Proposed Bill Aims To Keep Your Car And Your Trusted Neighborhood Mechanic Together

When the engine stops, loyal's said they know exactly where to go.  "I wouldn't feel comfortable taking it to a dealership," said Connie Blakely.  "If I can't bring it here, I'd just not have it fixed."

Blakely said she always takes her car to Bud Jones Garage on Erwin Street in Tyler.  New legislation aims to help customers like Blakely, and repair shops like Bud Jones Garage.  H.R. 2694, the Right to Repair Act, was introduced this congressional session.  It would require car companies to make the same service information and tools they provide their dealers available to independent mechanics.

"Without that information, you wouldn't have your independent shops," said Charlie Martin, a mechanic and part-owner of Bud Jones Garage.  "Your independent shops help dial down the price at the dealer."

He said certain information is key to diagnosing the problems with today's cars, most of which are controlled by computers--computers which operate vehicle ignition controls, brakes, climate control systems, and other functions in your car.

Car makers voluntarily agreed to provide the same service information dealers receive to independents back in 2002.  In a statement, the president of the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers said, "customers should be able to seek reliable services wherever it's offered."  But that same organization opposed similar 'Right to Repair' legislation in states such as Maine, Massachusetts, and Oklahoma--legislation it deemed as "unnecessary."

"We have three or four different sources that we go through to get it, but if they cut it off, that's pretty much the end of you getting repair work done on two or three year old cars," said Martin.

And for some, that repair work can only come from their own, trusted mechanic.

The Right to Repair Act was introduced in two previous congressional sessions, but never made it out of committee.

Layron Livingston, Reporting.