Independent auto repair shops in Maine push for ‘Right to Repair’

Owners and employees of independent auto repair shops filed an application with the Secretary of State’s Office in hopes of a ‘Right to Repair’ referendum in 2023.

MAINE, USA — As vehicles become more and more high tech, independently-owned repair shops fear the inability to access important data from the vehicle.

“As cars become rolling computers, you have to have access to that wireless data if you’re going to work on that car,” said Tim Winkeler, CEO and President of VIP Tires & Auto Service.

Winkeler and other independent repair shop owners say new vehicles have technology that provides real-time diagnostic and repair information wirelessly only to vehicle manufacturers. Winkeler says without access to that diagnostic information, it will become increasingly difficult for repair shops not affiliated with a car manufacture to provide service.

“This is really just about giving people the freedom to take their car where they want to take it, and giving our great technicians across the state of Maine, the ability to work on cars now and in the future,” Winkeler said.

This week, Winkeler says he and members of the ‘Maine Right to Repair Coalition’ filed an application for a citizen initiative with the Maine Secretary of State’s Office. They hope to collect signatures, and get a referendum question on the ballot in 2023 that would ask voters to require car manufacturers to make that data accessible.

“You need to have that technology to even do a simple transmission flush,” said Mark Paulin, owner of Paulin’s Tire & Auto Service. Paulin hopes this citizens’ initiative will allow local repair shops to stay in business.

“There’s got to be a way for the manufactures to release this information to us, so that way we have the ability to do exactly what the dealerships do,” Paulin said.

RELATED: Subaru, Kia shut off some car features rather than adhere to ‘right to repair’ law

Massachusetts passed a similar referendum back in 2020.

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