In the current post-collision repair market, a car repair has become more than just an inconvenience. Due to rising inflation and difficulty in accessing parts, consumers are facing difficult economic choices when in need of a vehicle repair. According to a recent report in the Wall Street Journal, this is having significant economic impacts ranging from missed work to people losing their cars to lenders restricting access to loans for used vehicles. This economic reality, compounded with restrictions placed on vehicle repair and access to parts by vehicle manufacturers, is impacting far too many consumers.
These restrictions are squeezing consumers in an already challenging economic environment. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in the month of February the cost for vehicle repair is up 12.5 percent over the previous year. The average cost for a vehicle repair went from $600 pre-pandemic to over $800 post pandemic, according to the automotive research group IMR. The rising cost of repair is due to a myriad of factors but repair restrictions are surely among them. In fact, anti-competitive practices from automakers have cost American consumers more than $1.5 billion per year in higher auto repairs according to recent research from the CAR Coalition and DePaul University College of Law.
The CAR Coalition is supporting two bipartisan measures that would ease these restrictions and expand choices for consumers as they attempt to repair their vehicles. The “Save Money on Auto Repair Transportation SMART Act” (H.R. 1707) will put an end to automakers’ unfair use of patents by reducing from 15 years to 2.5 years the time that automakers can enforce design patents against alternative parts manufacturers on collision repair parts, including common parts such as side mirrors, quarter panels and bumpers. This will help create more options for consumers, not fewer. Additionally, the CAR Coalition is behind the “Right to Equitable and Professional Auto Industry Repair (REPAIR) Act” (H.R. 906) will ensure consumers have access to their car’s data and the repair tools needed to maintain modern cars.
As costs for everything from eggs to vehicle repairs remain high, the CAR Coalition is working to advance solutions that will lower costs and expand choices for vehicle owners. No one wants to have to deal with a vehicle repair, but if they must, they want to know they are getting the most for their money.