The bill hasn't been voted on yet, but there was a discussion about Assemblyman Reed Gusciora's Motor Vehicle Owners' Right to Repair Act recently in the Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee. Gusciora says his legislation is all about fairness.

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"Too many general service stations have to turn consumers away and say, 'No, you have to take this back to the dealer. We can repair your car, but we need the (computer) access code for you to re-start your engine,'" says Gusciora. "As long as there's not free competition, dealers can charge whatever they want and usually it's much higher. You should be able when you buy a car to take it wherever you want."

The bill would require automakers to allow vehicle owners and independent repair facilities to have access to the same vehicle diagnostic and repair information made available to car manufacturers. They wouldn't have to disclose trade secrets or proprietary information about the car parts themselves.

"As cars have become more technologically advanced, manufacturers have gained an unfair advantage by forcing owners to rely on dealerships for even the most routine maintenance," explains Gusciora. "Every motorist should have access to the array of diagnostic codes locked into a vehicle's computer and decide for themselves who they want to service their vehicle."

Recently in Massachusetts, voters overwhelmingly (86 percent) voted to enact a similar Right to Repair law.

"This bill frees up car owners to choose between their auto dealer and independent service shops to repair their vehicles," says the Assemblyman. "Not only does it foster competitive car repair pricing, but it gives consumers the choice where they will bring their cars for servicing. It's a win-win for car owners and mom-and-pop service stations who want to stay in business."

Automakers and dealerships are opposed to the bill, but say they would be more amenable if it was passed at the federal level. Lawmakers say if that doesn't happen quickly they will move Gusciora's bill in New Jersey.