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Biden Executive Order Addresses Right to Repair

Biden’s most recent executive order encourages the Federal Trade Commission to limit equipment manufacturers from restricting people’s ability to use independent repair shops or do DIY repairs.

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The Biden Administration has come out in support of right to repair, with an aim at ensuring consumers have access to a competitive repair market.

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On July 9, the administration issued an executive order, called “Promoting Competition in the American Economy,” with 72 initiatives that “promptly tackle some of the most pressing competition problems across our economy,” the Biden administration said in a press release. One of those initiatives is to make it easier and cheaper for consumers to repair items “by limiting manufacturers from barring self-repairs or third-party repairs of their products.”

In the order, the administration is encouraging the Federal Trade Commission to limit equipment manufacturers from restricting people’s ability to use independent repair shops or do DIY repairs. One such instance in the OTR tire industry is when tractor companies block farmers or OTR tire dealers from repairing their or their customer’s tractors, according to the Auto Care Association. In the executive order, Biden called on the Department of Agriculture to address right-to-repair concerns for tractors.

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For both tractor and automotive repairs, the order cites mobile phones as a barrier “erected by manufacturers” in the repair process for independent automotive repair shops and DIYers.

Last week, the Auto Care Association said it was pleased that the Administration recognizes the importance of right to repair to ensure consumers have access to a competitive repair market.

“Ranging from car company OE parts marketing practices to access to in-vehicle data, independent repair shops and their suppliers continue to be challenged in providing repair maintenance for U.S. car owners,” the Auto Care Association said in a press release last week.

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The issues facing the vehicle aftermarket were outlined in a recent FTC report titled “Nixing the Fix, a Report to Congress.” On June 30, the Auto Care Association, along with six other automotive aftermarket trade groups, sent a letter to the FTC calling for the commission to take action to address concerns outlined in their report.

Unlike other industries, the aftermarket has been fortunate to have made major progress in the right to repair efforts highlighted by the Memorandum of Understanding signed by the Auto Care Association, the Coalition for Auto Repair Equality (CARE) and the vehicle manufacturers in 2014, that ensure access to the repair information, tools and software needed to repair late-model vehicles, the association said.

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“Notwithstanding the progress, manufacturers continue to place barriers in the way of independent repair shops being able to service vehicles,” the association said.

The Auto Care Association said it will be meeting with the FTC in the coming days to urge them to engage in multi-sector rulemaking to address right-to-repair issues across all industries, as well as those that might be more sector-specific to the aftermarket.

“It is heartening to see that the right to repair efforts that Auto Care Association has been pressing for over the last two decades are now gaining traction in the federal government,” said Bill Hanvey, president and CEO of the Auto Care Association. “We urge the Administration and the FTC to take strong actions in order to reduce anti-competitive barriers to repair for our industry so that we can continue to service our customer’s vehicles.”

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