AAA Wants Your Auto Repair Stories

Orlando, Fla. – 8/29/2005

Association will use stories to preserve consumer choice in auto repair.

Imagine that you are driving and suddenly a light on the dashboard of your car tells you the engine needs to be checked. So you take your car to your trusted auto technician near your home and he tells you that only a technician at a dealership will be able to access the diagnostic information needed to fix the car — and the dealership is 30 miles away.

If the problem is something simple and the needed repair is covered by a warranty, 30 extra miles of driving may not be a critical factor. But what if the problem is something more serious that could leave you stranded miles from a dealership or waiting until the only dealership in town opens and can fit you in for an appointment? What if the cost of the repair is high, and you would like to have several estimates?

If you have had a repair issue with your vehicle that required you to take your vehicle to a dealership for servicing because you were told they were the only ones capable of fixing the problem, AAA wants to know about it. Log on to www.aaa.com/publicaffairs and click on “AAA Wants to Know” in the left column. There you will be asked to fill out a brief form, and then tell AAA your story. AAA plans to use these real-life situations in their efforts to urge Congress to pass the “Motor Vehicle Owners Right to Repair Act.”

“Technology has made the cars we drive smarter so they can tell drivers of an impending problem — before it breaks down and you have to call AAA,” said Robert L. Darbelnet, AAA President and CEO. “But some automobile manufacturers are making it difficult, if not impossible, for consumers to take their vehicle to their choice of auto repair location. The consumer is the one who suffers.”

In many cases, the diagnostic information generated by the vehicle is accessible only at auto manufacturer-branded dealerships, preventing choice and convenience for the consumer.

“Since 2003, AAA has been pressing Congress to pass legislation which would require that all service and repair information be made available to independent service technicians,” said Darbelnet. “When consumers drive off the lot they should own not just the car but all the information generated by that vehicle, including information used to diagnose and repair it.”

Congress will be considering legislation in September that would reaffirm the vehicle owner’s right to choose who repairs their vehicles, promote consumer safety by allowing owners or their auto technicians access to computers that control systems affecting safe vehicle operation, permit owners to choose repair shops and replacement parts for vehicle service, authorize the Federal Trade Commission to create regulations protecting consumers and promoting competition in automobile maintenance and repair, and provide consumers a cause of action in federal court for violations.

More information about this pending legislation and AAA’s position on it can be found online at the AAA Exchange, www.aaa.com/publicaffairs. AAA Exchange is dedicated to providing consumers information and fostering communication. It is an extension of AAA’s long history of public service and provides a look into important safety, consumer, automotive and travel issues.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 48 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. Consumers can find their local AAA club online at www.aaa.com.