Bergen News Sun Bulletin

Support Bill For Equal Footing With Car Dealers

Auto mechanics seek computer codes

Bergen News Sun Bulletin — Wednesday, December 31, 2008

To the Editor:

The New Jersey Assembly recently passed legislation: The Motor Vehicle Owners' Right to Repair Act — allowing consumers to have their vehicles repaired where and by whom they please. Currently, vehicles that are equipped with computers, even those with expired warranties, are forced to return to the new car dealerships for repairs. The bill is now in the New Jersey Senate's hands and needs to be passed as quickly as possible.

Over the past ten years, vehicle repair has become more complex. Since the expansion of the Clean Air Act, vehicles have been manufactured with computers that control vital systems from brakes, to steering, electronics, even tire pressure. Literally dozens of complex computer systems control everything from the engine to the exhaust system. Mechanics need cuttingedge technology to stay ahead of the curve, but neither repair shops nor consumers can always get the information they need to complete repairs.

Here's an example: When a vehicle battery dies, every component in the car shuts off, including the radio. The consumer replaces the battery, but the radio still docs not work because there is a specific computer code needed to "unlock" the radio. Only the manufacturer has the code and will not always provide the code to a non-dealer repair shop. Installing a new battery would seem simple, but, in order to do so, the independent repair shop needs the appropriate computer code. But, only the car companies have the codes and they won't release them — not even to the vehicle owner.

At the heart of this problem is the fact that dealerships and manufacturers make their highest profits on repairs, not vehicle sales. The car companies are making it difficult to have consumers' vehicles repaired at the independent repair shops. Motor vehicle owners should have the right lo choose where they take their vehicle to be repaired.

Join us in our fight for consumer choice. Visit to join the fight against the automobile inanufacturer monopoly. Consumers can contact their legislators though the website by going to the Take Action section.

Laurie Ehlbeck
State Director
National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB-NJ)

Fred Gruel
AAA Clubs of NJ

Sal Risalvato
Executive Director
NJ Gas Station Convenience Store Automotive Association (NJGCA)

Ev Liebman
Director of Organizing & Advocacy
NJ Citizen Action

Keith Krehel
Krehel Automotive Repair, Inc.
Alliance of Automotive Service Providers - NJ (AASP-NJ)

John Holub
New Jersey Retail Merchants Association (NJRMA)

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