Right to Repair coalition submit more than 70,000 signatures for the referendum

Published: Jan. 19, 2023 at 6:08 PM EST

AUGUSTA, Maine (WABI) - Advocates for the right to repair coalition submitted signatures to the secretary of the state office Thursday.

“It is a movement that ensures car owners can take their cars where they choose for their auto repair,” said Tommy Hickey with the Right to repair coalition.

The movement mirrors a similar law in Massachusetts and targets automobile diagnostic data. Tim Winkeler, President and CEO of VIP Tires & Service in Auburn says a lot of the issues are failure codes.

“when your vehicle has a check engine light or some other failure light that comes on the vehicle, sometimes that is produced by wireless data we cannot access so I cannot access the information to figure out how to diagnose it and how to fix it,” Winkeler said.

Winkler says they have the ability to get to all of the data they need in older cars because the data is on board the vehicle. Just not in the new cars.

He says newer vehicles -- like electric vehicles or E-V’s -- are producing wireless data that’s only transmitted back to the car manufacturer.

That’s the main issue, according to Tommy Hickey, director of the rights to repair coalition -- because people are forced to go to the car manufacturers for repairs.

“We believe it is the car owner’s right to have the information generated by their car and have the diagnostic information and share with who they choose,” Hickey said.

He also says car manufacturers will likely charge the consumers what they want and hopes that is not the case.

“And this is what that is about, ensuring that independent repair shops and dealership are on a level of playing field and that customers don’t have to pay more in getting their cars fixed,” Hickey said