H. R. 2057
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
April 22, 2009
Mr. Towns (for himself, Mr. George Miller of California, and Ms. Eshoo) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce
To protect the rights of consumers to diagnose, service, maintain, and repair their motor vehicles, and for other purposes.
This Act may be cited as the
Motor Vehicle Owners Right to Repair
Act of 2009.
Findings and purposes
The Congress finds the following:
Motor vehicle owners are entitled to choose which service provider will diagnose, service, maintain, or repair their motor vehicles.
Promoting competition in price and quality for the diagnosis of problems, service, maintenance, and repair of motor vehicles will benefit consumers.
Regular diagnosis, service, maintenance, and repair of motor vehicles, motor vehicle equipment, and motor vehicle systems such as pollution control, transmission, antilock brakes, electronic and mechanical systems, heating and air-conditioning, and steering are essential to America’s mobility, minimizing fuel consumption, protecting the environment, and enabling the highest levels of safety possible in modern motor vehicles.
Computers of various kinds are now used by manufacturers in motor vehicle equipment and motor vehicle systems. On-board computer technology controls virtually all of the vehicle’s systems, and only service technicians with the necessary tools and information can access the computers to perform diagnosis, service, maintenance, and repair of the vehicle.
Manufacturers have made available to their authorized dealers and service providers the information, tools, codes, and replacement equipment necessary to diagnose problems and to service, maintain, and repair motor vehicles that incorporate computers in their motor vehicle systems.
Consumers in the United States have benefited from the availability of a wide choice of service providers for their motor vehicles. The American economy has also benefited from the availability of an aftermarket tools and parts supply that provides jobs to over 5 million workers in 495,000 businesses, and generates $200 billion in annual sales.
Vehicles are now being equipped with systems that permit vehicles to communicate repair and diagnostic information wirelessly with the vehicle manufacturer and repair facilities. Car owners have the right to choose where and to whom information generated by their vehicle and vehicle computers is sent.
The purposes of this Act are—
to protect motor vehicle owners’ right to choose a service provider for the diagnosis, service, maintenance, and repair of their motor vehicles;
to promote competition in price and quality among service providers; and
to promote safety and fuel efficiency by allowing consumers to choose among competing service providers.
Duty To disclose information
The manufacturer of a motor vehicle sold, leased, or otherwise introduced into commerce in the United States must provide to the motor vehicle owner and service providers, using reasonable business means and on a non-discriminatory basis, all information to diagnose, service, maintain, or repair the motor vehicle. This information must include—
information about safety alerts, recalls, service bulletins and the need for adjustments to maintain vehicle efficiency, safety and convenience; and
all information of any kind provided directly, indirectly, or wirelessly to new car dealers or any repair facility to diagnose, service, maintain, repair, activate, certify, or install any motor vehicle equipment (including replacement parts and equipment) in a motor vehicle.
Duty To make tools available
The manufacturer of a motor vehicle sold, leased, or otherwise introduced into commerce in the United States must offer for sale to the motor vehicle owner and to all service providers on a reasonable and non-discriminatory basis, any tool for the diagnosis, service, maintenance, or repair of a motor vehicle, and provide all information that enables aftermarket tool companies to manufacture tools with the same functional characteristics as those tools made available by the manufacturers to authorized dealers.
The manufacturer of a motor vehicle sold, leased, or otherwise introduced into commerce in the United States must offer for sale to motor vehicle owners, and to all service providers on reasonable and non-discriminatory terms, all equipment for diagnosis, service, maintenance, or repair of a motor vehicle.
Protection of trade secrets
A manufacturer may not be required to publicly disclose information that, if made public, would divulge methods or processes entitled to protection as trade secrets.
No information may be withheld by a manufacturer on the ground that it is a trade secret if that information is provided (directly or indirectly) to authorized dealers or service providers.
Authority of Federal Trade Commission
For the purpose of enforcing compliance with this Act, the Federal Trade Commission may utilize all authority conferred on it by the Federal Trade Commission Act, or otherwise.
Violation of section 3
A violation of section 3 of this Act constitutes an unfair method of competition and an unfair or deceptive act or practice within the meaning of section 5(a)(1) of the Federal Trade Commission Act (15 U.S.C. 45(a)(1)).
Violation of a rule
Violation of a rule prescribed under section 4(d) of this Act constitutes violation of a rule defining an unfair or deceptive act or practice prescribed under section 18(a)(1)(B) of the Federal Trade Commission Act (15 U.S.C. 57a(a)(1)(B)).
The Federal Trade Commission may prescribe rules to implement this Act.
Cooperation with department of transportation
The Federal Trade Commission must cooperate with the Department of Transportation to publish technical service bulletins on a Federal Internet Website.
The Federal Trade Commission may not prescribe rules that—
interfere with the authority of the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency under section 202(m) of the Clean Air Act (42 U.S.C. 7521(m)) with regard to motor vehicle emissions control diagnostics systems; or
conflict with rules prescribed by the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.
Action by states
Whenever an attorney general of any State has reason to believe that the interests of the residents of that State have been or are being threatened or adversely affected by a violation of section 3 of this Act, or by the violation of a rule promulgated by the Federal Trade Commission to implement this Act, the State, as parens patriae, may bring a civil action on behalf of its residents to enjoin violations, to obtain damages, restitution, or other compensation on behalf of residents of the State, or to obtain such further relief as the court may deem appropriate.
The State must serve prior written notice of any civil action under subsection (a) of this section upon the Federal Trade Commission with a copy of its complaint, except that if it is not feasible for the State to provide such prior notice, the State must serve notice immediately upon instituting an action. Upon receiving a notice of a civil action, the Federal Trade Commission may—
intervene in the action;
upon intervening, to be heard on all matters arising therein; and
For purposes of bringing any civil action under subsection (a) of this section, nothing in this chapter will prevent an attorney general from exercising the powers conferred on the attorney general by the laws of such State to conduct investigations or to administer oaths or affirmations or to compel the attendance of witnesses or the production of documentary and other evidence.
Actions by federal trade commission
Whenever a civil action has been instituted by or the Federal Trade Commission for violation of any rule prescribed under section 4(d) of this Act, no State may, during the pendency of the action instituted by the Federal Trade Commission, institute a civil action under this Act against any defendant named in the complaint in such action for violation of any rule as alleged in such complaint.
Actions by other state officials
Nothing contained in this section may prohibit an authorized State official from proceeding in State court on the basis of an alleged violation of any civil or criminal statute of such State.
In addition to actions brought by an attorney general of a State under subsection (a) of this section, an action may be brought by officers of a State who are so authorized.
A consumer or service provider may bring a civil action to enjoin any violation of section 3 of this Act or of any rule issued pursuant to this Act and for damages (including court costs and reasonable attorney and expert witness fees). The action may be brought in any court of competent jurisdiction.
In this Act:
The term commerce has the meaning given that term in section 4 of the Federal Trade Commission Act (15 U.S.C. 44).
The terms manufacturer, motor vehicle, and motor vehicle equipment have the meanings given those terms in section 30102(a) of title 49, United States Code.
The term motor vehicle owner and the term consumer mean any person who owns, leases, or otherwise has the legal right to use and possess a motor vehicle, or the agent of such person.
The term service provider means any person engaged in the diagnosis, service, maintenance, or repair of motor vehicles or motor vehicle engines.
The term replacement equipment has the meaning given that term in section 30102(b)(1) of title 49, United States Code.
The term model year has the meaning given that term in section 32901(a) of title 49, United States Code.
The term dealer has the meaning given that term in section 30102(a) of title 49, United States Code.
The term technical service bulletin means a communication sent to a dealer about the diagnosis, service, maintenance or repair of a motor vehicle or item of motor vehicle equipment and shall include all communications sent to the Secretary of Transportation under sections 30166(f) and 30166(m)(3)(A)(ii) of title 49, United States Code.