The question of who should repair today's high-tech cars has exacerbated the already-tense relationship between automakers and their dealers on one side and independent repair shops on the other, USA Today reports.
U.S. car owners spend close to $38 billion annually on automotive repair, according to the Commerce Department. Dealer labor rates tend to run $10-$20 per hour higher than independent shops, according to AAA. Manufacturers say their dealers are best equipped to handle repairs on today's technology-driven cars.
Independent repair shops argue that they can do the work just fine if they can get the latest diagnostic tools and computer information at a reasonable cost. Now Congress has gotten involved. Five members introduced The Motor Vehicle Owner's Right to Repair Act, which would require automakers to provide all vehicle repair information to independent shops.
Automakers oppose the bill. They prefer that their dealers do the work. Dealers handle warranty repair work for the manufacturers and safety recalls from the government.