Mainers are being asked to vote on no fewer than eight ballot question come November.  Sometimes it can be confusing as to how to vote.  But for Question 4, regarding the Right to Repair, there’s only one good answer: Vote “yes.”

Here’s why. The Right to Repair referendum protects your right, as a vehicle owner, to take your car or truck wherever you choose for repairs, or to diagnose and repair your car yourself. That’s how it should be. 

If Question 4 doesn’t pass, you’ll eventually be left with no choice but to take your vehicles to dealerships only, which are more expensive, on average, and not always convenient. 

When you take your car into your local repair shop to see why your “check engine” light has come on, you may have seen the mechanic plug their scan tool into a port in your car.  That port allows them to see what’s wrong so they can fix it. Everything is now going wireless, and technology in the auto industry is no different.   

About 90%  of new vehicles now transmit diagnostic data wirelessly, through telematics, back to the car manufacturer and their dealerships. In effect, that shuts out independent repair shops and car owners from accessing that information.  

This advancement in technology, if not addressed, will be bad for consumers; you’ll end up having no choice but to take your vehicle to a dealership for certain repairs, typically at a greater expense. It will also cost our state jobs because independent repair shops will suffer by not being able to serve their customers properly. 


As you can imagine, auto manufacturers are fighting Question 4. After all, a lot of money can be gained by steering vehicle owners to their dealerships for service and repairs.   

Auto manufacturers argue the referendum isn’t necessary because independent auto repair shops and manufacturers have reached a “groundbreaking agreement” to share that diagnostic data. That is simply not true. The agreement they refer to is deceptive. First, there’s nothing holding them to it because it’s not law, it’s a memorandum. Second, it doesn’t standardize access for car owners and independent mechanics. 

Question 4, Right to Repair, solves an important problem. It will force auto manufacturers to standardize a wireless platform so car owners and independent mechanics can access the information necessary for diagnosing and repairing the new vehicles that transmit wireless diagnostic data. 

You may also have heard that opening this up will threaten the owner’s security. Again, not true. 

Think about it. Many of us already doing our banking and availing of many other services online. There are very smart people out there who know how to create secure networks. The Right to Repair ballot question is limited to diagnostic and repair information only – nothing more.  

Competition is good for all of us consumers. Competition keeps prices lower. Question 4 preserves your choice to diagnose and fix your car yourself, take it to an independent repairer or to a dealership. The point of the referendum question is that it’s your choice – you’re in the driver’s seat. 

I urge everyone to vote “yes” on Question 4, “yes” for Right to Repair. 

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