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Published on 10/16/2012




On August 7th, the Massachusetts Right-to-Repair Coalition reported that Governor Patrick had signed House Bill 4362, “An Act protecting motor vehicle owners and small businesses in repairing motor vehicles”, more commonly referred to as “Right to Repair”, into law.  Touting this as a major victory, the enacted law sadly excludes Motorcycles.  The Massachusetts Motorcycle Association (MMA) does not support this compromise bill and apparently neither do many; with urgency, the MMA asks all voters in Massachusetts to vote “YES” on Ballot Question #1 which would restore the original intention of the Bill, and also contact your state legislators informing them of your support.


As reported by the MMA following the Governor’s signing of House Bill 4362 (see MMA Right-to-Repair Announcement for more information), the Right-to-Repair Bill was pushed over a 3-year period by a coalition of 40 members including the MMA.  With little activity, the coalition launched a petition campaign to raise the bill to the status of a Question on the November 6, 2012 Ballot.  Spurring the legislature into action, the bill saw new life and began a journey of bi-partisan negotiation against heavy advertising and lobbying by manufacturers against the bill.  Unfortunately, although the Bill began to see light, back-room politics under the cover of darkness reached numerous compromises which ultimately resulted in a Bill being pushed through without support for RVs, Busses, Construction Equipment, trucks over 10,000 pounds, and MOTORCYCLES.


While some good intention did come from the compromise bill, including giving manufacturers more time to comply with the proposed interface.  An existing “pass-through” interface defined by the Society of Automotive Engineers, SAE j2534, was published in 2004 at the request of the EPA to standardize the protocols of communication to vehicles for the purpose of reporting and repair of vehicles to conform to emission controls.  Without this standard, manufacturers provided their own OEM-specific diagnostic tools, sometimes costing dealers several $thousands in diagnostic equipment, or forcing consumers back to dealerships for service.


But the main purpose of the Right-to-Repair legislation was not just standardization of the interface, rather the access to the information and codes necessary to effect correct diagnostics and repairs.  The computerization of motor vehicles continues to evolve requiring specialized knowledge, tools, and interfaces to deal with sometimes even the most minor of issues.  Even if a repair doesn’t necessarily require a computer diagnostic, often a repair requires that certain information be re-set in the onboard computers to remove warnings and alerts, or for the computers to correctly interact with each other during normal operation.


These computers or Control Units and Modules are now prevalent on ALL motor vehicles, not just passenger cars.  Also, while dealerships may be the service venue of choice for some, they are sometimes a significant distance away and/or a more expensive option for others.  In some cases, people simply have a strong relationship with talented service providers which span vehicles of many brands and generations.  In all non-dealer cases, access to the computer interfaces and codes is critical to perform and complete a full service.


As passed by the legislature and signed by the Governor in August, the Right-to-Repair legislation offers some level of support which is a great improvement for owners of passenger cars, but owners of larger pickup trucks and utility vehicles (“any vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 10,000 pounds”) as well as motorcycles are excluded.


Another concern is that Massachusetts has led the way in Right-to-Repair legislation nationally.  It’s important that we pave the way for other states and or for National Legislation to affirm the rights of consumers to choose their service providers.  If the Ballot Question does not pass, it opens the door to challenge further legislation both across the country and in Washington DC which might follow.


As such, the MMA believes that it’s crucial that Massachusetts Ballot Question #1 passes, both to pave the way for consumers outside Massachusetts, but to right the wrongs of the compromise legislation.  PLEASE VOTE “YES” ON BALLOT QUESTION #1.  Please also ask your friends, family, and any Massachusetts Voters to do the same!


Additionally, the MMA feels it’s important that you also contact your State Legislators – both your State Representative and Senator, to let them know you are voting for Ballot Question #1 to restore the rights of all vehicles, especially motorcycles, to the Right-to-Repair Legislation.  Without their support, the results of the ballot could be overridden in informal session to repeal the legislation despite being voted by the citizens of the Commonwealth.  While it legally only takes one Senator or Representative to prevent such an action, a stronger message is if they all say, “no, my constituents want this legislation to include motorcycles and other motor vehicles”.


Opponents of the original bill and ballot question have raised concerns that as written, compliance by Model Year 2015 is not possible and that the compromise legislation enacts model year 2018.  The MMA has no specific concern with the later date, but neither have we discussed the difficulties of implementing a standard that has been in existence for nearly 10 years and is already in broad use by manufacturers.


PLEASE VOTE “YES” ON BALLOT QUESTION #1.  Please also ask your friends, family, and any Massachusetts Voters to do the same!


For more information, please see or contact




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