The truce that ends a decade-long battle that pitted automakers against independent garages and parts retailers over access to repair information is good for the entire industry.
Drawing on the "right to repair" law that Massachusetts enacted last year, automakers last month agreed to give garages and retailers the same vehicle repair information franchised dealers get. They will be able to download that information over the Internet using ordinary computers, and starting with the 2018 model year all new cars must accommodate diagnostic tests without a need for proprietary equipment.
Kudos to automaker trade groups for recognizing the Massachusetts law as an acceptable compromise. The same goes for the garage and parts retailer groups, which agreed not to pursue state-by-state legislation.
It's a high-stakes issue. The independents want a fair shot at getting major vehicle repair work. Auto dealers want to protect their service departments as a primary profit pillar. Automakers need to be sure their vehicles are repaired properly and to protect their dealers. Consumers want good, low-cost repairs.
The compromise doesn't have everything for everybody, but it defuses the issue. A uniform nationwide deal is far better than a 50-state patchwork of requirements. Delaying the tricky parts until 2018 will give all parties time to adjust.