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Snyder vetoes Michigan auto part repair bill

Jonathan Oosting Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Lansing — Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder on Thursday vetoed legislation that would have limited customer access to cheaper aftermarket parts for vehicle repairs by directing mechanics to use “original equipment manufacturer” parts on newer cars.

In a letter to state legislators, the Republican governor said he was concerned by the bill’s “effect on market competition” for replacement parts and that it could lead to higher auto insurance prices for Michigan motorists.

While supporters said the proposal would protect consumers and ensure vehicles are safely repaired, Snyder said the bill does not “sufficiently delineate” between parts that are primarily cosmetic, such as fenders, grilles and bumper covers.

“Michigan’s aftermarket auto parts industry is strong because of its competition with OEMs,” Snyder said in his veto letter. “…Enacting a law to prohibit mechanics from providing high quality and safe alternatives for customers is an inappropriate impediment on the competition that has resulted in both high quality OEM and aftermarket parts for Michigan drivers to enjoy.”

The legislation was supported by General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co., Auto Dealers of Michigan and the Automotive Service Association of Michigan, which said it would increase consumer safety.

The legislation, sponsored by Republican Rep. Pete Pettalia of Presque Isle, would have made several changes to the Motor Vehicle Service and Repair Act.

Mechanics repairing a vehicle under warranty and less than five years old generally would have been required to use a new OEM part, a used OEM part or a part recognized as OEM comparable quality as verified by a national testing agency.

The requirement would have been waived if the owner of the vehicle directed the facility in writing to install an aftermarket part, but Snyder said that provision did not alleviate his concerns with the bill.

“Requiring a signed waiver for these parts is akin to requiring pharmacists to obtain a waiver from patients to provide generic prescription drugs in lieu of more expensive name-brand medication,” the governor wrote.

The final version of the bill had passed the House 86-23 and the Senate 33-3.

joosting@detroitnews.com