Critics Say Car Parts Bill Would Raise Costs; Marshall Calls It 'Consumer Protection'

Jun 13, 2018

Rep. Marshall.
Credit General Assembly photo

An insurance industry group says a car parts bill passed Tuesday by the Rhode Island House Corporations Committee will make the state an outlier and raise costs for consumers. But the sponsor of the measure, state Rep. Ken Marshall (D-Bristol), contends the legislation makes sense and will protect consumers.

The bill (H-8013) would prohibit car repair shops from using after-market parts without a customer's consent. The Corporations Committee passed it on a 10-to-2 vote, with Reps. Jeremiah O'Grady (D-Lincoln) and Anthony Giarrusso (R-East Greenwich) voting in opposition.

Car repair-related bills are an annual staple at the Statehouse; critics contend they benefit a small number of repair shops at the expense of consumers.

"No other state in the country bans the use of high quality, reliable aftermarket parts in the auto repair process," Frank O'Brien, a spokesman for the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, said in a statement. "Aftermarket parts are 20-30 percent cheaper than expensive original equipment manufacturer parts, and their use helps to keep auto repair costs down."

But Marshall, who declined a request for an interview, said in a statement issued through House spokesman Larry Berman that his legislation is "a good consumer protection bill."

"Nobody wants to have a new car damaged and then repaired and devalued with aftermarket parts," Marshall said. "The consumer should have the right to choose within a certain period of time if they want new parts or used parts to repair their vehicles.” 

As a senior deputy majority leader, Marshall is a part of House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello's leadership team in the House of Representatives.

It's unclear when the bill will move to the House floor, although the measure's passage through committee signals that it is likely to move forward.

In 2016, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder vetoed a bill that would have limited the use of after-market parts in car repairs.

“On its face, this policy seems to be intended to protect consumers and ensure vehicles are safely repaired," Snyder said, according to a statement from his office. "That is a laudable goal. However, this bill…limits use of safe, high-quality aftermarket parts designed specifically for particular vehicles.”