Bill Duncanson, lead technician at D&M Auto Repair on Congress Street in Portland, works on a car in the shop Tuesday, June 19, 2012. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

PORTLAND, Maine  — Backers of a referendum to ensure newer technology doesn’t prevent motorists from getting their cars repaired at independent shops in Maine submitted signatures Thursday aimed at putting the proposal on the ballot.

Mirroring a similar law in Massachusetts, the proposed referendum targets automobile diagnostic data that’s transmitted wirelessly to vehicle manufacturers — information that independent shops cannot access.

The referendum aims to ensure that independent repair shops have access to the information they need to fix cars at a fair price, said Tim Winkeler, president and CEO of VIP Tires & Service in Auburn.

He accused manufacturers of trying to “shut us out from repairing the newest models of cars and trucks.”

“Vehicle owners should be able to take their car or truck wherever they want for repairs or fix it themselves, not be forced to go to more expensive dealerships,” Winkeler said.

The Maine Right to Repair Coalition collected more than 70,000 signatures for the referendum. The secretary of state must certify 63,067 valid signatures to appear on the ballot in November.

In Massachusetts, a similar measure was approved in 2020 with 75% support to allow car owners and their preferred auto shops to more easily review a car’s online data.

But it has since been mired in litigation.

The Alliance for Automotive Innovation — a trade group backed by Ford, General Motors, Toyota and other big automakers — contends independent shops can already get the data they need with permission. The group says making it automatically accessible by third parties is dangerous.