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What Is the Right to Repair?

An interesting piece of legislation has been gathering some steam lately, the Right to Repair Act. At first it sounds like a bill that allows you to keep your car as long as you want as long as it can be repaired, but it’s a little more political than that. If you have ever dreaded going to the dealer because of the fear of overpriced repair work this act will interest you.

Many people have taken their car to their local mechanic hoping to get an honest look, and fair repair pricing, only to find out the mechanic can’t figure out the problem. What happens most of the time is a mechanic runs diagnostics first. A computer is hooked up to the car to see what the problem is. Some manufacturers lock out car owners and repair shops to access to the codes in order to protect their intellectual property, according to automobile manufacturers, not proven but it also may be a ploy to make the owner take their car to their dealers. Since the code cannot be read, the local mechanic does not want to run the risk of making an improper diagnosis, and you are forced to go to the dealer. If the independent does make an improper diagnosis they may make a repair that isn’t required, or worse, miss a critical component that needs to be repaired. Not to say that dealers overcharge, but being forced to go to a dealer means you cannot chose from a wide variety of repair shops to get competitive pricing.

Some states are now putting forward Right to Repair Bills, or they are under consideration, currently only Massachusetts has passed a Bill requiring the sharing of automotive manufacturers repair information. The Bill now grants access to original equipment manufacturer or, OEM repair information that previously was only seen by automobile manufacturers and dealer repair shops. This may seem like a no brainer, so why aren’t more states on board or why hasn’t the US Congress passed a similar Bill? Apparently it seems to come down to money. Automobile manufacturers are concerned about giving away their trade secrets and intellectual property. A fear is that their products will be duplicated as OEM parts and then would be sold overseas, cutting into their OEM part manufacturing revenues, but the Bill only provides for diagnostic information relief, it does not enable one to duplicate a part. Automobile corporation’s dealers also do receive more business due to repair shops turning away customers whose vehicles cannot be diagnosed. As you can see, automobile manufacturers have a significant monetary interest in this Bill.

If a countrywide passing of such a Bill is enacted the small repair shop will see more business, and millions will be saved by the consumer due to the increase in competition. Manufacturers will not be not be relinquishing their trade secrets, only vital information needed to repair vehicles. It would appear that only the consumer would suffer if this Bill is not passed. 

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