Should Mechanics Have a 'Right to Repair?'

Repair
As automotive technology advances and becomes more specialized, some independent mechanics feel as if automakers are trying to monopolize repair services at their dealerships. This has led to congressional action in the form of the Right to Repair Act.

The bill would require automakers to provide all information required to diagnose and service vehicles, making crucial tools and data available to independents instead of only dealership shops.

Independent mechanics argue that they can’t make a living when they have to spend thousands of dollars constantly to gain access to the tools and online manuals needed to make repairs. If you need a $1,000 tool to reset a tire pressure light, something must be wrong, they say.

New vehicles are often fitted with computer systems that control just about everything, and independent mechanics need software codes and complicated diagrams of electrical wires just to make simple repairs. The Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association, whose members include Jiffy Lube and AutoZone, released a study in March that said the more expensive remedies used by dealerships cost consumers $11.7 billion in additional costs annually.

Automakers counter that they spend the millions of dollars upfront in research and development and shouldn’t have to give away intellectual property so that independents can gain access to patented information and build parts for less.

The bill, introduced by Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.) and joined by 51 co-sponsors, has been sent to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, though it remains uncertain if the committee will pass it on to the full House.

Mechanics Worry Dealer Shops Creating Repair Monopoly on High-Tech Vehicles (Associated Press)

By Stephen Markley | December 31, 2009 | Comments (7)
Tags: In The News

Comments 

I really hope this gets passed. The auto industry might argument with quality issues and not being able to keep any guarantee for work cars repaired by free mechanics but I am convinced that they now have the great chance to improve the quality. Mechanics will find a way to get around restrictions and instead of fighting against it the automakers should partner up with mechanics. Let the best service and the best quality win. We as consumers can't do without buying their cars but now the automakers have the chance to appreciate their customers. Within short time the automakers can gain a lot of respect and trust and that's the most valuable base to keep their customers.

Troy S.

I don't think dealerships should have a monopoly on all auto repairs. There would then be no competion and in turn, they could charge consumers whatever prices they wanted to.

I like going to my local mechanic because they are much closer than my dealer. I also know my mechanic. I find dealership mechanics to cycle through quicker. I also don't have to be without my car all day or over the weekend like I do with the dealership.

Papparo

I remember about twenty something years ago my daughter's Corolla needed a special tool to change-out the rotors. I thought I could buy the tool at any of the local auto parts stores but that wasn't the case. Out of desperation I went to the dealer and asked if I could rent the tool and was shocked when they loaned it to me for free. I didn't even buy the car from them! That was the complete opposite experience I had with my Audi dealer. I've bought many Toyota's in the years since but never another Audi.

Tony

it is a joke, right?
They tell Microsoft to show their source code to other companies but Automakers can hide the repair info?
Come on.
Consumer will win big if info will be available.
More over. Remember when cars used to come completed with the set of tools? They expected that owner might be need to fix or tighten something. And look at Toyota now. They have this filter system, which uses the insert and it is little more complicated then usual. But there is nothing in the manual on how to replace oil. I mean, this basic info should be included. Also, the special tool for that filter should be included too. Do they expect to scare me off by it and go to a dealer? Ok. I can find info on the web. Big deal, Toyota.

JJJR

Gee, I thought it was only big pharma that claimed it needed protection for its R&D. There has to be an effort in place to subsidize their own dealers by purposely necessitating the need for special equipment and proprietary parts. On the other hand very few of us drive model T’s anymore which were far easier to service but needed a lot more of it.

I myself would like to see more standardization in vehicle components which in turn would lower repair costs. Maybe I should wish for something simpler like having Santa deliver me a new one when he makes his rounds on the 25th.

hello

as an aside, there should also be a "right to buy" law that allows consumers to buy a car straight from the manufacturer instead of going through the dealer.

Thanks for sharing such a great idea and a wonderful website! I am looking forward to more great posts from you.

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