"Right To Repair" laws have been debated for years, with automakers and dealers steadfastly opposed to any legislation requiring them to divulge the electronic secrets of their vehicles to independent repair shops. The little guys continue to cry foul, insisting that dealership mechanics get repair tools and software that are unavailable on the open market. The manufacturers claim they already provide enough repair information and what they don't disclose is proprietary and needs to be protected. The repair shops retort that manufacturers are putting them at an unfair disadvantage, accusing them of wanting to protect their dealers' revenue stream.

All that back and forth – along with the legislative gridlock that has benefitted the carmakers – could end soon in Massachusetts, according to The Wall Street Journal. A ballot measure in November would allow voters to bypass state lawmakers to put a Right To Repair law on the books.

The ballot initiative is backed by the Massachusetts Right to Repair Coalition, a group of independent mechanics and parts retailers, and supported by AAA Southern New England, whose membership was polled 88 percent in favor of Right To Repair, according to the report. A coalition spokesman told the WSJ that if its initiative succeeds, he expects ballot measures to be launched in other states like New Jersey, New York and Connecticut, where Right To Repair bills have stalled in state legislatures.

Who do you think is on the right side of this issue? Have your say in Comments and be sure to vote in our poll below.




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  • 110 Comments
      Dwain Goretzke
      • 2 Years Ago
      Hyundai and Kia have free information including flash programming free to the public. I think it's great. Bring some good old competition to the market place.
      Humble Mechanic
      • 2 Years Ago
      From what I understand, any information that is made available to dealer techs, is made available to aftermarket techs. This is one of the reasons that we(dealer techs) have a help line. They have information that is not distributed, so it does not need to be sent to aftermarket. What people don't understand is, we don't have this magical book that tells us everything about everything. We don't know what happens inside a control module more than an aftermarket shop, WITH THE RIGHT TOOLS!
        Eliseo Roman
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Humble Mechanic
        That is true, your skills should set you apart allowing you to diagnose things better, i imagine that is the reason you work as a tech and not a service guy at jiffy lube. Their is cases though were things are just not made available and it puts independent shops at a disadvantage. Lexus is one example, my friend could not take it anywhere else for an oil change because of a special tool. I understand its a Lexus but this practice is trickling down ford is one example.
      wilkegm
      • 2 Years Ago
      Its really more an issue of consumer protection. If the information is kept proprietary, then the consumer has, at times, no choice but to have the vehicle serviced at manufacturer franchise locations. Lets not forget that dealerships pay dearly for the priviledge of being. If not being able to service a vehicle at an independent service providerdrives up the cost of ownership, then that is just that- cost of ownership. Excercise consumer choice, rather than crying consumer protection.
      Zeus
      • 2 Years Ago
      Alldata already provides an independent shop with everything they need to know, but it costs a lot of money. I'm on the fence with this topic. One part of me sees the fact that it should be a fair market for the guy on the corner to compete, the other side of me sees it from the business of protecting your information as a car company. If any of us were on either side trying to put food on the table we would argue our own case as opposed to the other guy. This is a really weird situation. My solution is offer the information at a price that is lower than alldata or existing databases. The manufacturers turn a little bit of a profit and the independent guy gets what he wants (or is already paying for) for cheaper. Problems solved.
      satrnbmb
      • 2 Years Ago
      Is the "right to repair" limited ONLY to cars, or will it apply to other big ticket items as well, such as ipads, TVs, cell phones? If it applies to other items too, does that mean they'll become more disposable to prevent repair or more open and hackable?
      breakfastburrito
      • 2 Years Ago
      On a side note, 50 Chinese engineers just applied for travel visas to Massachusetts.
        desinerd1
        • 2 Years Ago
        @breakfastburrito
        They don't need "Right to Repair" to do that. If they can copy our military's stealth technology from a crashed plane, they can easily copy technology from a car.
          ufgrat
          • 2 Years Ago
          @desinerd1
          They don't even need to do that... If you want to sell cars in the fastest growing market (China), you have to "partner" with a Chinese corporation-- and share your intellectual property. It's an impressive 21st century take on Faust.
      John M
      • 2 Years Ago
      The information is available to the after market already. Look at Autologic. They are based in the UK and US, their tool works on BMW, MB, Land Rover, Mini, and a few others. We only have BMW and Mini on ours and Autologic is never more then 48 hours behind BMW in terms of coding updates. They will even write custom code. They have an incredible tech support based in the USA. It can do everything the factory BMW tool can do with the exception of guided fault finding, built in wiring diagrams and a couple other things. We have both. The Autologic tool was more expensive then the current BMW factory tool which is a pass-thru system. We have the Autologic because it's portable and fast. The BMW pass tool does all the heavy programming. Can't wait till a Sears tech codes or updates a ECU and doesn't put supply voltage on a car.
        Zeus
        • 2 Years Ago
        @John M
        How much do they retail for? Interested.
      jshowal954
      • 2 Years Ago
      This would probably be a good thing for the consumer and the repair people in the industry. A few years ago, the mechanic worked on a 50/50 percentage of the labor, but the past few years, as the charge for the labor increased, the mechanic has lost out to the point of a dealer charging 80 per hour and paying the mechanic 20, if he even gets that much, and then basing the charges on a Motors, Chilton, etc. manual that is one and a half times over the factory manual for the time alloted to repair a componet of the vehicle. The factory time manuals should be on the internet so that a person could research and find the time to replace a water punp, or to change spark plugs, or replace a power steering pump according to the manufactures published time guides.(This is the amound of time the factory warranty will pay times the dealer labor rate for an applicable repair indluding the necessary parts that need to be removed to replace an item. Like removing the radiator to replace a water pump, including replacing the anti-freeze and other related items, without charging extra for supplies. Warranty pays for all the necessary items needed to complete the repair.) In the above scenario the dealer would charge to replace the water pump, and then charge extra to remove the radiator and actually collect double labor as the radiator removal is included in the labor to replace the water pump, even in the aftermarket time studies that add additional time to the factory guidelines for whoever knows why, just to compensate untrained mechanics. If you think this does not happen, just go into a dealership service department and ask the service advisor how labor times are determined, and what labor standard manual are they using. If you are going to be paying the bill, you should be told what basis the advisor is using in order to estimate the repair. If it is a Motors, Chilton, or other aftermarket guide, ask them to quote the repair using the Authorized Factory Repair Standards Manual, which is probably on a computer system, not in a book. If they don't want to give you these prices, time their posted per hour prices, then go somewhere else and remind them that you will probably buy your next new vehicle from the dealer that will do business with you in a fair and decent manner. If you have already been ripped off in this manner, I would suggest you get an attorney and resolve the problem. Hopefully the law will step in and stop the practices that have prevailed in the repair industry. Maybe even some day the franchise laws will change and we can buy our vehicles and factory parts on the internet and eliminate the hassles of over inflated prices. It will probably develop into better prices and better repair services, if everyone is on the same page of the book. Just my humble opinion. Jack
        jamestechii
        • 2 Years Ago
        @jshowal954
        Unfortunately,the manufacturers labor times are really not useable in the real mechanical world. How that time was determined is this- a factory trained technician is given a NEW vehicle to work on, not one with 100000 miles on it. You know, rusted bolts,other oily or greasy parts, ECT. The tech has all of the required tools laid out on the work bench. He now does the repair and familiarizes himself on what is required to do the repair. After the repair is done, the workspace is cleaned & reorganized. NOW the technician will do the repair, the same repair, and is timed. THAT is how the factory repair time is determined! It does not take into account age or mileage on the vehicle. Remember most warranty repairs take place within 3years or 36000 miles. I have been a technician for over 30 years, 15 years in a dealership and over 15 years in the aftermarket repair industry. I owned my own shop for 10 years. I do understand both sides of the story.
      Black Dynamite 2.0
      • 2 Years Ago
      Gotta agree with the makers on this one. Big Brother should stay out of this, first off. Second, where does an independent mechanic get off telling Ford or GM what to do, and what information about their cars should be passed out? How does that help the maker? BD
        Carlos Cruz
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Black Dynamite 2.0
        Should an automaker sell you a vehicle in which the hood is sealed? This is what we're heading towards. Batteries hidden in special compartments, Service reminder resets that require a dealer's computer and other simple tasks that become complex for no apparent reason other than to keep anyone except for the dealer out. Ze Germans were the ones who started this. Have you seen the battery placement on German vehicles? Also, Big Brother is there for a reason (it just seems its not for the right reasons anymore...), Big brother inspects the meat that you consume (funding has been slashed however) Big brother ensures the medications you take are safe (funding has been slashed however) Big brother keep the skies clear of danger (funding has been slashed however) Big brother tests the vehicles sold here for safety (funding has been slashed however) Big brother ensures a make can't sell you a lemon and get away with it (funding has been slashed however) Big brother ensures your bank can't rape you (this isn't being enforced however) Big brother safeguards your money in case your bank collapses Big brother probably funded your education in some ways... Stop complaining about big brother. If you want a country without laws go to the Middle East and certain parts of Africa so that you can get a feel of the freedoms of having little or no government.
      johnbravo6
      • 2 Years Ago
      No, what there should are FEWER laws. Specifically, the ones that give the auto companies a stranglehold on the market in the first place, or asinine arbitrary smog laws preventing the use of stand alone ECUs.
        mapoftazifosho
        • 2 Years Ago
        @johnbravo6
        You've got tea bags over your eyes...
        Chris
        • 2 Years Ago
        @johnbravo6
        This law would actually help alleviate that stranglehold on the market that you are complaining about. This really isn't a political issue because it would stand to benefit us all where it counts, the wallet. It doesn't matter if you are a true believer in the free-market system, or one who is fed up with rampant corporate greed as this really would be effective in meeting the objectives of folks on all sides of the political spectrum.
      HollywoodF1
      • 2 Years Ago
      You don't sign an EULA when you buy a car. The consumer therefore has legal title to the data, and it would be illegal for the manufacturer to impede the owner's access to the data.
        leo
        • 2 Years Ago
        @HollywoodF1
        you can shell out $700 to buy the exact same guide the dealer buys. and you can still buy all the tools you want from their websites. I did this for my G35 and I can tell you everything is there, even the torque limits for every screw on the vehicle. they can buy it just like the dealer does but they don't want to spend the money, and dealers spend a ton of money on buying all the tools and guides they need. i purchased mine on Nissanusa.com website. i'm sure every other automaker has the same service.
      tylermars.design
      • 2 Years Ago
      Why the hell would you go to a small independant shop to repair your new car? Literally every car comes with a warrenty these days. And if your car isn't new, there is boatloads of info,specs, how-to's etc. out there.
        John M
        • 2 Years Ago
        @tylermars.design
        Warranty work is exempted in the bill.
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