Back in the day, when a car wasn't running right, a good mechanic could drive it and listen to the engine to narrow down where the problem was. They could go in and adjust or replace the carburetor jets, choke, points or some other mechanical piece, and if they knew what they were doing get it running right. In high school, this blogger learned how to balance the Zenith side draft carbs of a Triumph TR7 with a screw driver and an hunk of garden hose.

Today it's a whole different story. With everything on a modern car controlled by microchips, the only way to be sure what is making that warning light come on is to plug in a diagnostic tool and read out the codes. The problem is that auto manufacturers prefer to keep the magic code decrypters to themselves. While claiming it is for security and safety reasons, the reality is more likely related to profit.

However, with a significant chunk of the equity in Chrysler and General Motors now in the hands of the U.S. Government, the chances of passing a bill that would force automakers to reveal all of the diagnostic code information finally seem plausible. Lobbyists have been pushing to get various so-called "Right to Repair Act" legislation pushed through for at least eight years, and now they figure they have the best chance yet. The current bill that's up for consideration includes provisions that would mandate that automakers offer not only the trouble codes, but also any special tooling that's required (at "nondiscriminatory" pricing) as well as proper training.

What do you think, is the "Right to Repair Act" something Congress should get behind? Have your say in 'Comments.'

[Source: Ward's Auto World | Image: Justin Sullivan/Getty]

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