By on May 26, 2009

[This editorial was sent to us by Charley Territo from the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.] For the past eight years, a group that represents aftermarket parts suppliers has lobbied in Congress and state houses across the country for legislation that would give them free access to the intellectual property of automakers. Automakers spend more on research and development than any other industry.  The proponents of this legislation can’t keep up. Their hope is that passage of Right to Repair would cut down on the costs and time needed to develop aftermarket parts to compete with OEMs. In practice, this legislation would do nothing to address the problems the CARE coalition says exist.  It is a solution in search of a problem.

Ironically, ALLDATA, one of the largest of these third party providers of service and repair information, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of AutoZone, which is a major funder of the coalition in support of so-called Right to Repair legislation. Either the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association is misstating a public policy position or ALLDATA is misrepresenting the nature of its product.  

The information necessary to service and repair motor vehicles is widely available to all segments of the nation’s service and repair industry. In 2002, automobile manufacturers and the Automotive Service Association signed a broad industry agreement to ensure the general availability of service information, tools, and training. This industry agreement utilizes the National Automotive Service Task Force (NASTF), a broadly representative voluntary organization designed to resolve any availability concerns that may arise.

In 2007, NASTF reviewed a mere 48 service information requests out of more than 500 million automotive service and repair events. Of those 48 requests—some of which were duplicates—all but one was resolved readily by the vehicle manufacturers involved. We believe NASTF has and will continue to serve as an important organization for the service and repair industry.

Congressional support for the so-called “Right to Repair Act” has diminished as this voluntary agreement has been implemented. A few weeks ago, the legislation was re-introduced with just two cosponsors, down from 177 just a few years ago.  Furthermore, in 2007 the Federal Trade Commission reported to Congress that it had received no complaints from independent repairers or anyone else about this issue.  Unfortunately that hasn’t stopped the CARE coalition from continuing to scour the country looking for a sympathetic legislature to intervene on their behalf.  

Today’s automotive engineers are using computers in innovative ways to produce even safer and cleaner vehicles. And while automotive computers monitor and control everything from airbag safety systems and anti-lock brakes to GPS systems, fuel economy and emissions controls, they also require independent repairers to invest in the tools, training and equipment necessary to properly service theses automobiles.  

For many independent repairers, the current economic crisis has been a boon to their businesses.  Consumers are holding on to the vehicles longer and choosing to make repairs rather than purchase new autos.  Manufacturers are committed to providing independent repairers with the information they need to repair automobiles.  In fact, more than 75 percent of post-warranty repairs are performed by non-dealer shops.  

Right to repair is a parts bill masquerading as a repair bill.  Let’s hope legislators around the country continue to see through the disguise.  

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34 Comments on “Editorial: Why the So-Called “Right to Repair” Legislation is Unnecessary...”


  • avatar
    Richard Chen

    Someone told me getting the official BMW diagnostic computers/software for his aftermarket shop took 7 figures and several months.

    HR 2057: Motor Vehicle Owners Right to Repair Act of 2009

    Excerpt:

    SEC. 3. MANUFACTURER REQUIREMENTS.

    (a) Duty To Disclose Information- The manufacturer of a motor vehicle sold, leased, or otherwise introduced into commerce in the United States must provide to the motor vehicle owner and service providers, using reasonable business means and on a non-discriminatory basis, all information to diagnose, service, maintain, or repair the motor vehicle. This information must include–

    (1) information about safety alerts, recalls, service bulletins and the need for adjustments to maintain vehicle efficiency, safety and convenience; and

    (2) all information of any kind provided directly, indirectly, or wirelessly to new car dealers or any repair facility to diagnose, service, maintain, repair, activate, certify, or install any motor vehicle equipment (including replacement parts and equipment) in a motor vehicle.

    (b) Duty To Make Tools Available- The manufacturer of a motor vehicle sold, leased, or otherwise introduced into commerce in the United States must offer for sale to the motor vehicle owner and to all service providers on a reasonable and non-discriminatory basis, any tool for the diagnosis, service, maintenance, or repair of a motor vehicle, and provide all information that enables aftermarket tool companies to manufacture tools with the same functional characteristics as those tools made available by the manufacturers to authorized dealers.

    (c) Replacement Equipment- The manufacturer of a motor vehicle sold, leased, or otherwise introduced into commerce in the United States must offer for sale to motor vehicle owners, and to all service providers on reasonable and non-discriminatory terms, all equipment for diagnosis, service, maintenance, or repair of a motor vehicle.

    (d) Protection of Trade Secrets-

    (1) A manufacturer may not be required to publicly disclose information that, if made public, would divulge methods or processes entitled to protection as trade secrets.

    (2) No information may be withheld by a manufacturer on the ground that it is a trade secret if that information is provided (directly or indirectly) to authorized dealers or service providers.

  • avatar
    tedward

    Sorry, I can’t just jump on this bandwagon.

    Look, the article dosen’t explain how keeping automaker IP private is going to lower the cost of parts or improve their quality over the long run (I suspect the opposite, think PC vs. Mac). You also haven’t made an argument that the manufacturers are reliant on this IP secrecy for their business model. I’m not sure if I would agree with those priorities as a consumer, but at least I could respect the argument that keeping the parts racket under tight control allows Hondas (or whatever) to be sold for less than a gazillion dollars. Be careful if you do make that argument however, because it amounts to an admission that your backers overcharge for parts (and we all know that they do). Treating the dealer network as a near monopoly parts supplier for a particular brand is a trick that works a lot better on average consumers than enthusiasts, whom you are talking to now.

    You’ve made it clear that you aren’t trying to restrict vehicle maintenance to dealers, and I applaud that (on strategic grounds…it would be overreach and you would fail spectacularly), but you also don’t address the fact that OEM parts are often defective or easily improved. The prime example of this is electronics, specificially the engine mapping software. There’s a lot of room for improvement, or simply modification to suit owner taste here, as OEM mapping often contains dead spots, and, more recently, has begun to be informed by one consideration, emissions. A lot of owners are not with that particular program, and will gladly remove the hanging revs and lackluster throttle response if given half a seconds chance.

    I could go on part by part, but basically I don’t understand why I should want the OEM manufacturers to keep secrets regarding a product I drive every day, and spend thousands a year on in maintenance. It seems obvious to me that opening up the field would have the potential to lower my repair costs and improve my replacement parts, while reducing the substatial risk of failure that I face today doing so. If the OEM’s are really that much better at building and designing, the they’ll keep the parts business they deserve.

  • avatar
    Billy Bobb 2

    Lots of deluded shop owners and Auto Zoned customers actually believe part replacement instructions in 3 languages will fall out of a parts box if this passes.

    There is glut of repair info available. A GLUT.
    Ya work on Hyundai’s? Their site is FREE. Honda, Toyota, about 30 bucks a month. Volvo, a grand a month, just what the dealer pays.
    The NASTEF is a wonderful, voluntary solution that the majority of the repair industry has no friggin clue about.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    Sounds like bafflegab. If vehicle manufacturers are committed to providing service and repair information, which they claim is already widely available, why would they spend millions lobbying against “Right to Repair” legislation?

    A Canadian Right to Repair bill, which will require automakers to make information, software and tools available to independent repair shops and allow them to service newer, more sophisticated vehicles, has passed the second reading vote in the House of Commons.

    The European Union passed a right to repair law almost two years ago!

  • avatar
    tedward

    Will Charley Territo (or anyone willing to take credit for the article and its POV) be responding to questions in the comments?

  • avatar
    shaker

    tedward: “The prime example of this is electronics, specificially the engine mapping software… A lot of owners are not with that particular program, and will gladly remove the hanging revs and lackluster throttle response if given half a seconds chance.”

    Amen, brother – the hanging revs and agressive tip-in issue (after delay) is likely to reduce the life of my clutch!

    I drive my Elantra worse than my ’72 Fiat 128 – which had a worn-out camshaft and could barely make it up a 50% grade.

  • avatar
    faygo

    tedward allowing access to engine calibration source code is like asking MS/Apple/Palm/anyone else to release their OS source code because there are some people who want to tinker with it. it’s more serious than that in fact, because you make the product illegal (emissions modifications) by messing with the calibration. the worst you can do with your own computer is brick it & cost yourself time/money. if your car is illegal you end up with a ticket/fine. the manufacturers have no incentive to leave the door open for that sort of thing. the IP which is invested in the calibration is rightfully protected by the manufacturers. tuners can spend their time to hack it or build piggyback modules to trick it, consumers can pay for the fruits of their work.

    anyone is free to buy a car (or part of one) and copy the part & try to sell it wherever, for whatever. the market will dictate minimum standards for parts & price accordingly. it’s not the OE’s responsibility to hand out CAD for their parts or manufacturing processes.

    the procedure for repair is the area where things may not be quite as clear, but again, if you’re the manufacturer (or the licensed dealer of the OE who pays for that right) there’s no reason to just hand out the service procedures which you’ve developed. in some cases the shop manuals are free/subscription/etc. in some cases they’re only available to dealers or at high cost to independents.

    lobbying against junk legislation is valuable lest the results of said junk change what is already a working system.

  • avatar
    cterrito

    To begin with, we actually don’t spend millions lobbying against right to repair. Mainly because we don’t have to. This legislation has been rejected at every level of government. That being said, the CARE folks must be getting pretty desperate because for 8 years they’ve spent millions on lobbyists and PR firms with no avail.

    I also have a hard time believing it take months to access to a website. For the earlier poster maybe this will help. http://www.bmwtechinfo.com.

  • avatar
    cterrito

    Additionally, i’m not sure it’s very good for business to have te public perception of the industry be that they can’t fix cars. Most independents I know are as skilled as any dealer repairer.

  • avatar
    tedward

    faygo

    My point was that if you put an OE’s IP rights in front of me and ask me to support it, I won’t, because it is not in my interest. I’m happy to buy cars from manufacturers, but I don’t see a real utility on relying on them for software upgrades and part improvement (b/c, they don’t really do that very well, suprise suprise). It may be in BMW’s etc.. interest to protect their IP, but it certainly dosen’t help me any.

    I don’t see what my possible (but by no means necessary with a reflash) failed inspection has to do with a manufacturer’s interest. If I’ve blown the warranty then its of no concern to them, they shouldn’t have an interest in stopping me from doing so. The real interest there is preserving the value of “S, R, SS, etc…” power upgrades, which consist of little more than simple reflashes. If I buy my software from APR then I’m clearly not going to buy their 5k sport option.

    It could easily become the manufacturer’s responsibility to provide CAD for every moving part. That seems to be the point here. I know that I would benefit, and, I would contend, so would automotive consumers as a class. Seriously, why would I agree to condemn such a move?

  • avatar
    JoeEgo

    @ Gardiner Westbound:

    Wonder why manufacturers put money or effort into stopping legislation? Maybe because it will add costs and force them into a government mandated process when the NASTF probably works cheaper, more cooperatively, and quicker.

    Why does CARE agitate for this legislation? Maybe it would make parts development/copying cheaper?

    Everybody has an angle. And 99% of the time that angle benefits their bottom line.

    Finally, just because Canada and the EU pass a law does not mean anybody else should. Hate crimes legislation, nationwide speed cameras, and gun bans all sound like a bad idea to me no matter what other countries think. “Everybody’s doing it” is a horrible reason by itself.

  • avatar
    cterrito

    Faygo: there isn’t a fault code that isn’t that isn’t available to independent repairers or anyone else for that matter. It might not be programmed into a thrid party scan tool but that isn’t because the manunfacturer didn’t provide the information. You can’t buy the sport edition model of a vehicle and then complain that it doesn’t have all the extras the limited edition has.

    The calibration codes that this bill seeks access to are the IP of the manufacturer. Even dealers don’t have access to that information. Think about, ssentially franchised dealers are independent repairers once they service cars other than the vehicles they sell.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    It would be interesting to get an official response from the other side of this issue. The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers is hardly a neutral observer in this matter. If they had their way, all parts and service would have to be purchased from the original manufacturer. You see, they would be able to make more money that way. It really is that simple. Sacred IP rights arguments are always in service of making monopoly profits.

  • avatar
    cterrito

    I partially agree with you but folks that make parts are hardly the other side of this issue. I’d like to hear what some repairers have to say.

  • avatar
    RogerB34

    Free rights to intellectual property?
    Sorry about that!

  • avatar
    faygo

    @tedward wrote :

    My point was that if you put an OE’s IP rights in front of me and ask me to support it, I won’t, because it is not in my interest. I’m happy to buy cars from manufacturers, but I don’t see a real utility on relying on them for software upgrades and part improvement (b/c, they don’t really do that very well, suprise suprise). It may be in BMW’s etc.. interest to protect their IP, but it certainly dosen’t help me any.

    the OEs spend years & years on calibrations for the cars that they sell. they also don’t leave anything on the table in terms of power, trust me. at least not within the context of the vehicles being legal based on the regs.

    I don’t see what my possible (but by no means necessary with a reflash) failed inspection has to do with a manufacturer’s interest. If I’ve blown the warranty then its of no concern to them, they shouldn’t have an interest in stopping me from doing so. The real interest there is preserving the value of “S, R, SS, etc…” power upgrades, which consist of little more than simple reflashes. If I buy my software from APR then I’m clearly not going to buy their 5k sport option.

    true enough, you are putting yourself at risk. however, if you reflash, blow up your motor & then un-flash to make a warranty claim you’re defrauding the manufacturer. additionally, it’s not likely that just a reflash will get you the same engine package as the more expensive sport version. it doesn’t make any sense for a company to include extra content and not get money for it, so the lower hp version may not have forged pistons or a big enough turbo or whatever. that’s not to say that a reflashed Evo or A4 or whatever won’t last 100k and give you no issues, but the boost levels won’t pass whatever durability tests the manufacturer has decided are part of their business equation.

    It could easily become the manufacturer’s responsibility to provide CAD for every moving part. That seems to be the point here. I know that I would benefit, and, I would contend, so would automotive consumers as a class. Seriously, why would I agree to condemn such a move?

    again, why should the manufacturer be required to expose their IP for parts to anyone else ? if suppliers can make money by (reverse) engineering their own versions of an OE part, they will do it & you will be able to buy them.

  • avatar
    Richard Chen

    @John Horner:
    SFGate.com editorial by Bob Barr & Ralph Nader (!)
    RightToRepair.org
    EFF: Right-to-Repair Law Proposed … for Cars
    Wired Autopia
    Slashdot: Right-to-Repair Law To Get DRM Out of Your Car

  • avatar

    How things have changed …

    In Europe, auto manufacturers could keep that information proprietary and charge obscene amounts for diagnostic computers, sold to their dealers only. Who then sold them to independent workshops, much to the delight of the departments that sold the diagnostic computers. They could happily announce that every person at the dealership, from the cleaning lady on upwards, had his or her VAS 5051 … until they found out that they had been sold to Poland, along with the codes to disable the electronic immobilizer …

    The Block Exemption Regulation of 2003 changed all that. In Europe, auto manufacturers MUST make this information available to independent repairers.

    (We even made it available on the Internet , by the name of Erwin, another example of the sordid humor of yours truly .)

    With computers in every corner of the car, you need the info. And the way things are going, in the USA this information should be covered by the Freedom Of Information Act …. government info, funded by the taxpayer.

    This has NOTHING to do with auto manufacturers handing out the CAD files for their parts. But then again, as previously pointed out, with the government owning Chrysler and GM, that should be covered by the FOIA also.

    PS: Who let this clown in on TTAC? Is this penance for Baruth?

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Thank you Richard Chen. It isn’t often you find former Libertarian Presidential Candidate & former Republican Clinton Impeachment House Manager Bob Barr and Ralph Nader agreeing on something with such gusto.

    I think the Europeans have it right on this issue. Speaking of which, why do some of my fellow citizens looks with automatic disgust at anything Europe does differently than the US? Maybe it all goes back to the metric system’s bizarre fate in the USA.

  • avatar

    Opinion of an auto mechanic of 25 years. I work for a public fleet that pays for the online manual mentioned above. It is very slick and works great.

    But I noticed something. It is a direct port from the manufacturers service information. I confirmed this on a Chevrolet vehicle by logging into the Delco website and compared diagnostic tree charts and wire diagrams.

    For a private auto repair shop the question is about “free access to the intellectual property” How much do company’s pay to copy the car makers service information and resell it to hungry shops trying to fix cars?

  • avatar

    One more thing: The aforementioned Block Exemption Regulation also opened the market in Europe for independent parts makers. Manufacturers cannot anymore dictate their dealers where to buy parts (except for warranty repairs, for which the manufacturers pay the parts anyway – duh.) IP protection for parts pretty much went the way of the Dodo also. And if Bosch makes a water pump that is used in building a Golf, then Bosch can sell this part as “Original part for Volkswagen” (but not as “Original Volkswagen Part” because before leaving VW, yours truly saw to it that “Volkswagen Original Teil (R)” was trademarked …)

    The only exception to that rule: Outside body parts. They are protected by design patents. The parts industry now fights for a Repair Clause, which allows copy those parts for repair purposes (but not for building a car in China.) That law has been passed by the EU parliament but it’s not in effect yet, as the linked article explains.

    Again: The “Right To Repair” initiative does NOT cover parts. Has nothing to do with it. It’s the right to know what those trouble codes mean and what to do about them.

    As it is rightly remarked, there is the nasty Digital Millennium Copyright Act, “which prohibits bypassing or circumventing technological protection measures.” That nasty DMCA may very well get you in trouble with the law, if you tinker with your ECU — in America, the Land of The Free.

    Ain’t it absurd?

    [Disclosure: After fighting the Block Exemption Regulation for decades on behalf of VW, author changed sides after the law was enacted and is now in the independent parts business - with every twist and turn of the regs stored in his head.]

  • avatar
    wsn

    “Right to Repair” doesn’t make practical sense. Even if it passes, I assure you that BMW and MB will release just the right amount of info such that they comply with the law and still not enough to make things work quite right. Remember that Microsoft Java was supposed to work with Sun standard? And they actually signed a contract. Where did that go?

    Or, save yourself that trouble and buy a Lexus. It doesn’t break down.

  • avatar
    Billy Bobb 2

    Mr. Schmitt

    I completely disagree.As one who has gone from VW to the aftermarket perhaps being based out of the US has insulated you from the true “R2R” issue.

    The money behind R2R (parts big box store companies- Zone, Advance, Pep Boys, CSK, etc) want to reverse engineer, for example, an accelerator position sensor. Any part they can sling after a free code read in the parking lot.

    R2R is in no way about OBDII DTC’s which have been standarised since ’96.

    NASTEF.org links to all the NA OE Info sites.
    Just about all mfrs. are in voluntary compliance.
    The SDRM allows registered US locksmiths immbolizer codes. It’s all available. Now.

    So please, while I enjoy your reports from China, you’re way out of touch with the real R2R deal. In addition, your “end user” “installer” independents who actually own a Tech2, Starscan, or other OE scan tool, and who subscibe to an OE repair info site, would be insulted to know you think they need legislation and govt. meddling to diagnose and fix cars.

  • avatar

    Billy Bob: Need any reverse engineered accelerator position sensors? How many container loads? All perfectly legal in Europe.

    Eat your heart out – and continue paying the pornographic prices the OEMs charge. Some of these parts (especially sensors …) are marked up then times at the frikken wholesale level already.

    Standard OBD codes? Give me a break. There are gadzillions of proprietary bytes flowing through these CAN busses – as wsn rightly alluded to.

    Also, Autozone doesn’t want to reverse engineer. They aren’t in the manufacturing business. They want to buy and sell compatible parts at competitive prices. Just like their European buddies can.

    More and more and more parts have microcode in them. More and more parts need to be flashed during repair just to be compatible with the other parts on board – a nightmare in itself.

    Your 1996 OBDII manual won’t help you there ….

  • avatar
    Whuffo2

    I can’t believe the number of car manufacturer apologists that are posting to this thread.

    The whole point of this is to allow people to repair the vehicles that manufacturers produce.

    Would you rather perpetuate the current situation where the vehicle reports an error code that isn’t in any book that anyone other than the manufacturer or a dealer can see?

    Would you prefer that when your vehicle has a problem in the future that you’re required to go back to the dealer and pay their inflated price for repairs?

    Would you prefer that independent repair shops be prohibited from receiving the repair information that dealers receive? Information that the Mangusson-Moss warranty act requires that they receive?

    I see that there’s a few well-funded repair shops that have access to the diagnostic tools that will read all of the diagnostic codes. Bully for you – but what about all the other shops across the country that don’t have this information? Would you prefer that when you drive to wherever that service shops along the way are not able to help you with any problems you might have?

    The rest of you need to understand that there’s a federally mandated set of OBD-2 codes that everyone supports and those are available to every service shop. But the manufacturers have added additional codes to the mandated codes – codes that offer useful and valid diagnostic information.

    If you oppose “Right to Repair” then I hope you find yourself broken down in a place where the repair shops don’t have access to those “proprietary” codes. I hope you have to pay the labor charges for all the hours the shop spends tracking down the problem – a problem that those “proprietary” codes could have revealed in a moment.

    And I especially hope that your vehicle was made by a bankrupt and out of business company and there’s no way to figure out what the on board computer is saying. I hope you spend many hundreds of dollars trying to fix your car and I hope the repairs are unsuccessful.

    There’s too many fools that think that these auto manufacturers will last forever and that they’ll always be able to get their car fixed. That’s a very foolish assumption and fighting against the “right to repair” law will only make things worse.

  • avatar
    Martin Schwoerer

    “PS: Who let this clown in on TTAC? Is this penance for Baruth?”

    Bertel, my impression is that RF likes to publish all kinds of (occasionally outlandish) views, because it is subsequently enjoyable to see how the vigilant and informed B&B shreds misinformation to pieces.

  • avatar
    cterrito

    Bertel:
    I like the personal attacks. Keep it up. It’s good to see I got under your skin. I’ve been at this for a while and find that the only time people attack me personally is when they realize their arguments no longer make sense. Usually it is reserved for enviro groups so you’re are in good company.

    Prior to 2002 obtaining service informatioon from automakers was a challenge for a number reasons. Most importantly because of te transition from paper to online. Since our agreement with Sen. Dorgan in 2002 manufacturers have bent over backwards to make sure this information is available. Why? For one reason. Consumers. Manufacturers have nothing to gain by having consumers hate their vehicles because they can’t get them serviced by the repairer of their choice.

    Thanks for commenting.

  • avatar
    tedward

    faygo

    “again, why should the manufacturer be required to expose their IP for parts to anyone else?”

    Well, there isn’t a principled answer to this, it’s simply my belief that it would be in my best interest. If I was a manufacturer I’d say, “screw you sideways” to any proposal requiring me to give up my IP. I’m not though, I’m one of millions of consumers and my voting bang is being put up against their lobbying buck. I actually consider it pretty foolish of the manufacturing group to be publicizing any aspect of this legislation, keep it quiet and the dollar reigns supreme. Maybe this is laziness and they don’t want to ante up the same dough as the R2R supporters (so they try convincing us to screw ourselves over)?

    As far as reflashes go, its already the case that new software can be installed, but only by the very few shops that have bothered to invest in the unpacking. I could, right now, go out and blow up a turbo, reflash and claim warranty repairs, so this legislation won’t affect my ability to do that. What it could do is open up the field to more competition, and consumers would likely be able to obtain engine maps of better quality, for different purposes and at a lower cost.

    There is plenty of room for improvement in stock maps and settings without going for big power. I mentioned hanging revs and crap throttle response before…I would want that fixed on any brand new car I buy, and OE’s simply aren’t in the business of catering to individual customers (Honda I think actually did fix that due to customer outrage with the Civic Si, not sure).

  • avatar
    tedward

    faygo

    I feel like I should qualify my “there isn’t a principled answer to this,” stance. If cars weren’t completely necessary for the vast majority of the population I would be a lot less comfortable with that kind of argument. But they are, and as a result too many people are completely dependent on the repair infrastructure to go about their daily lives.

  • avatar
    Lou Loomis

    A friend asked me to take a look at this blog and I have to say that I am taken back at how some of the people on here are so quick to demonize the manufacturers for creating a product and trying to protect it? Isn’t that why we created patent and intellectual property protection laws to begin with?

    I took a look at the web sites that have been posted and something popped out to me when dong some digging.

    Companies like Auto Zone that are part of the CARE coalition and have spent millions in trying to get this legislation passed screaming that they are protecting the interests of the independent repair shop owner and consumers by ensuring that all information necessary to repair a vehicle is available. If that is the case then why do they also own ALLDATA (www.alldata.com) which happens to be a third party provider of the information they say they can’t get..??

    Here is a quote directly off of their web site and it even states that they are owned by AutoZone. ITS EVEN PATENT PROTECTED!

    “ALLDATA ® is the leading provider of OEM automotive repair, auto recalls, automotive software & service bulletins for the professional automotive service industry. Thousands of professional repair and collision shops across North America depend on ALLDATA for service and repair information, shop management and customer relations solutions.”

    As for repair shops unable to fix vehicles is an absolute farce. Almost 80% of all after warranty work is done by independent repair shops and there are many articles and even pieces run on the 24 hour news networks talking about how the independent repair business is booming due to the downturn of the economy and people opting to hold on to their older vehicles and repair them instead of buying a new one.

    If the information wasn’t available then how is business so good?

    I’ll tell you something else… I’d rather have an airbag deployment system built and tested by a manufacturer protecting my children than an aftermarket part that was ripped off, never tested and built in China. If you think the manufactures have no interest in protecting the consumers then what makes you think an aftermarket developer in China cares about protecting you and your family.

    At least the manufacturers here in the US are regulated by our government… what is China’s government doing? Oh, that’s right, allowing tainted toys to be shipped to the US to poison our children. Good choice!

  • avatar
    CarShark

    I don’t understand how anyone has a “right to repair”. When you buy a car, don’t you buy the collection of parts, not the IP behind them? If you don’t like it, don’t buy a car from anyone that does it, or buy and drive an older without the extra computers.

  • avatar
    nonce

    Can we get a “just the facts” post that explains exactly what information is and is not available?

    I can see requiring diagnostic and replacement information to be publicly available. This doesn’t require the exposing of source code. You don’t need to tell us how your built all the algorithms that monitor the fuel intake and run the engine, but consumers need to be able to get a replacement chip that functions exactly the same if theirs gets blown up.

    I work in software so I’m not quick to disparage IP rights. I think they are our future as more and more of our creative power gets put into them they will drive our economy faster and faster. But we still need protections for the people that use the stuff we make.

  • avatar
    tigeraid

    I work for an auto parts retailer. (No, not Autozone.)

    90% of auto parts are not affected by this bill, or its Canadian equivalent (which by the way, is currently being touted all over our country much the same way)…

    The 10% comes from the complex diagnostic equipment now required for “the little guy” to stay in business. People keep blaming this on our parts companies, claiming we’re being greedy and wanting a piece of the OE’s “diagnostic pie”, as it were.

    But the fact is, we sell quite a bit of diagnostic equipment for older cars already, and even then it doesn’t make up but a small, small percentage of our sales to local garages. I personally might only sell one or two of the premium $800-2000 scantools (Bosch, OTC, etc) a year.

    The problem comes purely on the shop’s side–And it will severely hurt the industry.

    No, not changing pads and rotors–that has evolved too, in that the aftermarket has scrambled to support ABS sensors and pad wear sensors.

    No, not changing wheels and tires–that has evolve too, in that the aftermarket has scrambled to support Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems.

    It comes with, in most cases, are the most elaborate and expensive repairs to begin with: drivetrain diagnostics. In the old days it was reading spark plugs and looking at exhaust smoke to tune the carb… Then it moved onto simple OBD-I code readers for a hundred bucks or so… Then it moved onto complicated OBD-II scan tools that cost over $1000, to today’s overly-complicated, obscenely priced diagnostic tools for late OBD-II, that work with the ABS computer, the climate computer, and god knows what else.

    And that’s only with the current generation of cars–as they get even more complicated with even more computer systems controlling things (hybrid systems, stability control, external sensors), even more and more complicated diagnostics will be required. Who knows, 10 years from now we might need some sort of crazy diagnostic tool to change tie rod ends!

    As obscenely expensive as they are, they’re available and any garage, big or small, and repair a car. This bill threatens their ability to do that, as the OEs will go completely proprietary. That means if you’re stranded in the middle of nowhere with the engine not running properly, Joe Busted-Knuckle can’t fix it for you, regardless of how much it costs.

    But the dealership two cities over? They’d be happy to charge you three times as much to diagnose it, sometimes only taking 15 minutes to do so. Working in this industry has taught me one thing–dealers charge way more money than they should for absolutely everything they do.

    Which of course brings us to the second reason this is selfish, Capitalist gouging–The freedom of the customer to go to the average Joe’s garage and pay a reasonable amount of money for repairs, instead of being raped by the dealer.

  • avatar
    tigeraid

    And as pointed out by nonce, providing diagnostic equipment to jobbers does not require you to reveal your source code. Keeping it secret is for one reason only–so that only the dealer can repair the car. Period.


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