By on May 19, 2012

The Right to Repair law winds its way through the Massachusetts legislature. The law was approved in the Senate last week, says the AP via Businessweek The law now heads to the House of Representatives. If that sounds like deja vu to you, then your memory is excellent.

The bill previously passed the Senate in 2010, but failed to come up in the House. A nationwide bill lingers somewhere in Washington, where it has been sent back to committee.

The Massachusetts law would require auto manufacturers that sell cars in the state to provide access to their diagnostic and repair information system through a universal software system that can be accessed by dealers and independent repairs shops, starting in 2015.

 

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43 Comments on “Massachusetts Right to Repair Law Left Senate...”


  • avatar
    Jesse

    As a Massachusetts resident, and a shadetree mechanic, I hope this passes.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      My brothers had dealerships in four states that sold new cars, and their layout for diagnostic equipment was mind-boggling.

      I know that as a shade-tree mechanic myself, I could not even come close to laying out that kind of cash for a laptop with firmware, diagnostic software, OBD/OBDII interfaces and an exhaust-gas analyzer probe.

      From that perspective it is cheaper overall and in the long run to buy a new car, keep it for as long as the warranty period lasts, and then trade it for another new one.

      • 0 avatar
        Jesse

        True, but I could bring it to my Indie mechanic to have codes read, and then fix it myself.

        Or have them turn of the pesky “service soon” light in my Volvo 850. They’d probably do it for free.

        Note: 2/3 of my cars (a ’73 and an ’82) don’t really matter anyway. My multimeter is the “code reader”.

  • avatar
    Silvy_nonsense

    And I’m sure the state is going to step in and pay to develop this amazing, universal system and then maintain in it over time?

    The idea that the specifications for such a system could be agreed upon, software coded to those specifications, then tested and rolled out by 2015 is a joke. (I doubt that the state could handle a simple IT initiative like upgrading all of its PC’s from XP to Win7 by then.)

    This legislation hits me as the kind of thing that will get quashed in Federal court based on a commerce clause argument. If not, getting the government mixed up in software is always a massively bad idea and I doubt this project will be any different. I support shade tree mechanics, but this is a well intentioned disaster waiting to happen.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      I think the intent of the law is to prevent manufacturers from claiming proprietary rights to their diagnostics systems and limit access to them to franchised dealers. Independent shops and independent (used car) dealers with repair facilities are unable to make complete repairs on customers’ or their own salable cars, and are forced to direct the business to franchised dealers.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        That is no doubt the underlying motivation, but manufacturers are only trying to protect their own interests and their own bottom line.

      • 0 avatar
        skor

        That’s it exactly it prevents car makers from declining to sell repair info and software to non-dealers. The independents would still have to pay for it at the same rate as the dealers.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        So if this legislation passes and OEMs are forced to divulge their diagnostic and testing criteria, firmware, software and equipment by selling to non-dealers and thereby undercutting their own self-interests, what’s to prevent the OEMs from going to modular electronics to manage vehicle systems?

        Once identified which module has failed or is under-performing by an independent repair center, these new replacement factory-modules cannot be purchased on the open market.

        For instance, sealed engine-management modules for Ford, GM, Chrysler, Toyota, Honda and probably other OEMs can only be bought from the OEM through a dealer or from a junk yard. That protects an OEMs interest. That won’t change with this new law.

        If this legislation passes, ALL manufacturers and OEMs would be well advised to redesign their sensors into electronic modules thereby limiting their availability to only authorized retail centers, like dealers.

        An example of that is that during the last century my neighbor was an authorized repair center for H-P Laserjet printers. And although many independent repair shops could diagnose a problem, new-parts availability was only obtained through his service center. And he was forced to charge accordingly since he now had to make his money from retail sales instead of labor.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        If the diagnostic system specs are public, it could open up the door for low cost 3rd party diagnostic systems that could be rented out by auto parts stores.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        ……So if this legislation passes and OEMs are forced to divulge their diagnostic and testing criteria, firmware, software and equipment by selling to non-dealers and thereby undercutting their own self-interests, what’s to prevent the OEMs from going to modular electronics to manage vehicle systems?…

        HighDesertCat: An interesting point. Let’s look at computers, where the non-proprietary open architecture has allowed for a massive cut in cost, tons of competition and loads of software. IBM tried to kill that in the 80′s – anybody out there recall MicroChannnel – and they failed to do so for a lot of reasons. But what happens if that kind of thing does come to pass where you are forced to go to one source (the dealer) for repair? Are you going to get a reasonable repair price? Not a chance. Even with competition from independents the dealers still rob you blind. If trading cars every few years works for you, great, but that is not a choice that most can (or want to for that matter) make. An interesting parallel can be seen in, of all things, fire alarms in commercial buildings. There are only a few manufacturers, and all of them are proprietary in terms of software and hardware. It used to be that systems were supported for 20 years, but now the manufacturers “obsolete” the systems in 10 years. When the systems are supported, any software issues must involve the manufacturer. After 10 years, once the stock of replacement boards and the like are gone, you either find used ones or try to pay for rebuilding them. Until you get back online, you hire fire guards to walk the buildings or you are required (at least where I work) to close them. The intentional lack of support forces replacements which can easily be in the millions of dollars. It may be in the best interest of the companies, but it most certainly is not in the best interest of the public, building owners, or municipalities, and hence the taxpayers.

        Why would anybody be opposed to requiring the ability to have your vehicle fixed by any shop you chose? Any time you structure a vital need in such a way that the few (manufactures) profit excessively over the many (consumers) you create an environment which begs for government intervention. I would think that making information available at are reasonable cost would keep the regulators at bay and provide choice for repair. I would love to own a BMW. But since I like to keep my cars, I would become beholden to the stealership for even simple things like a battery replacement. And I refuse to do so. Any maker who goes out of their way to make their product dealer-serviceable only will never have my business.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        golden2husky, I completely understand the motivation behind this proposed legislation, but where is the protection of the OEM’s proprietary rights?

        If YOU were to invent or develop something unique that you want to bring to market, why would YOU want to be legally forced to divulge your brain-child.

        This isn’t mental masturbation. This presents legal ramifications down the line in other industries as well. And for that reason I would be surprised if this proposed legislation passes and is then expanded for nationwide application and acceptance.

        Like Obamacare, if enacted, I believe this would go up to the US Supreme Court. And if smart, the OEMs would find a way to modularize and seal all their proprietary gear so as to force people to buy from them. Codes is one thing. OEM modules quite another.

      • 0 avatar
        siuol11.2

        Which in this case is extremely damaging to customers and other repair shops?

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        I get protecting the manufacturer’s rights, but I am wondering out loud about how this worked in the past and (mostly) present. How can I buy aftermarket parts from a non OEM supplier right now without problems? I have bought things like Chrysler electronic ignition modules in the past. Isn’t that theft of Chrysler’s design? Or how can somebody manufacture their own window regulator for a car like VW that has a high rate of failures? I would think protecting intellectual rights would also cover these items too, but the aftermarket thrives on making non OEM parts, often without the cost cutting issues that caused the failure in the first place. I do know that GM initially went after people who started to reproduce parts for classic GM cars, but a licensing agreement was made and authorized reproduction parts are sold commonly. What really makes one thing different from the other? I would think that providing information could be handled the same way, namely a fair price for the repair information.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        golden2husky, in the past it didn’t work, that’s why there is proposed legislation now, to stop the endless litigation that was so common in the past.

        That’s another reason why manufacturers stopped the proliferation of their proprietary wares, and that is exactly why the independents are hoping that this legislation will pass and grant them access to proprietary information.

        In computer terms, this is akin to divulging the inner workings of Apple and Microsoft software-kernel command operations.

        And we are able to buy third-party proprietary goods like ignition models on the open market now because of licensing agreements.

        This is such a complicated matter that I think it highly unlikely that it will pass in Mass and be implemented nationwide.

        Now if California was doing this sort of thing it would likely pass as many other legislation that started in California has already been implemented nationwide.

        But even in California, I would imagine that passing this type of legislation forcing manufacturers to divulge proprietary information would go over like a lead brick in Silicon Valley.

        Once this is passed it becomes the precedence for all sorts of proprietary infringements and shareware.

        BTW, for those guys who think they can get a cheap OBDII reader and get all the manufacturers codes, think again.

        I have seen Toyota’s diagnostics system in action firsthand, and it gives readouts that tell the whole story and cross-link data from all the sensors. A lot more data there than just a series of codes.

        And Ford’s system is even more extensive, although I have never seen it work myself. Both systems have access to the manufacturer’s technical data base and allow narratives.

        That really is hitting the mother lode of automotive information if independents can get access to that. It would also reveal known technical problems that the manufacturers have been keeping from the public.

    • 0 avatar
      Silvy_nonsense

      As reported above, the law would “require auto manufacturers that sell cars in the state to provide access to their diagnostic and repair information system **through a universal software system** that can be accessed by dealers and independent repairs shops”

      That’s not the same as offering access to existing diagnostic test equipment and software at non-discriminatory terms and prices. It’s possible Bertel didn’t summarize correctly and I haven’t read the proposed legislation, but assuming Bertel’s summary is correct, the law goes way beyond non-discriminatory access and pricing. It’s requiring the invention of some magic hardware/software system that doesn’t now exist. That can’t end well.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTheDriver

      And yet, thanks to the ODB II law/regulations I can plug a $15 code reader into my Porsche and get most of the diagnostic codes.

      • 0 avatar
        icemilkcoffee

        I was just going to point out the same thing. OBDII is a perfect example of a government mandated databus which has been completely successful and universally adopted.

  • avatar
    "scarey"

    Getting the government mixed up in anything besides the protection of the citizens is always a massively bad idea.

    • 0 avatar
      Silvy_nonsense

      This legislation is a form of consumer protection. I don’t object to the concept, I object to the particular solution.

      Counterpoint – Public roads are a pretty good idea and they don’t protect us from anything other than slow, bumpy rides to work over open terrain.

  • avatar
    Jerith

    I’d worry for consumer protection. Not all shady-trees may be fully trained on the equipment and could toast a car if done wrong. I can see special tools available for sale but the computer modifications/diagnostics equipment may need insurance put on it just in case replacement is needed for s customers equipment. Heck, some mechanics at the dealership I work at still need help with the laptops that connect on a private wireless system. They are trained for the system, but a laptop may still be a bit out of their job description when just trying to make a printer work.

    When it comes to special tools such as a special bent elbow grease nipple gun for a u-joint on one certain 3 year model truck (Example). Sure. Put those up for sale. Our dealership has sold special tool sets to other dealerships. If you sell a Viper you are required to be able to service it. $30,000 later its a use-once set.

    It should all be approached cautiously and not thrown into law in less than two years. That is insane. The “system” could be archaic before it is even finished. Cars evolve.

    • 0 avatar
      mkirk

      Yeah because no dealer service department has ever screwed up someones car. If a shop is laying out what this stuff is sure to cost then they probably don’t qualify as “shadetree”.

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    Now access could be accomplished as easily as:

    One. Standard interface much as per OBD II of today allowing connection to a PC;
    Two. Diagnostic software residing on the OEMs mainframe;
    Three. Access to diagnostic software via Internet.

    Third party access could be assured by paying a reasonable subscription fee.

    This would also allow a convenient way for OEMs to push new software updates out to vehicles in the field.

  • avatar
    Charliej

    Auto manufacturers are doing the same thing a television manufacturers. For 43 years I was an electronics technician. For the last 27 years I owned a TV repair business. I did warranty work for over ten brands, Including all the top Japanese brands. I went to many schools to stay up to date on theory and practice. I invested many thousands of dollars in test equipment. Starting about five years ago, some manufacturers began limiting the service information they provided. Now, many more brands provide NO service info. The new paradigm is the “trunk monkey”, a poorly trained young person who can replace circuit boards. The flaw in the thinking, is that the “trunk monkey” can fix all problems. Some highly trained technicians are needed to repair the sets that are beyond the capabilities of the “trunk monkeys”. However, the highly trained technicians are not around any more, not being able to survive on the scraps thrown their way by the manufacturers. Be careful that this does not happen with auto repair. Having good independent repair shops is crucial to keeping auto repair affordable. Once you lose these shops, they will not be back.

  • avatar
    daveainchina

    This can’t pass fast enough to my way of thinking. Some of us are as good if not better than many of the mechanics out there and we’d rather do it ourselves but with modern car systems frequently we can’t get the diagnostic information we need to correctly diagnose a vehicles issue.

  • avatar
    NMGOM

    I agree with “scarey”. This law is out of bounds, IMHO.

    The government of Massachusetts has always felt it knew better what to do for the “common good” rather than rely on free enterprise. That is why that state has (or had) the highest state income tax rate in America. And it explains why businesses often leave Massachusetts to incorporate elsewhere.

    This particular issue comes down to private property and ownership. If my intellectual property for my product (here, a car) comprises confidential operational software, then that’s my business and no one else’s. Under the Constitution, I am under no obligation to give it away to anyone. A car is not a public conveyance; it is a private right for me to make that product and to sell it for as much profit as the market will bear. And if you don’t like my product and the rules by which I choose to maintain and repair it for you, then go buy somebody else’s product. It’s all that simple.

    (Look at a BMW 3-series: they can charge $38K for an entry version because people are willing to pay for that level of reputation, quality, design, and performance. If you don’t want to pay that; buy a Hyundai. Or if you don’t want to pay that either, then get a 1996 Ford and fix it yourself.)

    Sometime people seem to have forgotten what our country is based on, and its founding principles.

    ————-

    • 0 avatar
      mkirk

      There is a ballance here though. As a car maker, your intelectual property is now parked in my driveway and I have paid you a handsome sum to do this. I do not think they should be compelled to make this stuff available for free, but they should not be able to dictate either that I have there intellectual property serviced as there intellectual property is now my real property. If I have purchased the product don’t I have certain rights as well?

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        Not in regards to intellectual property.

        As your property, you may do with it as you please. It is perfectly legal for you to reverse engineer their systems and then work on them.

        Now, I don’t have a problem with laws that require certain required maintenance info be published, because that makes it easier to own their products, which in the end helps sell them. But there is a difference between maintenance and how things really work–how to replace a circuit board is one thing, the programming on that board is something else.

        Having anything standard across-the-board requires industry agreement, such as through SAE. I like standardization, and I have no problem with nudging the car companies down that road. But I don’t know enough about this law to decide if it is good or not.

    • 0 avatar
      racer-esq.

      “Sometime people seem to have forgotten what our country is based on, and its founding principles.”

      Stolen Native American land and slavery? Massive Federal subsidies to railroad companies? Massive Federal subsidies to states to create public universities? A war that built up American industry with Keynesian spending while decimating the industrial capacity of Germany and Japan for a generation? The business generating consumption that came from a strong, large middle class, as opposed to the current wealth hording by a very small percent of the population? The government funded research that led to the integrated circuit and internet?

      I disagree with this law, but for nuanced reasons, not because of strict adherence to the shallow and incorrect worldview of Ayn Rand and company that the government is evil.

      Going back to the actual founder of modern market theory, Adam Smith (instead of an idiot reactionary that fantasized about being raped on railroad tracks, i.e. Ayn Rand), Smith believed that government intervention was necessary to preserve competition. He even believed in things like public education and roads.

      That is what this is in concept – government intervention to preserve competition. It should be at the Federal level, not the state level, and there are some other technical flaws, but this is in concept just an update of Magnuson–Moss Warranty Act, ensuring COMPETITION between dealer service departments and independent service shops.

      It would be nice if more people would read Smith’s “An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations”, and less the reactionary whiny crap that Rand wrote. Government has a proper and important role to play in a strong market economy, in providing infrastructure and education, and in ensuring the preservation of competition.

      People forget that it is not private ownership or profit that makes capitalism work, it is competition.

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        With regard to your first paragraph, you are presenting a litany of items that show both the positive and negative effect of a federalist state. There can be abuses on either side, since no system among sinful men will ever be perfect. Our founding fathers did not say that government was always evil, but that it was a necessary evil that should be kept to a minimum. I’m sure you’ve read: “that government is best which governs least”.

        My view was based more on the Austrian school. There is small book you may enjoy, “The Road to Serfdom”, by Friedrich A. Hayek.

        You said: “…the current wealth hording by a very small percent of the population..” This is nonsense. It represent a typical socialist, egalitarian view that the wealthy somehow did not earn what they have, and that they sleep on piles of cash stuffed into their consequently lumpy mattresses. In fact, the fraction of America’s total capital base actually held by the wealthy is small, but the investment potential for new businesses they can display by control of wealth is enormous.

        But actually, you do have a good point about using Government to promote competition, and that does hark back to the Taft era, and breaking up the industrial-boss syndrome in NY. A recent example in which the Government could have helped even more in this regard, is to have let GM go into structured bankruptcy to provide individual car companies once again. After all, Japan has 8, Germany has 8; we (being 10 time larger), have only 3?! Does that make sense?

        Nonetheless, I am firmly convinced that if I build a car that has my proprietary software (and/or hardware), and your attempting to “get at it” under the guise of “repair”, then I have every right,– legal, financial, and otherwise — to discourage your theft (which is what it is).

        Example: I currently own a small BMW, so I’ll pick on them. BMW has been at the forefront of using more computer control in modern vehicles than any other car manufacturer. This was an R&D investment over decades. They have right to protect that, and reap the reward of their intelligence and hard work.

        If I were BMW, and had a Right-to-Repair law imposed on me and my products, the solution is very plain: I would use current dealerships in MA to service and repair vehicles 5 years old or older; and open or enlarge dealerships in surrounding more sensible states (NY, VT, NH, CT, RI) for the sales and service of new vehicles. After all, in the worldwide big picture of BMW’s profitability, and the worldwide risk of losing proprietary software, I’ll easily create some inconvenience for MA residents, a minor issue considering all things. Maybe that inconvenience would encourage them repeal the Right-To-Repair measure. Or they could always buy Fords.

        Someone (“Mkirk”) brought up the point of saying that he may have that right. There is no such thing. Fiddling with a product is at the discretion of the manufacturer; that’s why there are warranties that specify: “If you mess with it, we won’t cover it”. Kind of like going into a porcelain shop and damaging a vase: “You break it, you own it”. I knew 2 things right up front with the BMW:
        1) All maintenance and repairs are free for 4 years (GREAT!);
        2) After that, you can do almost NO REPAIR; you need to bring it in; and it’ll cost you big bucks (TOO BAD, but that’s they way sophisticated, modern products are, and I must accept it).

        Someone else (“golden2husky”) assumes there is such a concept as “essential services”, which is another euphemism for wealth equalization. There is no such thing either. If you can’t afford a medical procedure (like the Milkemhard 2000), then you don’t get it. If your not getting it results in your death, then that’s the way it is. People have been dying for years now, something we all do. Perhaps we should get off this immortality kick. Ultimately, lIfe is not fair: we are not here to try to equalize outcome; we are here to try to equalize opportunity, — hopefully as compassionately and REALISTICALLY as possible. (BTW: maybe you can petition some of those “filthy rich” whom you have been disparaging, and be surprised to discover how many would be willing to help…along with your friends, church members, and neighbors.)

        —————

      • 0 avatar
        aristurtle

        What this comes down to, NMGOM, is whether or not you really own the car that you purchase. You said “Fiddling with a product is at the discretion of the manufacturer”. I can’t think of anything more horrifying. If you can’t “fiddle with a product”, you are de facto renting that product, not purchasing and owning it.

        Moreover, before you start ranting about what the U.S. Constitution and “our founding fathers” intended about intellectual property, you might want to read what the actual document says. The Constitution allows for intellectual property restrictions in order to “promote the progress of science and useful arts”; i.e. to promote a public interest, not to recognize an inherent right to imaginary property.

        And the auto industry didn’t crumble when OBD-II was standardized. It functioned just fine for a century before we started some of the modern shenanigans that manufacturers try with, e.g., an encrypted handshake over CANbus to block out third-party replacement parts.

      • 0 avatar
        bryanska

        I agree with you and the similar posters below. Otherwise we better be aware not to invent anything TOO popular, because it will become so common that people become entitled to it. See the iPhone and how several countries considered legislation to make it available on non-launch networks. Because people really, really wanted it.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      Doctor to Mr. NMGOM: Your wife has a serious illness. We likely can save her life, but the procedure requires the the Milkemhard 2000. This is such a rare procedure that we don’t even own a Milekemhard machine. But there is one available at the hospital in NYC and the procedure can be done there. But the use of the machine is not covered by insurance. The maker charges for the use of each machine, and that cost is $200,000. Surly you can get an equity loan on your home for this, right….yep, based on maximizing profit for as much as the market will bear. I might be pushing it with the example, the the concept is sound. I do not accept the business model where absolutely essential services are priced out of reach of those who need them. And I doubt the founding fathers would agree to profit at any price either.

      • 0 avatar
        Robert.Walter

        Surely there must be a manual, or oral, alternative to that machine.

      • 0 avatar
        noxioux

        On the other hand, would the founders have said that you have an inherent right to the fruits of someone else’s labor?

        If the Milkemhard 2000 is so rare, then it seems disingenuous to call it an “essential service”. Rarity is the same thing as exclusivity, which demands a higher price.

        Just because something exists, that could help you, doesn’t mean you have an inherent right to its ownership or use, any more than some guy out on the street has a right to mug you and take your money so he can buy a sandwich.

        I personally hate the direction the modern car manufacturers have taken over the years. They’ve purposely made it harder and harder to make your own repairs. But that’s their choice. My choice is to buy something older, cheaper and easily repairable. I don’t have to buy their cars. Simple as that.

      • 0 avatar
        CRConrad

        @Robert.Walter: Sure, but that manual or oral alternative is covered by the manufacturer’s “intellectual property”, so it’s illegal to perform/prescribe.

  • avatar
    Exfordtech

    I seem to recall back in my days in the dealerships that it was possible for aftermarket shops to purchase all the service manuals for any FMC vehicle as well as PCED (Powertrain Control and Emissions Diagnosis) manuals. You could buy paper or CD versions through Motorcraft. Not sure if you could buy the laptop scan tool system but that was on the order of 20k anyway. Most but not all non dealer techs (as well as a sizeable number of part hanging hacks in the dealership) would be baffled just trying to manuever through the PCED never mind fixing the car. The info is there already if you are willing to take the risk in paying for it and trying to make money at it.

  • avatar
    Cabriolet

    If a problem develops with your car you can always seek out a shop that only works on your brand of car. Most of these shops have the updated programs to service your car. Myself i have programs written by Vag Com which cover all model VW, Seat, Skoda, Audi automobiles for the last 16 years and earlier. The programs are free with free updates as long as you purchase the computer line to attach to your computer. You can scan the entire car within a few minutes and know just what is wrong plus you can adjust various settings and add features like being able to close or open the windows and sunroof from inside your house in case of rain or to cool off the car before getting into it. If Mass passes this law it will be tied up in court for years.

  • avatar
    djn

    My 91 Alfa uses a code method invented by Marconi….flashing lights.

  • avatar
    its me Dave

    I couldn’t help but remember the Duntov memo and the benefits of crowdsourcing. Sure wish the car companies would.

    http://www.corvetteactioncenter.com/history/duntov_letter.html“

  • avatar
    Yoss

    I know it’s a defeatist attitude on my part, but whether this law passes or not, the industry will continue to move toward an ever-tightening corporate grip on consumer products. It’s a similar situation with music, movies, video games — even the printed word. Having a tangible sense of ownership is going out of style. Everything is out there in the “cloud.” Businesses are pushing it because they want control of the revenue stream and people are lapping it up for the sake of convenience.

    We, the people that look at vehicles as more than point A to point B appliances and accessories, are in the minority. Or if not hardcore auto enthusiasts — we’re simply practical people that don’t mind getting our hands dirty. We are the minority. The cold-blooded bean counters know that. They’ll put their focus on the majority that simply do not care how or where the vehicle is serviced. They’ll just drop it off like they’re told and pay their fee. The rest of us will be dragged along kicking and screaming and make do as best we can with the scraps.

  • avatar
    NMGOM

    To “aristurtle”….

    Very good points. And I’d like to elaborate on one in particular:

    1) You said, “What this comes down to, NMGOM, is whether or not you really own the car that you purchase. You said “Fiddling with a product is at the discretion of the manufacturer”. I can’t think of anything more horrifying. If you can’t “fiddle with a product”, you are de facto renting that product, not purchasing and owning it.”

    This is indeed really worth exploring.

    “Ownership” of something comprises (perhaps among other things):
    …a) Possession
    …b) Control
    …c) Documentation

    Now, if you “buy” a new vehicle by financing, you only THINK it’s yours. You only THINK you “own” it, but that may be an illusion. You certainly can put it in your garage at night. But Possession may actually belong to the bank. You do have some ability to Control the vehicle, but the manufacturer’s warranty prevents you from intrusive “fiddling”, or, for any repairs you will bear the cost. And Documentation attesting to ownership won’t come until you have paid off your loan!

    So do you really own it? Miss one car payment and watch what happens! As you mentioned, this is very much like renting, or it’s not that different from a car lease agreement.

    It would seem that the only time you have real “ownership” is if you bought a CPO vehicle beyond its warranty period, and paid cash for it. Then you may really meet all three criteria of Possession, Control, and Documentation. (And even then, if you find some magical way to access BMW’s proprietary software above and beyond their OBDII standards, and sell it on the open market, make sure you have a bloody good attorney!)

    —————-


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