Do You Have The Right To Repair?

Dustin stockton
by Dustin stockton

Growing up my family owned a Jeep Wagoneer that consistently broke down towing our boat. My frugal parents couldn’t afford to have it repaired by a mechanic so my Pop dutifully bought the repair manual and spent his days off cursing under the hood in our driveway. He eventually grew so frustrated that he dropped a 500cu Cadillac engine in that old Jeep. Technology has made do-it-yourself repairs little more than nostalgic memories. Now it takes expensive diagnostic computers to identify why the light on the dash came on. And not only are the diagnostic computers expensive but in many cases the codes are proprietary. With recent dealership closures, congress has proposed legislation to protect consumers access to this critical repair information. HR 2057, the Rural Communities Stranded Without The Right To Repair Act would require auto manufacturers to make repair information and computer diagnostic codes available to the general public.

The people at want you to imagine not having to pay $80-$150 at a dealership for them to tell you that your O2 sensor has gone out and are ramping up efforts to pass the bill [press release via Reuters]. Manufacturers need not fear this legislation, for the simple reason that it won’t magically make people like me able to fix their own vehicles. If anything, attempting repairs myself would actually improve business for my local mechanic. If nothing else though, my complete lack of mechanical competence combined with the passage of this legislation will ensure that my kids will be able to grow up with their own memories of daddy yelling at the car.

Dustin stockton
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  • Infra Infra on Oct 14, 2009
    It would take and hour just to pull all that shit off to be able to get to anything. As I own an IS and have worked on it myself, it takes no more than 5 minutes to either take the covers off, or put them back on. The covers help improve airflow in the engine bay and keep the engine running cooler, and quieter as it doesn't need as large of a fan. Also, if you look, you'll see the intake to the airbox right infront of the engine.
  • Tedward Tedward on Oct 14, 2009

    As others have said, this has little to do with repairing a car, and everthing to do with IP control. This would be the flip side of that "admin" authored shill piece that showed up a while ago railing against this same legislation. Neither article is really addressing the issue forthrightly. cdotson said, "These days there are powertrain control modules, body control modules, and who knows how many other brain boxes that aren’t nearly as standardized as ECUs, don’t all communicate with each other or using similar protocols" That hits it right on the head for me as a consumer...the software is intentionally made unavailable and is often not done right. Screw the IP stranglehold, I want as many companies as possible to have access to my car's codes. I want improvements to be varied and I want them to be affordable. This isn't however, an issue of poor rural home mechanics being stranded by their evil (of Axis power origin most likely) modern cars.

  • Power6 Power6 on Oct 14, 2009
    YOU ARE NOT QUALIFIED TO WORK ON YOUR NEW CAR Whatever Mr. Sloan dude. I'll share a truth with you that nobody likes to hear: in any field of work, most people suck or are just mediocre, and a few are really good. I know I will give a mechanic a hard time, but the fact is most of the time I do know more than them. It does hurt, just like it hurts when my Dentist is better with his Blackberry than I am. Some people are insulted, and some people would rather learn to be better than be offended. Fact is most mechanics aren't actually enthusiasts, or they aren't crazy about your particular car, they see all kinds. That is great for general experience, but with the Internet enabling so much information sharing, the average enthusiast actually has the information advantage. I recall having a discussion about oil type and grade with my local dealer with regards to my SRT-4. All he could tell me was what was reccomended in the computer. That is all he knows. And I am like "You don't understand, we have discussed oil with the engineers at SRT, yes the guys who designed the car, the ones who help support the Mopar parts and the race teams..." how can the average mechanic beat that?
  • Anonymous Anonymous on Oct 15, 2009

    HighRPM & Power6, Right on! The internet is a WONDERFUL invention for us backyard mechanics. Although it may take me a bit more time than a professional, I KNOW I'm doing the job right with the BEST part/fluid for the job. And it's MY car, so no mysterious scratches or grease spots on the interior anymore....