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What is Right-to-Repair and Why is it Important?

Mar 30, 2023
Michael J. O'Connor

With technology becoming a bigger part of the automobile industry every day, there are always new challenges to overcome. As vehicles become more dependent on tech for things like engine control, emissions, and maintenance, it is important to know how to navigate the landscape. Automakers are constantly innovating and designing new systems, which can create conveniences as well as roadblocks for consumers. Knowing what you can about the right-to-repair movement can help you make the right choices when you head to the dealership. 

The right-to-repair movement is an initiative proposed by consumers and government entities to make vehicle data and repair information accessible. Vehicle technology is becoming more computer-oriented instead of mechanically oriented, especially for electric vehicles, and this can present issues when repairs have to happen. Making sure that you can get your car fixed for a fair price is the core of the right-to-repair movement. Since many electronics manufacturers are trying to stop it, car owners need to understand what it is and why it is so important. 

What is Right-to-Repair?

It is usually legal to repair any item you own when something goes wrong with it. However, when proprietary technology is used in an item, it can be difficult to get the information that is needed to make that repair. This makes it hard to fix things like computers, smartphones, and other items that operate on a purely digital platform. Without an understanding of the code and technology used, your only option for repair is to take the item to the manufacturer. 

The problem with taking an item to the manufacturer exclusively for service is that they then have a monopoly on repair costs. This can drive up prices and increase the odds that you will have to replace an item instead of fixing it when something goes wrong. This increases waste and disincentivizes manufacturers from making items that are built to last. If the data required to repair items is made openly available, you will be able to get something fixed for a fair price instead of buying something new. 

Why is Right-to-Repair Important for Car Owners?

For years, there have been repair manuals and schematics available to the public so a shop can properly fix any issue that comes up. However, as digital technology becomes a bigger part of new vehicles, it has gotten harder to get access to the data a technician needs. This can present some serious barriers to maintenance and service and make it so only the manufacturer can perform repairs. If that happens, you won’t be able to go to your favorite shop to have your car fixed anymore and you may have to pay a lot more for regular upkeep. 

For many years, technicians have been able to get information about your vehicle’s performance by running a check using the OB-2 port and a scanner. This scanner checks all the systems and displays a code that allows the technician to diagnose the issue. However, many new vehicles use wireless data transmission to diagnose issues and, in some cases, even make repairs. If manufacturers don’t allow independent technicians to access this diagnostic data, they could be blocked from working on your vehicle at all. This access to data is one of the main causes of the right-to-repair movement and will be the deciding factor in how your car is repaired in the future. 

Who is Against Right-to-Repair?

For the most part, the entities that are against right-to-repair are the manufacturers of the technology themselves. They have a vested interest in keeping repair data private and difficult to access. If you can only get your vehicle or other item repaired by the manufacturer, they will be able to set prices and decrease competition in the space. Because of this, proponents of right-to-repair are working hard to create legislative proposals that will ensure consumers have a choice when it comes to getting something fixed. 

The companies that are against right-to-repair also want to make sure that instead of repairing their products, you just replace them. One of the ways they do this is by ending support of certain products that are wirelessly controlled and accessed. This forced obsolescence makes it impossible to keep an item for longer than the company deems necessary. Having right-to-repair laws on the books will ensure that you can buy an item and keep it working for a lot longer.  

Benefits of Right-to-Repair

Freedom to Go to a Shop You Love

As a car owner, having a relationship with your mechanic is one of the best things you can do for yourself. Without right-to-repair laws, you will no longer be able to go to your favorite shop or have your choice of new shops when something goes wrong. Ensuring your ability to decide where you go for auto repairs is one of the top priorities of the right-to-repair movement. 

Decreases Repair Monopolies

When the number of choices you have for auto repair is reduced, you could end up facing much higher costs. Because your options will be limited without right-to-repair, manufacturers will have a monopoly on the entire industry for their specific cars. This means that prices could go up and you will be at the behest of the manufacturer when it comes to wait times and the availability of components. Right-to-repair gives you the choice to bring your car where you want and increases competition among service providers. 

Ensures Consumer Privacy

One of the major downsides of wireless connectivity in a vehicle is the fact that this data can be used for all kinds of purposes. Companies can use your data for advertisements, they can sell it for a profit, and they can track your movements whenever you are operating the vehicle. Right-to-repair eliminates the secrecy of this data collection and makes sure that your privacy is as secure as possible. 

Exercise Your Right to Repair Your Vehicle With High-Quality Technicians

Being able to get your vehicle fixed in the way you see fit is important if you want the best work done by qualified professionals. As technology moves forward and the automobile industry finds its place in the field, your agency over your vehicle’s maintenance and service must be preserved. Knowing what right-to-repair is and how it can affect your decision-making when you buy a car will help you make informed choices.

If you need help exercising your right to repair your vehicle, ServiceUp is here for you. With one easy-to-use dashboard to help you manage your maintenance, collision, and mechanical repair needs, it has never been easier to get your vehicle fixed by qualified, experienced technicians. Whether you need simple oil changes or major body work, ServiceUp will take care of everything and get you back on the road. Get an estimate today to find out how ServiceUp can help!

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