‘Right to Repair’ gives customers information about their vehicles | Consumer Reports

When your check engine light comes on, you might not know what’s wrong, but your automaker does – and it doesn’t have to share that information with you!

Wireless technology allows automakers to be the gatekeeper of your car’s information.

There’s a bill in Congress that will change that.

Here’s a breakdown of “Right to Repair” laws.

Service technicians say just because you’re in the driver’s seat, doesn’t give you total control if there’s a problem with your ride.

“So that’s your car, but you don’t get to make decisions on how it’s taken care of. Who takes care of it ... even if you want to do your own service. All of a sudden, it’s not your car anymore,” Dustin Atwood, a service technician, said.

If your car breaks down, CR said automakers direct you to the dealership.

But is that always the best option?

“They could let it set out there however long they want. And you have no options to get it repaired quicker somewhere else,” Atwood said.

“Right to Repair” is supported by organizations like Consumer Reports.

It gives customers information about their vehicles.

That way, consumers have a choice on where to go for repairs.

Leaders with the auto care association say having options saves money.

“Through our research and surveys, we have conducted – the cost of repair is on average 36 percent less in the independent aftermarket rather than the dealership,” said Bill Hanvey, President and CEO of Auto Care Association.

The National Automobile Dealers Association opposes the right to repair. You can read their statements here.

“The security issue is kind of a red herring. Repair shops just need the data required to fix your car; they’re not rewriting the car’s software. What’s really dangerous is people driving unrepaired cars around because they can’t afford to take it to the manufacturer,” said Justin Brookman with CR.

NADA said necessary information to repair vehicles is already available, but service techs tell consumer reports – it’s not enough and confusing.

“When I’m working on domestic, European, and Asian – it’s all over the board with the equipment that I need. The websites … in order to get those cars repaired,” Atwood said.

The Right to Repair “issue” goes beyond cars.

Consumer Reports said you can run into the same problems when trying to fix your electronics.

About the Authors:

Alli Graham came aboard the digital team as an evening digital content producer in June 2022.