Massachusetts was the first state to enact the “Right to Repair” measure.. 86% of the voters voted for the law. If this present measure passes, we will be in a similar position to California, which was the first state to mandate emission standards for new cars, and Massachusetts will be the first state to mandate owner access to repair information on the new generation of computerized cars
In the face of all the scare tactics and outright lies and paid endorsements coming from the opponents of Question 1, it is damn hard to be thoughtful and even-handed. (Yes, there were paid endorsements urging us to vote “Yes” too.) It’s pretty much a no-holds battle between the manufacturers and the repair shops and their suppliers. The assertion of Vote “No” proponents that “many independent auto repair places are voting no” is undocumented. The “vote Yes” proponents list about 180 Massachusetts garages as sponsors of their effort. It seems to be true, however, that national suppliers and manufacturers of so-called “after” market” parts lead the effort, and provided most of the money. Virtually all of the money behind the “Vote No” effort comes from the car manufacturers. So at one level, it is a battle between the giants, and ultimately the whole issue may be resolved by the courts.
There are substantial safeguards in the law that make it less likely that hackers and other predators can misuse the data from the wireless system that is beamed from the car to the manufacturer and the dealers. It only will pertain to mechanical information and will not involve locational information. The “App” will be designed by the manufacturers and will be reviewed by the Massachusetts Attorney General. The car owner has to okay the garage owner’s use of the data.
The carmakers say even if the State votes “no” we will continue to have the right to repair under the measure passed in 2012. We won’t. A lot of things have been changing in the industry. TESLA won’t let you repair their cars, and their cars don’t even have the OBD-1 ports that mechanics use to access mechanical information.
The trend among manufacturers is to make their repair information proprietary. I talked with the owner of the American Body Shop in Leominster, and she said that they can’t repair late model BMWs and MiniCoopers because there is no usable data on their ports. The proponents of the “right to repair” say there is a need to “close the loophole” in the existing law.
Lu and I have an older car, and as long as our Toyota starts every morning and gets us where we want to go, the law has little impact on our daily lives. But without a “yes” vote, life will be harder for the small garage owners. Taking our car to one of the dealers is a much more expensive operation. We are happy to continue taking our car to Ernies. We voted “Yes.”