Imagine you’re driving down the road and you hear a strange noise. You take your car to the mechanic and they tell you that they’re unable to diagnose the problem because their computer system is blocked from diagnosing the appropriate sensors of your vehicle’s manufacturer. Your only option is to take your vehicle to a dealership where their computer systems have access. The cost to diagnose and ultimately repair your vehicle is now triple what you would have otherwise paid because of the dealership’s monopoly on critical data. As we all know, modern vehicles are closer to computers with tires than what Henry Ford rolled off the assembly line. The need for technicians to properly run diagnostics and read all sensors is critical.
Unfortunately, the scenario above is now an all too common occurrence, but there’s good news – in some states, there’s a law called “Right to Repair” that protects consumers from being taken advantage of by car manufacturers.
What is Right to Repair?
Right to Repair laws guarantee consumers the legal right to have their vehicles diagnosed and repaired at any independent repair facility of their choice. In other words, car manufacturers can’t force you to go to their dealership for repairs – you can take your business wherever you want.
Why is this important? For one thing, it keeps prices down. When there’s only one place you can get your car diagnosed and repaired, they can charge whatever they want and you have no choice but to pay it. With Right to Repair laws in place, consumers have more bargaining power and can shop around for the best service and deal.
Another big reason why Right to Repair laws are important is because they promote competition. When there’s only one place you can get your car repaired, they have no incentive to provide good customer service or quality craftsmanship. But if there are several places competing for your business, they’re going to have to work hard to earn and keep your business.
The big manufacturers argue that they are attempting to protect consumer data by limiting the diagnostic readings of independent shops. However, this reasoning is nonsense in that the same data is available to any technician at a dealership, and it is ultimately the choice of the consumer where they service their vehicles. After all, we, the consumers, are making the car payments. Shouldn’t that mean that we own this data and have the right to choose where and how to make necessary repairs?
The next time your car needs repairs, make sure you take it to a shop that abides by Right to Repair laws. Not only will you save money, but you’ll also be supporting businesses that compete on quality and customer service – something we can all get behind.