From in-car navigation systems to voice-activated entertainment systems, today’s cars are becoming more advanced and computer-like. While much of this new auto technology is made to make our lives more convenient, it can actually become a source of headaches and stress when it comes time to take your car to the mechanic.
According to an article on MSNBC, some auto repair shops have to turn down jobs and refer customers to more costly auto dealer shops because they don’t have the money to purchase the thousands of dollars in special equipment needed to fix these advanced cars.
Computers and electronics control nearly every vehicle function from emissions down to the ignition keys, so minor problems are harder to diagnose and repair. According to the Right to Repair Coalition, this advanced technology gives car manufacturers opportunity to force car owners to limit the number of places they can obtain service for their vehicles to dealer repair shops.
Access to affordable repairs is the foundation of the Right to Repair Act, a bipartisan bill introduced by Rep. Edolphus Towns, D-N.Y., that would require automakers to provide the same service and information and tools to independent auto shops and consumers that dealership service centers receive. This law would ensure that vehicle owners have a variety of options to choose from when their vehicle needs repairs.
According to a study released by the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association, vehicle repairs at a car dealership cost an average of 34 percent more than at an independent repair shop, costing consumers an extra $11.7 billion each year.
However, automakers argue that the problem extends beyond cheaper repairs because they spend millions in research and development and are not willing to give away their intellectual property for free.
While the Right to Repair bill has been stalled in the House Committee since April, it already has 51 co-sponsors. However, it’s unclear when or if the committee will vote on it.
Do you have a new car with advanced computer technology? Are you finding yourself paying more for repairs?