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AutoBlog: Now that GM, Chrysler are gov't owned, will "Right to Repair Act" pass?

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Filed under: Government/Legal, Technology

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Back in the day, when a car wasn't running right, a good mechanic could drive it and listen to the engine to narrow down where the problem was. They could go in and adjust or replace the carburetor jets, choke, points or some other mechanical piece, and if they knew what they were doing get it running right. In high school, this blogger learned how to balance the Zenith side draft carbs of a Triumph TR7 with a screw driver and an hunk of garden hose.

Today it's a whole different story. With everything on a modern car controlled by microchips, the only way to be sure what is making that warning light come on is to plug in a diagnostic tool and read out the codes. The problem is that auto manufacturers prefer to keep the magic code decrypters to themselves. While claiming it is for security and safety reasons, the reality is more likely related to profit.

However, with a significant chunk of the equity in Chrysler and General Motors now in the hands of the U.S. Government, the chances of passing a bill that would force automakers to reveal all of the diagnostic code information finally seem plausible. Lobbyists have been pushing to get various so-called "Right to Repair Act" legislation pushed through for at least eight years, and now they figure they have the best chance yet. The current bill that's up for consideration includes provisions that would mandate that automakers offer not only the trouble codes, but also any special tooling that's required (at "nondiscriminatory" pricing) as well as proper training.

What do you think, is the "Right to Repair Act" something Congress should get behind? Have your say in 'Comments.'

[source: Ward's Auto World | Image: Justin Sullivan/Getty]

Now that GM, Chrysler are gov't owned, will "Right to Repair Act" pass? originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 13 Oct 2009 13:29:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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I guess there are benefits to GM being owned by the Govt after all. I hope it passes.

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can't this info just be looked up on the net... and obd tools be bought ~$80.... this is stupid.. well. maybe not stupid, but prolly unneeded

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I guarantee you the manufacturers will find a way to get around this.

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can't this info just be looked up on the net... and obd tools be bought ~$80.... this is stupid.. well. maybe not stupid, but prolly unneeded

For 90% of the stuff you need, yes... however, for some stuff (Like the Bosch ABS computer on a '95 Caprice), there is NOTHING. Plus some of the CANBUS stuff is getting way beyond the point of a simple OBD tool. Not only that, but a lot of the fuel injection systems are very specialized and expensive software is needed to remap air/fuel. Add in 'black box' and emissions anti-tamper measures and a lot of companies want this stuff to stay obscure.

Hell, I've spend several hundred dollars on FSMs and they only cover '95 B, '99 G and '98 J body... the '04 W body manuals haven't been worth picking up yet... just so I can trace a wiring diagram or proper plastic nut torque for the blinker fluid canister.

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Imagine being able to reflash your PCM instead of having the dealer charger you $200 to do it....

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Hell, I've spend several hundred dollars on FSMs and they only cover '95 B, '99 G and '98 J body... the '04 W body manuals haven't been worth picking up yet... just so I can trace a wiring diagram or proper plastic nut torque for the blinker fluid canister.

I agree. Even Haynes the so called Bible of Automotive Engineering does not cover all the codes. However there is some respite, if you Google the code you may get answers; the local mechanic may not have the same luck.

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I agree. Even Haynes the so called Bible of Automotive Engineering does not cover all the codes. However there is some respite, if you Google the code you may get answers; the local mechanic may not have the same luck.

Exactly... the Google universe has limits... it only seems unlimited if your most involved query has one word, but if you are looking for repair information for, a late '70s CASE 350 Diesel Track Loader, you quickly fall off the edge of the Google universe. Yeah, I'm looking for such info, and have been for five years... there are some forums, but the pickings are slim.

I've been fortunate, as I can tune a Google query like a fine instrument (as many others here can), but I would give no such credit to the average mechanic... most of the mechanics I know barely can log in to the fantasy football websites.

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