We recently came across an article that described the actions that automobile manufacturers are taking to try and make it illegal to work on a vehicle that you purchased from them. You might be thinking to yourself “well I just take it to a shop to have it repaired anyways so how does this impact me?”. While that is likely going to be the case for a vast majority of people out there, working on cars is a means of relaxation or a beloved hobby for some. For us at CV Pros, it’s our way of life and how we make a living. If we are unable to work on new cars do to law, it would have an immense impact on the amount of vehicles we can work on and could result in the unfortunate fate of going out of business. There are many aspects of this idea that need to be taken into consideration from both sides of the wrench.
How can they stop me from working on my own car?
Cars of today are vastly different from those even 20 years ago. Today fuel injection is the norm and that requires computers. You probably love the electronic comforts of your car such as one touch windows, power memory seats, rain sensing wipers, and the efficiency that your engine is capable of producing, giving you more power and using less gas. These are all controlled through computers in your car. As are the various safety features in your vehicle. It’s not like you can simply bolt on a new intake system or even exhaust system without your car’s computer sensing that there is a difference. Often times when a physical engine part is changed on a vehicle that will impact the manner of the engine, the vehicles computer will sense it and store this information for the next technician to see. It gives them a better understanding of where a problem may have occurred. Today’s vehicles, even dating back to the early 2000’s, are in constant communication with their manufactures as far as what the computer is reading. This constant communication allows them to see if the computer was accessed and what changes (known as flashes) may have be introduced by a third party. This can easily void a new vehicles warranty and give the manufacturers’ a reason not to work on the vehicle.
Why is this so important to them?
Automotive manufacturers and even some farm equipment brands are arguing that working on your vehicle, which now requires advanced communication with the onboard computers, can pose potential safety problems. They feel that the untrained may inadvertently disable safety features of the vehicle during their quest for more power from the engine. One company even goes as far as to argue that if users are allowed to access the computers, they could turn their vehicle or even combine into a mobile station for pirating music. No, really, they said that. This is simply an excuse to make sure that each and every time a vehicle needs a repair that it goes back to the brand specific dealer so they can cash in on the repair dollars that are sometimes being given to independent repair shops, or are being saved by the weekend mechanic.
For gearheads like us, this is an invasion of our rights. We own the vehicle. We used our hard earned money to buy it so we could go where we like and when we like. If we wanted a vehicle that wasn’t our own and had no control over personalizing it, wouldn’t we just rent a car when we needed to? We hope this endeavor does not succeed, not just for the sake of our business, but for the sake of taking away the ability to make your vehicle reflect your personality and operate exactly how you want. If this goes through, then we’ll find our freedom in four-barrel carbs and a floor jack.