The Car Repair Apocalypse Could Soon Be Upon Us

The widespread availability of independent car repair needs to be protected from software-based DRM.
The Car Repair Apocalypse Could Soon Be Upon Us
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The wide availability and ease of DIY and independent car repair—a touchstone of American culture—is being threatened by the softwareification of cars, according to independent repair professionals interviewed by the federal government. Part of this future can already be seen with Hertz’s major bet on Teslas as rental cars, which the company is rapidly selling off in part due to high Tesla repair costs.

A report published recently by the U.S. Government Accountability Office found that independent car repair is still widely available in the United States, but that there currently are very few laws protecting that availability, and that car manufacturers are increasingly moving toward a model where only dealers and authorized repair shops can do certain repairs. The report, called “Vehicle Repair: Information on Evolving Vehicle Technologies and Consumer Choice,” found that nine of the 14 independent repair shops interviewed “described limitations related to being able to access specific vehicle data” for the purposes of repair.

“One independent repair shop technician described problems using a third-party scan tool that provides basic diagnostic data but does not provide access to certain vehicle components, such as the tire pressure monitoring system,” the report reads. “The technician said this, and other data limitations, result in the shop needing to take some vehicles to dealerships to complete repairs.” 

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