EDITORIAL: New Yorkers need right to repair

Manufacturers' monopoly on vehicle, computer repairs costs consumers money

Replacing the battery in your car used to be a simple thing.

You loosened the bolts with a wrench, pulled the wires away, lifted the old battery out and put in the new one.

In many cars these days, even that simple repair has to be done by a trained mechanic because removing the battery can interfere with the computers that operate your car and void the warranty.

You’ve got no choice but to take the vehicle in for service, even if you’re capable of doing the work yourself.

If you think it’s bad having to pay 50 bucks to a mechanic to install a battery, imagine how it feels to be a farmer.

Farmers rely on being able to fix their own vehicles to save themselves money. But that’s not possible on new farming vehicles that come  heavily laden with computer equipment.

Their option is either to pay big bucks to repair their vehicles or to purchase older models of tractors and vehicles that were built before all the fancy computer gizmos were added.

The issue is that many manufacturers of newer vehicles hold exclusive rights over information about vehicle operation systems that could allow someone to make the repairs themselves.

By intentionally restricting repairs of certain items to their own repair technicians or authorized repair shops, manufacturers have essentially created a monopoly for repair services. That then allows them to charge exorbitant repair prices to consumers.

Concerns over this have led to efforts across the country for “right to repair” laws that lift some of these restrictions. 

New York lawmakers are considering their own right to repair bills this year. 

One bill (A6589/S6033) would require that original vehicle equipment manufacturers make available to independent repair providers the same diagnostic and repair information, for no charge or for the same charge, and in the same format that manufacturers make available to their authorized repair providers. They also would have to make equipment and service parts available for reasonable terms.

A similar right to repair bill (A7416A/S6309) would apply to computer equipment such as smartphones.

This legislation would help save consumers money on repairs and allow smaller repair shops to do work now restricted exclusively to shops controlled or chosen by manufacturers.

This is important consumer legislation that lawmakers need to support.

Categories: Editorial, Opinion

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