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"Right To Repair" Bill Advances In Massachusetts

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the not-open-source-but-it's-a-step dept.

Government 478

Wannabe Code Monkey sends along an article from the Patriot Ledger about an effort in Massachusetts to pass a "Right to Repair" bill. "Since the advent of congressionally mandated computers in vehicles more than 15 years ago (for emissions), cars have evolved into complex machines that are no longer just mechanical. Computers now monitor and control most systems in the car from brakes to tire pressure and all the electronics and engine fluids... [and] car manufacturers continue to hold back on some of the information that your mechanic needs in order to properly repair your car and reset your codes and warning lights... Massachusetts is now poised to solve this problem and car-driving consumers should pay attention this fall when the Massachusetts Legislature takes up landmark legislation that would force manufacturers to respect the right of consumers to access their own repair information. The legislation, known as Right to Repair, is seen by car manufacturers as a threat to the lucrative service business in their dealerships and they are massing their lobbyists on Beacon Hill in an effort to defeat it."

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Yes! (2)

TheBilgeRat (1629569) | more than 5 years ago | (#29433177)

About durn time

Re:Yes! (5, Insightful)

Abreu (173023) | more than 5 years ago | (#29433281)

This is very important, because if Ford* needs to release the information needed to repair the Focus* to the state of Massachusetts, they will basically make it available everywhere in the world where Ford sells this car.

Similar to other US state laws regarding pollution or safe materials, this will affect us worldwide

* Just as an example

Re:Yes! (4, Insightful)

tkw954 (709413) | more than 5 years ago | (#29433525)

This is very important, because if Ford* needs to release the information needed to repair the Focus* to the state of Massachusetts, they will basically make it available everywhere in the world where Ford sells this car. Similar to other US state laws regarding pollution or safe materials, this will affect us worldwide

Or they'll add a state-specific encryption key needed to unlock the computer for repair work. And they'll only release the key for vehicles sold in Massachusetts.

Re:Yes! (3, Informative)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 5 years ago | (#29433657)

This is very important, because if Ford* needs to release the information needed to repair the Focus* to the state of Massachusetts, they will basically make it available everywhere in the world where Ford sells this car. Similar to other US state laws regarding pollution or safe materials, this will affect us worldwide

Or they'll add a state-specific encryption key needed to unlock the computer for repair work. And they'll only release the key for vehicles sold in Massachusetts.

That won't work. Currently, any mechanic can read the codes (there is an open standard for the chip that outputs the codes), the problem is that they don't publish what the codes mean (outside of the basic codes that are defined in the standard).

Re:Yes! (5, Informative)

tkw954 (709413) | more than 5 years ago | (#29433801)

You're right that any mechanic can read the legislated OBD-II codes. However, manufacturers are allowed to use proprietary codes or protocols for anything that isn't emissions related, and it wouldn't be too difficult to lock you out of everything else, if they really wanted to. Reading OBD-II trouble codes is only the tip of the iceberg of what you can do when you have full read and write access to the ECU.

Re:Yes! (3, Insightful)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 5 years ago | (#29433991)

You're right that any mechanic can read the legislated OBD-II codes. However, manufacturers are allowed to use proprietary codes or protocols for anything that isn't emissions related, and it wouldn't be too difficult to lock you out of everything else, if they really wanted to. Reading OBD-II trouble codes is only the tip of the iceberg of what you can do when you have full read and write access to the ECU.

That is the point of this law, they currently "lock you out" by not publishing what those codes mean. I'm pretty sure that what you are suggesting would violate either the current OBD-II legislation or this new law. Additionally, the problem with releasing the key only for cars sold in Massachusetts is that the manufacturer can only know what cars are sold new in Mass, this law would also cover cars sold used.
I find this business practice on the part of automobile manufacturers very offensive. On the other hand, I am very skeptical of additional government regulation. My suspicion is that the problem this law is designed to fix is one that was created by government regulation in the first place.

Re:Yes! (1)

rubi (910818) | more than 5 years ago | (#29433729)

This is very important, because if Ford* needs to release the information needed to repair the Focus* to the state of Massachusetts, they will basically make it available everywhere in the world where Ford sells this car. Similar to other US state laws regarding pollution or safe materials, this will affect us worldwide

Or they'll add a state-specific encryption key needed to unlock the computer for repair work. And they'll only release the key for vehicles sold in Massachusetts.

I think you mean "to repair shops located in MA". This would be a business opportunity for repair shops in MA!

Re:Yes! (1)

Thinboy00 (1190815) | more than 5 years ago | (#29433851)

This is very important, because if Ford* needs to release the information needed to repair the Focus* to the state of Massachusetts, they will basically make it available everywhere in the world where Ford sells this car.

Similar to other US state laws regarding pollution or safe materials, this will affect us worldwide

Or they'll add a state-specific encryption key needed to unlock the computer for repair work. And they'll only release the key for vehicles sold in Massachusetts.

I think you mean "to repair shops located in MA". This would be a business opportunity for repair shops in MA!

1) Submit fake application to get the code
2) Get the code
3) Leak it
4) (IANAL) They can't sue b/c it's legally not a trade secret or anything else
5) ???
6) Profit!

Re:Yes! (4, Interesting)

MrKaos (858439) | more than 5 years ago | (#29433771)

Or they'll add a state-specific encryption key needed to unlock the computer for repair work. And they'll only release the key for vehicles sold in Massachusetts.

I think I'd just replace the entire ems with the open source engine management system. [diyefi.org] This project has been around for some time, I'd sure like to put it into my car restoration.

Re:Yes! (3, Insightful)

Master Moose (1243274) | more than 5 years ago | (#29433347)

They will get around it. All it will take is for some car manufacturer to put in a EULA that you can not read until you have purchased the car. There will be no way to not accept this EULA. Starting the car to drive it back to the dealers will be seen as accepting all terms and conditions. If you were to install a new component to your vehicle for either repair or upgrade, your cars computer will assume that you are now a thief and the car will refuse to run.

Re:Yes! (5, Insightful)

NewbieProgrammerMan (558327) | more than 5 years ago | (#29433385)

People might accept that behavior for a $30 piece of software, but they will *not* accept it for a $18,000 car. I almost wish some car company would try it, but then they'd crash in flames and we'd have to bail them out again.

Re:Yes! (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#29433403)

EULAs though aren't usually legally enforceable. In fact, I hope they do include them to be struck down by various courts leading to the elimination of them for software too.

Re:Yes! (1)

Thinboy00 (1190815) | more than 5 years ago | (#29433881)

EULAs though aren't usually legally enforceable. In fact, I hope they do include them to be struck down by various courts leading to the elimination of them for software too.

IANAL
... that's a little hopeful. But EULAs in which you can't read before buying and which you cannot refuse are not worth the paper (or whatever) they're printed (or whatever) on.

Re:Yes! (5, Insightful)

InsertWittyNameHere (1438813) | more than 5 years ago | (#29433905)

Furthermore the vehicle will only come with one Vehicle Access License (VAL) for the purchaser (primary driver). Additional VALs must be purchased for each additional driver. VALs come in two forms: Standard for occasional drivers and Enterprise for secondary drivers. These licenses cannot be transferred from one vehicle to another unless you subscribe to the Vehicle Assurance program.

Re:Yes! (5, Interesting)

onionman (975962) | more than 5 years ago | (#29433429)

Yes!!!! It is about damn time. I hope the rest of the country will follow suit.

My local Honda Dealership wanted over $350 to "fix" a busted key (the electronics in it were fine, but the metal shaft was bent) by selling me all new electronic components inside the car's ignition system as well as matching "new" keys. I thought that was outrageous, so I took it to a local mechanic who told me that he wasn't allowed to order the parts... but he took one look at the key and said, "take that to a smart locksmith," and then he recommended one. I followed his advice, and the locksmith fixed my key in less than five minutes FOR FREE.

That's one more reason why I don't trust dealership service.

Re:Yes! (0, Troll)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 5 years ago | (#29433859)

Ford's a damn commie company for putting a computer in my car. Next, they're gonna want to take away my guns.

Re:Yes! (4, Funny)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 5 years ago | (#29433945)

And I'm guessing the fix involved putting the key on a hard, flat surface and hitting it with a hammer....

Unexpected (2)

stagg (1606187) | more than 5 years ago | (#29433189)

That's incredible. I can't believe they'd actually pass that kind of legislation, but it's some of the more promising news I've heard in a while. Too bad it isn't national. (or international) Most people aren't going to utilize that information anyway, but the companies definitely shouldn't be blocking those who would!

Re:Unexpected (1)

stagg (1606187) | more than 5 years ago | (#29433229)

Actually after some consideration, it may indeed gain widespread popularity. Why wouldn't mechanics want access to that? Unless they were intimidated by the changing technology, but I'd expect them to be a minority.

Re:Unexpected (2, Insightful)

digitalunity (19107) | more than 5 years ago | (#29433359)

My impression was that most repair shops are already equipped to deal with OBD-II cars, which would cover engine, emissions and transmission error codes. There are plenty of manufacturer specific codes, but as far as I know, the majority of them are already publicly available.

I haven't read the article yet. Does this just legislatively require manufacturers to release what is already known? Or does this go beyond OBD-II stuff?

Re:OBD-II, WTF's that? (-1, Flamebait)

uassholes (1179143) | more than 5 years ago | (#29433545)

-1; not informative

Re:OBD-II, WTF's that? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29433663)

Onboard Diagnostics... its a port & standard to the control electronics on the car; the OBD2 port is where the various programming tools are plugged in to see what's going on in the engine. OBD2 devices are the sorts of things that let you hook up a wifi transmitter to the port and watch your tachometer on your iPhone.

The "gotcha" is that each vehicle (and sometimes, each engineering release) has to be programmed with manufacturer specific codes, most of what a consumer sees is just read-only data. If you reflash your engine controller, all of a sudden your car may not meet emissions requirements and the manufacturers are then likely to be held liable for the act committed by the purchaser (who will, of course, utter the famous phrase "I didn't change anything.") This would be a huge boon to trial attorneys everywhere and a major headache for the manufacturers.

Unfortunately, no one has yet built a device that can assert "you are too stupid to operate this vehicle." It's unlikely it would sell well anyway.

Re:OBD-II, WTF's that? (-1, Troll)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 5 years ago | (#29433865)

I see why you posted AC, you are so full of shit that it's coming out your ears

Re:Unexpected (1)

stagg (1606187) | more than 5 years ago | (#29433875)

Like a lot of news articles, it's got no serious details in it. Closest it says is: "Yet, despite the investment of thousands of dollars in diagnostic equipment, computers and training by independent service garages, car manufacturers continue to hold back on some of the information that your mechanic needs in order to properly repair your car and reset your codes and warning lights. "

What? Letting people repair their own cars?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29433193)

But that's communism! ...er, socialism! ...or whatever the term that is the most fashionable to complain about nowadays.

Re:What? Letting people repair their own cars?! (1, Insightful)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 5 years ago | (#29433409)

It's not quite socialism, but if you think it's the job of the government to pass legislation to guarantee your "right" to information that enables you to repair your car, then I do have a very fundamental disagreement with you about what the government is for. What about coffee makers? Mine just broke down and I googled all over the place and I can't find ANY information on how to diagnose what is wrong with it! Should I write to my congressman and demand a law for the "right to repair" coffee makers?

Re:What? Letting people repair their own cars?! (4, Funny)

BitHive (578094) | more than 5 years ago | (#29433501)

A thousand times, yes. People seem to forget the extent to which industry (yes, *capitalist industry*) deserves credit for so many of the modern luxuries they enjoy. We should be happy enough that there are people willing to work hard enough to create and run companies like GM and Ford before we gang up and start punishing them for trying to make a buck. Consumer protections and safety standards are just marketing terms for the real agenda: the expansion of government regulation until you can't even build a house or open a theme park without getting a bureaucratic stamp of approval.

Re:What? Letting people repair their own cars?! (1)

lemur666 (313121) | more than 5 years ago | (#29433515)

Should I write to my congressman and demand a law for the "right to repair" coffee makers?

Since you ask... Yes, you should.

Quite Simply (1)

gbutler69 (910166) | more than 5 years ago | (#29433551)

Yes!

Re:What? Letting people repair their own cars?! (2, Interesting)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 5 years ago | (#29433629)

That's a poor analogy.

It's not just that you can't find any information on how to repair it, you can't take it to the corner fix-it guy either because he can't decipher the error codes. You have to take it to a Certified Mr. Coffee Specialist who will charge you 75% the cost of the coffee maker to fix it and not tell you how he did it either.

You SHOULD be able to fix your own coffee maker and not be forced by some DRM lock-in to take it to this specific certified repairman.

Re:What? Letting people repair their own cars?! (1)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 5 years ago | (#29433949)

It's not just that you can't find any information on how to repair it, you can't take it to the corner fix-it guy either because he can't decipher the error codes. You have to take it to a Certified Mr. Coffee Specialist who will charge you 75% the cost of the coffee maker to fix it and not tell you how he did it either.

A coffee maker's ability to be repaired by the user (or to be repaired by a corner fix-it guy, or to be repaired at all) is just one of the characteristics of that coffee maker. I wouldn't want a law passed that requires it to be easy (or even possible) to repair in the same way that I wouldn't want a law passed that requires it to be easy to use, heats the coffee to the optimal temperature, or looks good in my kitchen. Free market is a LOT better at creating improvements in coffee maker products than government legislation.

How powerful are car computers? (-1, Offtopic)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 5 years ago | (#29433195)

Can I overclox0r them and play Crysis?

Re:How powerful are car computers? (1)

digitalunity (19107) | more than 5 years ago | (#29433389)

You'd have better luck hacking the in-dash entertainment system. Most auto powertrain control modules are fairly anemic by computing standards.

Why Would Anyone Want To Play Crysis? (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29433401)

The game sucks.

The only people dumb enough to play Crysis are the idiot who are retarded enough to call their computers 'rigs'.

Re:How powerful are car computers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29433747)

More like Car-ysis, amirite?

Hey Big Auto (5, Insightful)

rsborg (111459) | more than 5 years ago | (#29433221)

Listen, we bailed your asses out.
Time you started listening to OUR needs.

- The Taxpayers

p.s., next time we'll just outsource your C-level jobs to India and China and keep the factory workers here.

Re:Hey Big Auto (4, Insightful)

brian0918 (638904) | more than 5 years ago | (#29433701)

I didn't want to bail them out, I don't want their cars, and I don't want my freedoms disgraced further with the ridiculous notion that they now owe us something.

- An American Taxpayer

Re:Hey Big Auto (4, Insightful)

selven (1556643) | more than 5 years ago | (#29433787)

We own part of these companies now. Might as well salvage something out of this disaster and use our control.

Priorities? (2, Insightful)

Burning1 (204959) | more than 5 years ago | (#29433971)

I like how more people are up in arms about financial bailouts and 'socialized medicine' than NSA wiretapping, denial of Habius Corpus, 'Free Speach Zones' and what not.

We invested in them. They do owe us something.

Re:Hey Big Auto (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29433885)

We didn't get any bailout, and while we profited from the CARS program, we didn't ask for it either. If you want to punish GM and Chrysler, fine by us, but can you try to be a little more selective about how you do it?

- Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Ford, BMW, Daimler, VW-Audi, Porsche, et al.

But non-dealer mechanics suck (5, Interesting)

greymond (539980) | more than 5 years ago | (#29433249)

I kid, some of the best mechanics I've had work on my previous cars (one was a bmw z3) would do all the changes then stop by the dealership for me to have the computer reset. Going to the dealership itself has always been a price gouge - $400 for an oil change? Go fuck yourself in the pee whole with that oil.

Seriously though, I think this type of law, allowing all mechanics access to the information and technical data on the cars they are certified to fix is a good idea and should be a federal law and not just up to some states to follow.

Re:But non-dealer mechanics suck (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29433373)

No need to waste time going to the stealership to reset your lights. On BMW's you can buy a little tool to reset the computer for oil changes (also Inspection 1, 2, check engine light, etc). Handy little tool and simple to use, you could do it yourself even with no mechanical skill other than being able to unscrew a large cap under the hood.

Dealerships make more money off their service departments than the cars they sell. What a racket... Sleazy scumsuckers really.

Re:But non-dealer mechanics suck (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29433867)

The issue isn't even the gouging as much as the INCOMPETENT MECHANICS fucking up more things.

Seriously the number of people I've heard horror stories from after going to a dealership is ridiculous. That's not to say all dealership mechanics are bad, just like you can't say all (or even most) independents are good, but there's enough out there to give both ends of the repair industry a bad reputation. Worse when you payed out the ass for 'certified mechanics' to begin with.

What?! Being allowed to repair your own car?!?!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29433261)

But that's communism! . . . Er, socialism! . . . Or whatever the term is that is the most fashionable to complain about nowadays.

Re:What?! Being allowed to repair your own car?!?! (2, Funny)

Mike Buddha (10734) | more than 5 years ago | (#29433569)

. . . Or whatever the term is that is the most fashionable to complain about nowadays.

Neocon

DIY (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29433325)

Fix it yourself its the geeky thing to do.

FAILZORS? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29433335)

Java IRC client website Third, you I won't bore you alike to reap Users With Large elected, we ttok Dying' crowd - and help us!

Do the same to Microsoft (5, Insightful)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 5 years ago | (#29433349)

You might wonder what I mean, so here's my take:

If I have a corrupt Microsoft Office document, I should be allowed access to its "closed" file format in order to repair the document.

How about that?

Re:Do the same to Microsoft (5, Funny)

Saija (1114681) | more than 5 years ago | (#29433579)

a Microsoft analogy to a car article? Bravo Sir, you're unique!

Re:Do the same to Microsoft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29433623)

Car analogy please

Re:Do the same to Microsoft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29433647)

And you'll get that right after a lot of shareware authors lobby state legislature to have MS open the document format so that their corrupt-file repair tools will work as well as the manufacturer's.

See, it took action - not just whining on Slashdot.

Re:Do the same to Microsoft (1)

MrKaos (858439) | more than 5 years ago | (#29433743)

If I have a corrupt Microsoft Office document, I should be allowed access to its "closed" file format in order to repair the document.

I hope the auto manufacturers don't clue onto the idea of welding the bonnet shut.

Re:Do the same to Microsoft (1)

turbidostato (878842) | more than 5 years ago | (#29433873)

"How about that?"
In Europe is perfectly legal to reverse engineer a program for compatibility or maintenance purpouses so at least you can try. Of course if should be mandatory to have access to developer's data so this becomes a real right instead of a cat against mouse game.

Re:Do the same to Microsoft (1)

s73v3r (963317) | more than 5 years ago | (#29434017)

Technically in the US, its legal to reverse engineer a lot of things. Its just illegal to distribute the information and tools necessary to reverse engineer and make use of something.

That's no right (1)

Dukenukemx (1342047) | more than 5 years ago | (#29433351)

What car manufacturers actually prevent you from repairing your car? I need a freaking list, so I know who to black list.

Re:That's no right (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29433445)

Every single American car company, and I suspect most other ones as well.

Re:That's no right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29433459)

It's for the computer borris .
_+_+

Re:That's no right (2, Interesting)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 5 years ago | (#29433469)

All of them.

Unless you know of a car manufacturer who publishes all their error codes, uses a common consumer standard cord (think USB) to connect to the car's computer, and makes software (or at least an API) available to read and clear that information. Although the law doesn't go that far, it is that kind of thing that the law is moving towards.

Re:That's no right (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 5 years ago | (#29433893)

uses a common consumer standard cord (think USB) to connect to the car's computer

All manufacturers already do this: it's called OBD-II. They have a standard connector on the dash to connect an OBD-II reader to (you can buy them at the auto parts store), and all the powertrain error codes are standardized. Every manufacturer has been required to do this since 1996 by Federal law.

The only problem is that some of the codes are manufacturer-specific and not published.

Re:That's no right (5, Informative)

mikael (484) | more than 5 years ago | (#29433611)

In the article, it mentions that the "Right to Repair" relates to your right to choose who repairs your car (yourself, your local garage vs. the official car company dealer).

Because cars have so many control units (eg. the Engine Control Unit [2carpros.com] ), specialized (and expensive) dealers are given advanced scanners which have full access to all the computer systems, and have the ability to clear any internal firmware fault bits which make fault lights remain on even after the car has been repaired. Other non-dealer garages don't have access to this information. They may be able to repair a broken headlight, but the computer system won't turn the fault light off, and might even refuse to allow the ignition to start.

Some car companies were using DRM legislation to prevent owners from altering/checking/viewing the state of the system controller.

Re:That's no right (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 5 years ago | (#29433961)

Some car companies were using DRM legislation to prevent owners from altering/checking/viewing the state of the system controller.

Which ones? Not trying to be annoying, but you should post this information (including citation if you have it) so anyone here in the market for a new car can make a better decision.

Because cars have so many control units (eg. the Engine Control Unit), specialized (and expensive) dealers are given advanced scanners which have full access to all the computer systems, and have the ability to clear any internal firmware fault bits which make fault lights remain on even after the car has been repaired. ... They may be able to repair a broken headlight, but the computer system won't turn the fault light off, and might even refuse to allow the ignition to start.

I don't know how the new ones are, but my wife's 2000 Acura Integra doesn't have any nonsense like this (the 2001 model is identical, but that was the last year the car was made). It does have an OBD-II port of course, but I haven't found anything I couldn't do with an SPX code reader from AutoZone. I even rebuilt the engine on this car myself (before I had the code reader), and never had any trouble requiring "advanced scanners".

I wonder if a lot of this silliness is only found on expensive luxury models like BMWs and Cadillacs. I'll bet your run-of-the-mill Kia or Hyundai doesn't have anything like this, even now.

Re:That's no right (1)

waterm (261542) | more than 5 years ago | (#29434005)

A couple of things:

1. If an independent shop clears a diagnostic code using his generic tools but the code is "still there," it is likely that the condition causing the diagnostic to fail is "still there." Corollary: just because the code disappears for the meantime doesn't mean it is gone for good, the diagnostic may not have had a chance to run since the clear.

2. ECUs use security (DRM is not really the right term) to protect certain functions pertaining to emissions, safety, performance, etc. It is in their best interest to keep a lock and key on this stuff for legal and compliance reasons.

Lets see here... (5, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#29433363)

Why would anyone oppose this? Lets see here our tax money has (without a popular vote even) bailed out most US auto makers, made it a crime to really reverse engineer computer systems in general, and has supported various pro-auto maker legislation. If they are going to take -our- tax money, and if the government insists on criminalizing reverse engineering and modification of cars, the only sane thing is that they must release documentation allowing everyone to do repairs themselves. Don't like it? Don't take our tax money, and lobby congress with all your $$$ to repeal various forms of legislation making it hard to reverse engineer things legally.

Re:Lets see here... (1)

jfengel (409917) | more than 5 years ago | (#29433641)

Why would anyone oppose this?

It's not completely insane to oppose it on "trade secrets" grounds. They're allowed to keep manufacturing details private to keep competitors from stealing their ideas. If you don't like it, they'd say, go buy yourself a car from somebody else. And if you force us to do this, who's coming after your company to disclose it's trade secrets next?

I don't know how defensible that argument is, but it's the sort of thing that a lobbyist could arm a legislator with, after greasing his palm.

If all else fails, they can whip up a nice flurry of outrage by calling it "socialism". They'll have people furious at companies for "sharing the wealth" of such information as right size of windshield wiper replacements.

Re:Lets see here... (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#29433761)

I would agree, but the fact remains that in general we've already paid for it via bailouts. We didn't exactly have a choice (we meaning the average American, it was never put to a popular vote, not congress who could have rejected it) and its unfeasible to give away cars (requires too many raw materials). The lobbyists could have won if the auto industries didn't screw up so badly and "require" a bailout.

Re:Lets see here... (1)

brian0918 (638904) | more than 5 years ago | (#29433745)

Don't like it? Don't take our tax money

You seem to be confused about what constitutes "taking money". You may want to trace the path of the money, and observe where it was taken and what it was done with it. You'll realize the force occurred with the government - taking the money, and giving it to a private entity.

So what you're saying is... (4, Insightful)

nilbog (732352) | more than 5 years ago | (#29433411)

So essentially the government is paying auto manufacturers to send lobbyists back to washington to lobby on behalf of the auto manufacturers which Washington actually owns?

Re:So what you're saying is... (1)

NoYob (1630681) | more than 5 years ago | (#29433559)

So essentially the government is paying auto manufacturers to send lobbyists back to washington to lobby on behalf of the auto manufacturers which Washington actually owns?

GM and Chrysler are partially owned by the US Government aka us. They were split up between the unions, bondholders, and the Government [bloomberg.com] . As you can see from the Bloomberg article, the percentages are still in the air for GM and I assume for Chrysler too. Chrysler I find really disgusting considering it's the second time that that shit company has been bailed out. It needs to die. The same for GM.

You just know that they'll continue with their crap and it'll get worse because they pretty much have a Government mandate to do it. They will produce crap and with the whole warranty thing - no thank you! I'll buy Japanese. Any bailout money that came out of my taxes I consider to be a sunk cost and it's gone forever. I'll buy Japanese next time.

While they are at it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29433423)

Force computer manufacturers to supply clean copies of Windows so you can reload your system without the crap

Ron Paul (5, Funny)

BitHive (578094) | more than 5 years ago | (#29433435)

This isn't fair to the automaker's shareholders, the government is infringing on their right to receive a return on their investment as determined by the objective free market. Forcing them to give up their intellectual property based on some absurd notion of repair rights (good luck finding that in the constitution) is just another form of wealth redistribution.

Re:Ron Paul (2, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#29433495)

That would work... But we don't have a free market. Lets see here, oh you mean that we as the taxpayers have -paid- with our tax dollars to bail out various failing auto companies? I don't call that the free market. I call that wealth redistribution. Would you pay with your taxes for a new bridge and then accept not being able to drive across it for no reason? Taxpayers paid for these companies, it is not feasible with the current technology to hand out free cars because the raw materials cost money. However, source code and repair documentation costs nothing. It is the very least they could do after we were forced to give up our hard earned money to support an industry without the financial sense to balance its finances.

Re:Ron Paul (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29433555)

That would work... But we don't have a free market.

The joke, your head, etc.

Re:Ron Paul (0, Troll)

BitHive (578094) | more than 5 years ago | (#29433597)

As a Ron Paul troll, my only comeback is that I shouldn't have to pay taxes, therefore I can ignore most of your argument.

Re:Ron Paul (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29433853)

Herp Derp.

Re:Ron Paul (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29433681)

The problem is there is legislation that makes it very very hard to reverse engineer the systems and repair them.

Re:Ron Paul (1)

Felix Da Rat (93827) | more than 5 years ago | (#29433817)

Correct Sir!

Now of course, I do not have to do business with a car company that will not allow me to fix my own car. I can, instead choose to support any company that provides such information as necessary. Or I can search for a brilliant mechanic, computer tech, and electrical engineer who will work together to fix my car and we can open our own business. Or I can buy a car with no computer interfaces at all that I can repair with little more than a hammer. Of course such a car as in the last example would probably fail the state mandated emissions standards - boo state!

Let me give a computer analogy. I can buy Microsoft Office, knowing that I have to deal with their document formats as is. Or I can use OpenOffice.org, and if I really want, dig in and make changes as I want. Or I can dedicate my own money, hire people, and build our own document software that works with all the formats out there. Or I can write my own document editor from scratch, and be happy with it - of course, no one else may be able to do anything with the .foo documents I create.

All of these are my rights, and I can choose any of them that I want to. I choose however to support OpenOffice.org, and suggest to everyone that I meet that they do so as well, because OO.o makes my life easier and costs me little. Will it make them bigger than Microsoft? Who knows? But it does mean that Microsoft has lost a paying customer and should look at why. Same goes for auto-makers. That is the Open Market ideal. Huzza!

Might kill non-sense like this (0)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 5 years ago | (#29433485)

It was news almost five years ago on Slashdot [slashdot.org] , but since then intelligent fasteners [industrysearch.com.au] have been searching for a way to go mainstream. Regular tools won't work -- and as a bonus, they can remotely disassemble your car. Past due on that insurance premium? Zap. Thud. It's even worse when you consider that cars are engineered to fail after a certain number of miles -- certain japanese manufacturers (isuzu) are known to fall apart very quickly after certain mileage limits are reached. It's not enough that we are allowed to repair our own vehicles -- there needs to be standards on a vehicle's lifespan.

If we're all about this whole greenie thing now, wouldn't it make sense to start mandating vehicles that are renewable and not just the energy that powers them?

Re:Might kill non-sense like this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29433537)

Please can we see some sources for this "vehicles fall apart after mileage limit" conspiracy? If my van falls apart after 100,000 miles, I'm switching to another make.

This is Massachusetts, folks (1)

russlar (1122455) | more than 5 years ago | (#29433505)

Expect it to be state mandated, state regulated, and cost an arm and a leg.

Re:This is Massachusetts, folks (4, Funny)

snsh (968808) | more than 5 years ago | (#29433603)

The Obama/Kennedy socialists are trying to take us one step closer to government-managed car-care.

Re:This is Massachusetts, folks (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29433967)

You're a fuckwit who has it so backwards, it's inconceivable to clear it up for you.

I tried to think of a car analogy... (4, Funny)

MrKaos (858439) | more than 5 years ago | (#29433553)

and found myself in an infinite loop...

help

Ctrl-C (1)

rockNme2349 (1414329) | more than 5 years ago | (#29433751)

It's the equivalent of pulling the key out of the ignition.

Re:I tried to think of a car analogy... (1)

Sta7ic (819090) | more than 5 years ago | (#29433891)

Try popping the clutch, and/or shifting into reverse. You'll eventually retread ground you've already covered, or at least you'll just be rolling.

OBD - On-Board Diagnostics (2, Informative)

thesandbender (911391) | more than 5 years ago | (#29433557)

There already is a government mandated standard for getting access to engine information. It's called OBD [wikipedia.org] and you read codes off with a $100 reader. Your local AutoZone, etc. will usually even let you borrow a reader if you need to.

OBD defines a set of specific codes for specific errors or measurements. It also allows manufacturers to define their own codes and measurements. I don't know of single vehicle whose manufacturer specific codes are not publicly available. Okay, you may have to pull out a book or look it up online (e.g. here is the list of codes for may BMW E46 3-series [e46fanatics.com] ) but it's out there and it's an amazing thing. The newer cars will even give you details like your exact fuel/air mixture ... in real-time. 9 times out of 10 the code pulled off the reader will tell me exactly what's wrong my car.

It amazes me how many hobbyist and even professional mechanics complain about this. The tools are there, and cheap, just learn how to use them.

Re:OBD - On-Board Diagnostics (1)

BigDish (636009) | more than 5 years ago | (#29433727)

OBDII has a very limited code set - primarily related to emissions. When my car got "Airbag error 15" OBD2 did not help, nor was it publically documented what error 15 was, as this is not an emissions-related issue.

The tools are there and cheap for certain problems, and expensive (thousands of dollars) for the complete suite.

Re:OBD - On-Board Diagnostics (1)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 5 years ago | (#29433769)

"There already is a government mandated standard for getting access to engine information. It's called OBD and you read codes off with a $100 reader. Your local AutoZone, etc. will usually even let you borrow a reader if you need to. "

AutoZone no longer lends out code reader, at least here in CA.

Seems overreach to me. I sympathize with mechanics, but people still are buying German cars despite expensive/difficult maintenance.

Re:OBD - On-Board Diagnostics (1)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 5 years ago | (#29433813)

The funny thing is that just this week I just had to look at OBD codes on my car. I used this as an excuse to by a $80 code reader. The code that came up basically said "Misfire on Cylinder #4". Now as someone who does somewhat about how cars work, but is not a mechanic I sat there wondering what the hell was actually wrong with car.

Without the experience to understand what those codes imply I am still in the dark as to what the problem actually is.

So in the end I *still* ended up taking it in to be fixed as I don't have time to sit around analyzing my cars faults when I have paid work I could be doing.

And that it is the quandary behind any DIY repairs of anything - is your time worth $0 per hour, or can you leverage your money earning capacity and pay a professional (with lots of experience) to quickly track down your problem?>/p>

Re:OBD - On-Board Diagnostics (1)

stuff and such (980278) | more than 5 years ago | (#29434023)

Not 0$/hour, you need to compare "can I do this cheaper myself than paying someone else?" Parts are cheap, labor is expensive. There are many of us who can do the the work. The whole point of knowing these codes is to quickly track down the problem. Also, there are more than a few of us who work on our cars for fun.

Re:OBD - On-Board Diagnostics (5, Informative)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 5 years ago | (#29433839)

There already is a government mandated standard for getting access to engine information. It's called OBD [wikipedia.org] and you read codes off with a $100 reader. Your local AutoZone, etc. will usually even let you borrow a reader if you need to. OBD defines a set of specific codes for specific errors or measurements. It also allows manufacturers to define their own codes and measurements. I don't know of single vehicle whose manufacturer specific codes are not publicly available. Okay, you may have to pull out a book or look it up online (e.g. here is the list of codes for may BMW E46 3-series [e46fanatics.com] ) but it's out there and it's an amazing thing. The newer cars will even give you details like your exact fuel/air mixture ... in real-time. 9 times out of 10 the code pulled off the reader will tell me exactly what's wrong my car. It amazes me how many hobbyist and even professional mechanics complain about this. The tools are there, and cheap, just learn how to use them.

I went to that link, there were an awful lot of "UNKNOWN CODE" listed. I stopped skimming between 500 and 600 and found over 70 "UNKNOWN CODE" listings in that. Those "UNKNOWN CODE" listings are what this law is about. Those aren't unused codes, they are codes that BMW considers trade secrets and that are only published to mechanics working for BMW dealerships (other car manufacturers have similar codes).

Re:OBD - On-Board Diagnostics (1)

Neanderthal Ninny (1153369) | more than 5 years ago | (#29433987)

Correct. All manufactures agree to most emission and basic engine function code standards to satisfy local. state & federal emissions testing but for other functions all bets are off.
I found that out when my car anti-lock brake processor module started to fail showed the idiot light on the dash. I plugged in my ODBII reader and it showed no fault codes. I contacted the 3rd party part outlet that I buy parts from said that most consumer bought ODBII readers can't read the those codes coming from that subsystem and said there are professional ODBII readers, which can cost thousands, that can read those codes as long they have the special codes from the manufacture. Nevertheless, I bought the anti-lock processor module and the anti-lock brake system works normally now.
I wish that people that own consumer version of ODBII readers can obtain the manufactures unique codes for an reasonable price so people that technically inclined could fix their own cars when they wish.

Leaked TI Calc keys (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29433667)

Leaked TI Calc keys,

http://pastebin.com/f5a8f6245

Universal, open-hardware car CPU (4, Interesting)

MoonRabbit (596371) | more than 5 years ago | (#29433825)

It's B. S. that every single model of car has a different computer. $700 for a used 93 Toyota ECM that consists of maybe $15 worth of parts? Make a single, universal cpu that can be programmed for whatever car it's going in. Then I can go to the junkyard, get a box out of a wrecked Chrysler, have it reprogrammed at the dealer, and stick it in my Toyota. They can make their software proprietary, I don't care. Make the hardware open. Imagine the state tech would be in if every computer manufacturer made its own cpu, motherboard, graphic processor, interface protocols, operating system and software, and they were all non-interchangeable between models. USB? Which flavor? The protocols would all be different: If you bought a flash drive to fit in a Dell laptop, it wouldn't work in a Dell desktop or any other model of Dell laptop, or anyone else's. Forget about any kind of networking. Software? You only get what the manufacturer loads on the machine. No upgrades, no third-party software. Oh, and if you buy a new machine, the software will all be different. Asinine? Yes. Unlike auto makers, tech manufacturers realized long ago that keeping every single thing proprietary wasn't a good business model. If nothing else, imagine the cost savings to manufacturers if they adopted a universal hardware architecture.

Re:Universal, open-hardware car CPU (1)

MrKaos (858439) | more than 5 years ago | (#29433903)

Make the hardware open.

I did put the link in elsewhere, but this might be what you are looking for. [diyefi.org]

Legislation not the answer (2, Insightful)

waterm (261542) | more than 5 years ago | (#29433843)

The REAL problem isn't that the car repair info is hard to find, the problem is that every manufacturer has a different methodology and toolset to service vehicles. How can an independent shop be expected to have all of the hardware/software/expertise to diagnose vehicles? They can't!

What is really needed is improved efforts on commonizing service approaches. Before that can be done however, the underlying components need to fall in line. This is happening with the roll out of common communication busses (ie CAN), diagnostic communication services (iso-14229), and open Electronic Control Unit platforms (ie: AUTOSAR).

The OEMs are already taking steps that will facilitate easier service and support. It is in their best interests to do so because it lowers their cost to do business. Legislation won't likely speed that up process but probably hinder it by distracting their limited resources.

Volvo especially blows in this department (5, Informative)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 5 years ago | (#29433871)

Do NOT buy a Volvo newer than '06 if you care about this sort of stuff. Any Volvo after about MY2006 requires something called "VIDA", which is the worst kind of crippled software. First, you need a several-thousand-dollar interface box. Second, the software requires a LIVE INTERNET CONNECTION. Cars after 2000 or so and before 2006 require "VADIS" and the same $$$$$ interface box.

Get a load of this: every module in the car (and there are a dozen plus) requires firmware or "coding". That coding is VIN specific, and the software is ENCRYPTED TO YOUR SPECIFIC CAR by Volvo before it is transmitted to you (the reason a live connection is required.) Further, the download requires a payment to Volvo! Just the ability to use VIDA is subscription based, and you pay separately for diagnostic abilities, wiring charts, and technical information. As in, you have to pay for each one if you want it- it's not a package.

On the Audi/VW side, there is an awesome program called VAG-COM which allows you to view all sorts of parameters, adjust values, read diagnostic codes, etc...almost EVERYTHING that can possibly be accessed or tweaked. Alarm motion sensor too sensitive? Tweak it. Want to be able to roll up your windows from the keyfob? Done. Want to enable one-touch-up on a window? Done. Want to install euro-code taillights with yellow turn signals? Done. Want to let your fog lights stay on with your highbeams, or run with the headlights off? Done and done. Costs a few hundred dollars, and that includes the adapter. You can buy the factory repair manual, and once you have, it's yours, and you can diagnose and repair many things yourself, replace components, etc.

On the Volvo side...guess what? VIDA required. "What about ODB2?" you say? Well, ODB2 only encompasses the most basic live engine information and diagnostic codes. If you want anything actually useful, you need to know the custom ODB2 data fields (very similar to how SNMP is an open standard, but nearly worthless without vendor OIDs.)

Truly, madly blows. There are a bunch of parameters that can be changed on my car, but they can only be done by the dealer, and they're guaranteed to charge for it. Nevermind that the whole car is networked with CAN-BUS and many of the mid-2000's models have huge problems with module failures, network bus problems, etc. Oh, and the best part: if a software update fucks up something, they can't roll it back. Volvo didn't design the systems to allow for going back a firmware revision. You can only install NEWER versions!

God bless the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29433955)

Despite all the corruption, traffic, and other crap we have to deal with, Massachusetts has some of the best consumer and employee protection laws in the country. They've saved me and my customers thousands of dollars that would have otherwise been lost to my former employer (a retail electronics chain with the initials R.S.).

Examples:

  • Employers must pay employees for accumulated vacation time upon termination of any kind.
  • Merchants must honor the lowest price marked on the product, regardless of the expiration date or the price in "the computer"
  • All used cars must pass the state safety and emissions inspection within 30 days of being sold, if the car fails to pass this inspection the seller must either take the car back and refund the buyer, or pay for the work needed to bring the car up to code.
  • Gift certificates must be valid for at least seven years, and are valid indefinitely of the expiration date isn't specified on the card or the receipt. Also, once 10% or less of the value is remaining, the merchant must offer the option to refund the rest in cash

Also Marijuana is decriminalized in amounts up to one ounce for personal possession, gay marriage is legal, and your car is considered part of your home and is given the same 4th amendment protections. Sometimes it's nice being a Masshole (when I'm not stuck in traffic).

Potential side-effects (2, Interesting)

DrMrLordX (559371) | more than 5 years ago | (#29433975)

Various manufacturers have been making it difficult, if not impossible, to correct problems with ECUs/ECMs aside from doing simple stuff such as restarting them or forcing them to retrain/relearn. That is to say, if you're unlucky enough to have a car that is not beloved by hordes of tuners/ricers/etc., then no 3rd party will show the interest in figuring out how to reprogram your ECU/ECM to give it a proper tune. The car I own (Saturn Ion 1, 2004, Sedan) has an ECU that is widely unsupported by 3rd-party tuning apps, for example. If there's something wrong with any of the sensors or the ECU itself, better take it to the dealership.

And this doesn't even touch on the notion of aftermarket tunes for better performance and/or fuel economy.

If the manufacturers are forced to give up the goods on all the computerized components of autos, will this mean that any car, anywhere, will now be tunable by your local mom-and-pop repair shop or performance shop or what have you? Or, more importantly, will most of the 3rd-party tuning packages now work on anything provided you have a lappy and can hook up to the OBD2/CAN port? Will this be retroactive? Does that mean that my '04 Ion 1 will FINALLY be tunable?

This might not be a big deal around here, but any number of performance enthusiast sites out there had better be jumping for joy over this.

This makes me happy (1)

GospelHead821 (466923) | more than 5 years ago | (#29434001)

I had to repair my Saturn twice because the company wouldn't release information to a mechanic. My clutch went out on the highway and the mechanic told me that it was either the master cylinder or the slave cylinder, but they didn't have the diagnostic tools to verify which and they were getting the runaround from the manufacturer. Something like $200 to replace the slave cylinder or $500 to replace the master cylinder. I had them replace the slave cylinder and in the process, they had to repressurize the system anyway, which let me complete my trip. It turns out that the master cylinder was actually the problem, though. When I took it to a Saturn dealership to have it repaired, they told me, "Oh yeah. We see this problem all the time on this model." They couldn't have shared that with the mechanic and saved me $200, huh?

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