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Massachusetts "Right To Repair" Initiative On Ballot, May Override Compromise

samzenpus posted about a year and a half ago | from the fix-it-yourself dept.

Transportation 238

skids writes "MA voters face a complex technical and economic question Tuesday about just how open automobile makers should be with their repair and diagnostic interfaces. A legislative compromise struck in July may not be strong enough for consumer's tastes. Proponents of the measure had joined opponents in asking voters to skip the question once the legislature, seeking to avoid legislation by ballot, struck the deal. Weeks before the election they have reversed course and are again urging voters to pass the measure. Now voters have to decide whether the differences between the ballot language and the new law are too hard on manufacturers, or essential consumer protections. At stake is a mandated standard for diagnostic channels in a significant market."

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238 comments

As a classic car enthusiast... (4, Insightful)

sinij (911942) | about a year and a half ago | (#41884769)

As a classic car enthusiast, the only interface you need is your wrench set.

With this said, modern cars are designed to be off-limits for DIYers. This specific issue is about preventing locking down cars to the level that even independent mechanics can't touch them. So question should read "Do you believe that all cars, 2012 and newer should be only maintained at the dealer shops, or should independent shops have a way to do more than just change oil?"

Re:As a classic car enthusiast... (4, Insightful)

Captain Hook (923766) | about a year and a half ago | (#41884885)

As a classic car enthusiast, the only interface you need is your wrench set.

That seems a bit short sighted.

What about the classic enthusiasts coming up behind you, prehaps your children who might want to restore the car he remembers doing family holiday in from todays line up of cars?

Re:As a classic car enthusiast... (1, Informative)

characterZer0 (138196) | about a year and a half ago | (#41884957)

There are two kinds of classic enthusiats: the ones who work on their cars and the ones who write checks. If you work on your car, you want something pre-1996 anyway. If you write checks, you can write checks to the dealer.

Re:As a classic car enthusiast... (2)

sinij (911942) | about a year and a half ago | (#41885019)

Writing checks to the dealer is a lost cause. I recently had a cracked rear windshield. $800. Ouch, and I was lucky they could special order one. I wish I could manufacture my own glass...

Re:I wish I could manufacture my own glass... (3, Informative)

MRe_nl (306212) | about a year and a half ago | (#41885079)

Re:I wish I could manufacture my own glass... (0)

Nimey (114278) | about a year and a half ago | (#41885695)

Oh, fucking brilliant. You're supposed to put laminated safety glass in cars. Do you know what happens when you put in standard sheet glass instead and have a wreck?

Re:I wish I could manufacture my own glass... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41885807)

I thought the jest to be overly obvious, but alas; "Good sir, 'twas but a joke".
My most sincere apologies for any anguish or inconvenience you may have suffered,
yours truly
MRe_nl

Re:As a classic car enthusiast... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41885119)

Are you not in the US? Almost all insurance covers windshields.

Re:As a classic car enthusiast... (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#41885249)

Only if you pay for full coverage and a low deductible.
If you have the money it is probably not worth buying that level of insurance.

On a more common car windshields are about $200 installed.

Re:As a classic car enthusiast... (1)

theNetImp (190602) | about a year and a half ago | (#41885495)

move to Massachusetts, it's covered by comprehensive auto insurance (ie the minimal insurance required to register a car).

Re:As a classic car enthusiast... (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#41885515)

Liability is the minimum generally.
I am only insured for damage to others and medical.
Why would I want to insure my $5k car?

Re:As a classic car enthusiast... (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#41885545)

You don't have to have Comprehensive in Massachusetts. Liability coverage is all that is required.

The state minimums for Massachusetts drivers are as follows:

Part One: Bodily injury to othersâMinimum $20,000 per person, $40,000 per accident
Part Two: Personal injury protectionâPays up to $8,000 to you, passengers, pedestrians, or anyone you allow to drive your vehicle
Part Three: Bodily injury caused by an uninsured autoâMinimum $20,000 per person, $40,000 per
accident
Part Four: Damage to someone elseâ(TM)s propertyâMinimum $5,000 for property damage

Re:As a classic car enthusiast... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41885619)

Rejected State Mottos:

Move to Massachusetts, just in case your windshield cracks.

It wouldn't fit on the license plates.

Re:As a classic car enthusiast... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41885677)

No thanks, I prefer not to pay for others mistakes. I'd rather just save up and pay for my own.

Re:As a classic car enthusiast... (1)

theNetImp (190602) | about a year and a half ago | (#41885905)

There was a towtruck in front of me. Their was a 1/2 brick in the middle of a interstate highway. His tire hit the 1/2 brick which then launched into the air, and luckily hit the passenger side corner of my windshield. At the time my only thoughts were "OMG I'm gonna die" no quick let me get his plate number so I can get his insurance to cover it. I'm glad I didn't have to pay out of pocket for it.

Re:As a classic car enthusiast... (5, Insightful)

Captain Hook (923766) | about a year and a half ago | (#41885107)

But as time goes on, those purely mechanical vehicles will get rarer and rarer, to the point where not everyone is going to be able to afford one.

Evenutally you are going to get to the point where enthusiasts will need to decode the diagnostics codes to work on their own cars, maybe by then the codes will be well known, maybe they wont.

There is something else to consider here. At the moment the manufacturers are using security though obscurity, the codes may become well known especially 25 years after manufacture but if there is no law which says consumers have to be able to decode the diagnostics themselves. Whats to stop the manufacurers encrypting the codes, possibly on an ECU by ECU basis? The reader has to be networked to head office and request the decryption code for each customer vehicle at least one in order to work out whats wrong?

Re:As a classic car enthusiast... (1)

paraax (126484) | about a year and a half ago | (#41885567)

Chances are an aftermarket ECU will be used to get around those cases. As more of the system communications is encrypted more will have to be modified to be able to use the car, but the basic components of the car will be intact. This solution might work fine for the collector. The individual who just wants to fix their car will more likely pay a lot more to a dealership or highly specialized repair shop, however.

Re:As a classic car enthusiast... (3, Interesting)

sinij (911942) | about a year and a half ago | (#41885801)

This is very interesting point, and aftermarket parts are of great interest to any classic (or just old) enthusiast.

Two problems with aftermarket - size of the market and quality.

Size of the market is easy to explain, with ZERO interface standardization for any automotive part you have to consider how many potential customers are out there for an aftermarket part. Old civic tinted headlights? Tons to chose from. ECU for mid-90s luxury car - not so much.

Quality is also huge issue. Everything manufactured in China and is very, very cheaply made. Often times replacement parts fail quicker than used parts. Currently anyone doing work "for myself" uses used parts with some R&R.

Noticeable exception to above is when a specific part has a very high rate of failure for all cars on the road, and such failure does not kill the car outright. At this point someone in the US will setup small-scale manufacturing out of their own garage and make a living selling parts to fellow enthusiasts.

Re:As a classic car enthusiast... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41885581)

Even the dealers forget how to work on them eventually.

Re:As a classic car enthusiast... (3, Interesting)

sjames (1099) | about a year and a half ago | (#41885707)

Sure, now. Just like in '97, nobody would consider a '95 to be a 'classic car', just like in 1958 nobody considered the '57 Chevy to be a classic car.

In 2020, that ;00 will be looking pretty classic, but impossible to fix up because the communications interface and protocols will still be deep dark secrets.

Re:As a classic car enthusiast... (4, Interesting)

sinij (911942) | about a year and a half ago | (#41884979)

Mid 90s and newer with few rare exceptions will be lost cause. Already some pristine mid-90s cars are having difficulties with dried/leaked out capacitors and ECUs going south. These are primitive systems compared to your typical car of today.

The only classic cars on the road in 2030 will be the ones that are classic and are on the road today.

Re:As a classic car enthusiast... (0)

afidel (530433) | about a year and a half ago | (#41885069)

Yes, because replacing some caps on the ECU is SO much harder than a frame off restoration....
I've done both and I can tell you that reviving an old computer is about 2000x less work than the frame off rotisserie restoration. If a car from the 90's is worth restoring people will find a way and it won't be that much more expensive than restoring a classic muscle car (now the custom plastic pieces might be an issue, but so is restoring or replacing old chrome pieces).

Re:As a classic car enthusiast... (2)

sinij (911942) | about a year and a half ago | (#41885231)

I also have done both, and I will tell you that yes, restoring electronics is much harder. Most electrical problems are intermittent to start with, so diagnostic is absolute nightmare. Then you have electronics vs. wiring issue. Then you have to locate wiring diagrams, 90's cars you can still read them, anything newer and diagrams get too complex to trace/understand.

For 90s-era cars current default mode of operation is that you replace with used or stock liquidation new part. You do not generally rebuild, because how labor-intensive such process would be. In 10 years parts will dry off and cars will be force off road.

Re:As a classic car enthusiast... (2)

Type44Q (1233630) | about a year and a half ago | (#41885333)

restoring electronics is much harder

More labor-intensive or more challenging for the not-so-technically-inclined shadetree mechanic-type?

Re:As a classic car enthusiast... (5, Informative)

sinij (911942) | about a year and a half ago | (#41885571)

Both. I have a degree that allows me to understand wiring diagrams and repair electronics. I still would rather do frame restorations.

Why? Because when you are dealing with old electronics you frequently have to deal with difficult to diagnose intermittent problems. You are dealing with aging sensors, degraded wiring, lose connections, out-of-spec electronics and there isn't memory dump or line-by-line debug to help you figure out what went wrong. With some of the harder problems you have to manufacture tools or methods to simulate test conditions.

Even 2013-model brand spanking-new car, using dealer's bells-and-whistles diagnostic system will not tell you faults outside of individual modules or sensors. Why? Because standard is remove and replace. Plus it won't tell you why this or that module or sensor is failing. Did wiring harness rot? Do you have lose connector somewhere? Is diagnostic system itself is failing? If problem doesn't happen that often during warranty period, then solving/detecting this problem isn't part of design.

Re:As a classic car enthusiast... (1)

DarkOx (621550) | about a year and a half ago | (#41885505)

Well with old chrome parts you can shape a bit of sheet steel slowly and painful with hand tools in your garage, worst case and take it some place to have it chromed.

With plastic parts not so much. I work on a '85 Alfa Romero, you can improvise just about any metal part you need or find an after market manufacturer. Its the plastic bits that are terribly expensive and or difficult to find. Which is not say metal body parts are exactly cheap but you feel like you get something for the money.

Re:As a classic car enthusiast... (1)

ArhcAngel (247594) | about a year and a half ago | (#41885575)

The Raspberry Pi [raspberrypi.org] is more powerful than virtually every ECU ever produced but the ECU will cost you about 10x more. If the specs were known an ECU emulator and a harness to USB adapter could easily replace the ECU entirely.

And I know all too well about intermittent harness problems. Doesn't mean I wouldn't want to restore a newer classic.

As my first job out of school was for an AC Delco reman shop I know all too well how poorly ECUs are designed and manufactured. I would gladly replace the ECU with one of my own design if I could.

Re:As a classic car enthusiast... (2)

BitZtream (692029) | about a year and a half ago | (#41885785)

A Raspberry Pi would also last about 3 hot/cold cycles before it failed due to mechanical stresses of heating/cooling plus vibration under the hood. It also doesn't have a snowballs chance in hell of being able to deal with the voltage spikes floating around under there.

Processing power isn't what makes an ECU expensive. Its not a PC with shitty lowest common denominator parts. ECUs must be somewhat hardy or they'll fail over night.

Just because you worked at a shop doesn't mean you know how it works, I know plenty of 'cell phone' or 'pager' repair guys that think they know all about RF that don't know jack shit. You've done nothing but prove you're the same.

Re:As a classic car enthusiast... (2)

bmxeroh (1694004) | about a year and a half ago | (#41885893)

I know you weren't implying that you have something right this second you would like to replace but Megasquirt [megasquirt.info] is pretty much exactly what everyone is looking for. It's quite a nifty project, and seems to be gaining a decent following.

Bullcrap (4, Insightful)

dutchwhizzman (817898) | about a year and a half ago | (#41885203)

People take so much time complaining about "modern technology" that they have none left to learn how to deal with it. I work on cars as a hobby and I'm doing fine even repairing modern cars that dealers can't get fixed. Yes, I use my brain combined with old school skills to fix all sorts of cars, modern and classic. Modern cars aren't that more difficult to fix or diagnose, it just takes a decent understanding of basic electronics and mechanics. Modern diagnostic computer systems should be standardized, so independent mechanics and hobby workers can still afford to work on them. It has always required mechanical skills, knowledge and good diagnostic skills to work on cars and that should remain the same, even if you need some computerized equipment to do some of the diagnostics. If a dealer can't fix it, it's usually because they have bad diagnostics technicians working for them, not because the computers are making it difficult. They had the same problem 50 years ago, when cars didn't have computers or electronics and the same applies to hobby workers.

Re:Bullcrap (2)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | about a year and a half ago | (#41885375)

...Modern diagnostic computer systems should be standardized, so independent mechanics and hobby workers can still afford to work on them.

Bingo: that's what the proposed law is about.

Or, if not standardized, at least documented.

Re:As a classic car enthusiast... (1)

Bumbles (2573453) | about a year and a half ago | (#41885027)

That seems a bit short sighted. What about the classic enthusiasts coming up behind you, prehaps your children who might want to restore the car he remembers doing family holiday in from todays line up of cars?

With all the electronics that are in cars these days, they will likey be called something other than classics (mostly reserved for what we consider to be classic cars today) and you are out of luck unless you have the training and access to diagnostic equipment.

Re:As a classic car enthusiast... (1)

Hentes (2461350) | about a year and a half ago | (#41885031)

Just because a car has some chips in it doesn't mean they have to be locked down.

Re:As a classic car enthusiast... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41885127)

It doesn't mean they have to be. Doesn't change the fact that they are, though.

Re:As a classic car enthusiast... (1)

sjames (1099) | about a year and a half ago | (#41885757)

That's kinda what the Right to Repair initiative is all about. The law could change the fact that they are if the initiative passes.

Re:As a classic car enthusiast... (4, Informative)

sinij (911942) | about a year and a half ago | (#41885155)

Maybe this will help you understand. Do you remember your first computer? Well, imagine you _STILL_ want to use it today, only it was sitting OUTSIDE in the COLD, HUMID, or HOT weather.

This is what electronics-everything in your car mean for its longevity. 20 years if garaged is doable, anything more and you are running in weird issues like capacitors going bad in all kinds of imaginative way, spikes forming shorts on solder connections, and resistor degradation.

It is not IF, it is question of WHEN.

Re:As a classic car enthusiast... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41885789)

There are plenty of items generally not considered by the average person as "wear items" (tires, belts, air filters, etc) in a pre-computer car that do not age well (and I will assume the car is in use, if it isn't all the fluids and seals will need replacing). Distributors, spark plug wires, hoses, bearings, many plastic gears (so many dead spedometers and odometers out there), etc, etc.

Re:As a classic car enthusiast... (2)

Hadlock (143607) | about a year and a half ago | (#41885083)

Antique vehicles start at 1982 here in Texas (30 years). Cadillacs already had electronic diagnostic software by then (starting in 1979, I think). EFI on other GM vehicles wasn't far behind after the gas crisis. The venerable BMW E30 has had it's computer well mapped, but it's very primitive compared to what is going in to cars now. A ten year old 750i is only worth about $1200, nobody is going to pay a BMW dealership at dealership rates to diagnose it in twenty more years.

Re:As a classic car enthusiast... (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#41885189)

$1200? I think you left off a zero, or I should just buy 10 of them.

Re:As a classic car enthusiast... (2)

sinij (911942) | about a year and a half ago | (#41885289)

No, $1200 is about right. Your typical indie bill for minor-to-moderate fix would be $2000 and anything more involved (what could possibly go wrong with a V12, right?) is all but guaranteed write-off.

If you don't wrench, you can't keep it on the road.

Re:As a classic car enthusiast... (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#41885327)

To be clear, you are telling me I can get a 2002 750i for $1200.
Which means I can get any parts I need for another $1200, since I could just buy another one for spare parts.

I think I found my next toy if that is true.

Re:As a classic car enthusiast... (1)

sinij (911942) | about a year and a half ago | (#41885673)

Not 2002, but 1987-1992 for sure and 1992-1995 probably doable for $1200.

Re:As a classic car enthusiast... (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#41885725)

His claim was 10 years old, those are more like 20 years old.

Re:As a classic car enthusiast... (1)

jittles (1613415) | about a year and a half ago | (#41885643)

As someone who still enjoys working on cars, even modern ones, I say yes. I've got a very nice OBD-II tool but I have to pay an extra $400 to be able to read a small portion of BMW codes, another $400 for Mercedes, $400 for Subaru, $400 for Honda, etc etc etc. And that doesn't even cover all of the latest and greatest codes, either. What is the point of having an ODB-II standard if every manufacturer can chose to encrypt their manufacturer specific codes? Of course, I also wonder why we have a ClearQAM standard when cable companies can still force you to use a cable card / cable box to watch TV, so what do I know?

Re:As a classic car enthusiast... (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#41885689)

Are these codes not available on the internet?
I would assume someone would buy them and then post them.

Re:As a classic car enthusiast... (1)

rock_climbing_guy (630276) | about a year and a half ago | (#41885717)

Off-limits? I wandered off-limits when I changed the timing-belt in my wife's car and installed new brake discs and oxygen sensors in mine?

Vehicle diagnostics should be wide open! (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41884813)

Something's wrong when I have to dedicate a laptop, play $350 for a special cord and software, and teach my self this software just to 'adapt' my VW's throttle body?

BMW drivers have it even worst!

Federal legislative language should read that EVERY manufacturer that wants to sell cars in the US must allow owners to look at and function every aspect of their own car without special dealer tools.

"Right to Repair?" (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41884855)

What?

How is making something difficult and expensive to repair on one's own (see: most all products sans food these days) a denial of the "Right to Repair?"

You have a damn RIGHT to repair it however you want. You just face the consequences. This doesn't change anything that's in force today except the ease of connecting a diagnostic reading device to a vehicle's computer to aid in problem identification.

Re:"Right to Repair?" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41885843)

I was waiting for the shills to chime in. Seriously- how much does someone in your line of work get paid? How are working conditions? Benefits?

How far will it go? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41884883)

If you can't sell something that contains coded information?

So are we saying vehicle diagnostics are a special case? Just diagnostic codes, or any private coding scheme anywhere?

It seems like a stretch, like maybe you should be requiring manufacturers to provide certain diagnostic capabilities standard instead of attacking the use of coding schemes directly.

Don't Panic! (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41884891)

Soon all corporations will avoid dealing with your misinterpreted ownership by simply avoiding manufacturing *things* in the USA. See, the Supreme Court just held up that "first sale" doesn't count if the *thing* was intended to be sold to a segregated market, or sold to you by an unlicensed distributor.

To prevent you from having a "right to repair" the auto manufacturers must simply stop manufacturing automobiles in the USA. Then they can be imported by a licensed distributor and licensed to you to operate. That way you never own your vehicle, and you have no right to tamper (read: repair) with it.

Because obviously if you tamper with something you don't own you are a criminal, and should be treated as such. I guess it's a very good thing we first changed our tamper^H^H^H^H^H^H reverse-engineering laws to make that illegal too.

See how this is a win/win for our Police State and Capitalist Economy?

Re:Don't Panic! (4, Informative)

theNetImp (190602) | about a year and a half ago | (#41885287)

"See, the Supreme Court just held up that "first sale" doesn't count if the *thing* was intended to be sold to a segregated market"

NO they didn't. They just heard the arguments. A conclusion isn't expected for several months. Stop glancing at articles and actually read them.

never own your vehicle = they have to cover all (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year and a half ago | (#41885583)

never own your vehicle = they have to cover all repair costs maybe even laws covering rented cars will be in there as well.

Re:Don't Panic! (1)

sjames (1099) | about a year and a half ago | (#41885915)

Not really, no. A state could pass a law making it explicitly illegal to sell or rent a car that does not have full disclosure in place (with exceptions in place for individual owners). I suspect the disclosures would be forthcoming.

What's the point? (0)

jcr (53032) | about a year and a half ago | (#41884913)

Doesn't that state also have a bunch of local ordinances that prohibit working on your car in your driveway or parked on the street?

-jcr

Re:What's the point? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41884959)

Doesn't that state also have a bunch of local ordinances that prohibit working on your car in your driveway or parked on the street?

-jcr

Local ordinances != state laws.

Re:What's the point? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41885415)

I've never been busted for working on my car in the street in the People's Republic of Cambridge. In much of middle America your neighborhood owner's association is going to have rules against this; fortunately in a city if you don't live in a condo the only rules are set by people you can vote against if you disagree with them.

Re:What's the point? (2)

theNetImp (190602) | about a year and a half ago | (#41885313)

There is no state law preventing you from working on your car in your driveway. If there was then I know people who break it all the time, myself included. Their may be some town ordinances, but those are rare.

That said this is NOT about you fixing your car in the driveway. This is about giving local repair shops the information they need to repair your car. Dealer charge $65/hr local places usually around $45/hr. If the local guy can't fix it then you're strung up for another $20/hr.

Re:What's the point? (1)

fermion (181285) | about a year and a half ago | (#41885445)

This is not just about working on your car in a driveway. It is knowing if there is a problem, and if the problem need to fixed now or later, and what the fix should involve. For instance, my car will tell me when anything is wrong in many parts of the car, but when something is wrong in the engine, all that will happen is the 'check engine light'. Even with a scanner, and I have one for my talbet, there is precious little information to be had. The information should be there, but the car computer will not give it up. So when I take it to the shop i don't really know what to expect. Furthermore I don't know if I can take it to one of the 10 autopart stores around me and fix it myself(not in the driveway) or if I have to take to my mechanic, who is trustworthy, reliable, and not incredible expensive, which means there is also always a line.

Re:What's the point? (2)

hey! (33014) | about a year and a half ago | (#41885769)

Doesn't that state also have a bunch of local ordinances that prohibit working on your car in your driveway or parked on the street?

-jcr

Nope. Not as far as I know.

This is the first I've ever heard of that and I've lived in Massachusetts all my life. I've worked on my car in the street with no complaints, and see others do it all the time. I don't see how you could ban *all* working on cars. If you've got a flat tire or a bad headlight, what would you be supposed to do? I could understand some communities banning oil changing on the street given the convenient storm drains for illegally dumping your waste oil, but I don't know of any that have. It's easy to dispose of used oil. Any store that sells oil is required to accept used oil for recycling, which I suppose is probably the national norm.

In any case, on-street repairs are not practical much of the year due to lousy weather. Most people would prefer to do the work in their garage if they have one.

Owners shouldn't work on their cars (-1, Troll)

Tailhook (98486) | about a year and a half ago | (#41884947)

Contemporary cars are very complex because they must be clean and efficient. Specialized tools are necessary for service work. If manufacturers must limit themselves to open, standardized interfaces they will be slower in achieving greater emissions and fuel efficiency.

It's time to accept the fact that the priority must be emissions and efficiency and not owner's liberty. If the cost is higher then so be it. The environment is more important. We can't ruin the planet to mollify shade-tree mechanics. If owning and servicing cars at qualified dealers makes ownership too expensive for working class people then they need to learn to live without cars.

Just saying what you lefties would say if you had the balls.

Re:Owners shouldn't work on their cars (5, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about a year and a half ago | (#41885033)

Specialized tools are necessary for service work

This does not count as a "necessary" specialization of a tool:

if(!auth(diagnostic_tool)){return null;}
else{return run_diagnostic();}

If manufacturers must limit themselves to open, standardized interfaces they will be slower in achieving greater emissions and fuel efficiency.

[Citation needed]

It's time to accept the fact that the priority must be emissions and efficiency and not owner's liberty

Therefore, we should ensure that only mechanics who pay the maker of the car a monthly fee can perform repairs!

There is a logical step missing from your argument...

Re:Owners shouldn't work on their cars (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#41885085)

No one says they have to limit themselves to those interfaces. They can just provide the specs and documentation. They have to this information already requiring they make it public is not a huge stretch.

You are just being a nutcase.

Re:Owners shouldn't work on their cars (1)

nion (19898) | about a year and a half ago | (#41885109)

Specalized tools are necessary to remove half of the front end and 1/3 of the engine to change the frickin' oil.

Feeding the troll (4, Insightful)

sjbe (173966) | about a year and a half ago | (#41885149)

Specialized tools are necessary for service work.

This is not true for a great deal of maintenance. Furthermore specialized tools are often not necessary if the parts are designed sensibly. Often the manufacturer has a choice when designing it and using a specialized tool when one is not needed is an attempt at lock in. Encouraging lock in and short-cut design is a bad idea always.

If manufacturers must limit themselves to open, standardized interfaces they will be slower in achieving greater emissions and fuel efficiency.

The logic of that does not compute. A well designed interface can greatly speed achievement of emissions and fuel efficiency standards. Standard tooling, electrical interfaces, etc can greatly reduce cost, complexity and allow engineers to focus efforts on more productive pursuits. Reinventing interfaces because of Not-Invented-Here is frankly rather stupid. Arguably using closed proprietary interfaces slows development rather than speeding it up in many cases.

Just saying what you lefties would say if you had the balls.

Ahh, I get it. You are a troll. My bad for feeding you...

Re:Owners shouldn't work on their cars (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41885165)

What a load of BS! There is no reason the average owner cannot unplug a bad coil on plug and plug in a new one in 15 minutes rather than you and the spouse taking time off work to drop the thing off at the garage to do the same simple thing. If a auto mechanic can do it anyone can do it. Not exactly the brain trust down there at the local Midas.

Re:Owners shouldn't work on their cars (1)

sycodon (149926) | about a year and a half ago | (#41885187)

Almost had me there. As is the norm, I started banging out a response before reading everything, such as the last line.

If the measure of Sarcasm is that you can't tell it from the real thing, then you are brilliant!

Bravo!

Re:Owners shouldn't work on their cars (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41885201)

Contemporary cars are very complex because they must be clean and efficient. Specialized tools are necessary for service work.

Like the OBDII interface perhaps?

The entire point is that these interfaces should be open, documented interfaces to your vehicle not proprietary stuff that is locked down for no other reason than to make more money. It is like a PC with non-standard expansion cards so you need to buy all your extras from the company that sold you the originals.

Another example would be inkjet printers that are locked down with DRM so you can't use 3rd party ink.

So back with cars, this ballot initiative is more about independent mechanics using 3rd party software to read car's diagnostics messages. Nothing really special there.

Finally, if you are worried about emissions, perhaps yearly emission control checks when you buy your car insurance would be more to your liking??

Just saying what you lefties would say if you had the balls

Trolling much?

Re:Owners shouldn't work on their cars (1)

sycodon (149926) | about a year and a half ago | (#41885273)

Six people so far who didn't read the whole post.

ROFLMAO!

And I bet the Mods didn't either.

Re:Owners shouldn't work on their cars (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year and a half ago | (#41885429)

If manufacturers must limit themselves to open, standardized interfaces they will be slower in achieving greater emissions and fuel efficiency.

Just saying what you lefties would say if you had the balls.

Oh, so you are lying because you think that's funny. Got it.

Re:Owners shouldn't work on their cars (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41885499)

Not only do you Lefties not have the Balls, you have no sense of Humor either.

Re:Owners shouldn't work on their cars (2)

theNetImp (190602) | about a year and a half ago | (#41885451)

This is about getting error codes not tools. There's this diagnostics device you can buy at Autozone. You plug it in to the outlet under the dash, and start your car. It spits out an error code, and if you're lucky it spits out the problem, if you're lucky. More often than not that problem is something like a Oxygen Sensor. Something which takes 5 minutes to replace, and requires little or no tools, as it just clips onto a wire harness, and into the air filter. Cars (other than hybrids) haven't changed much, and neither has fixing them. If you're computer is bad, you get a new computer, and plug it in. It's not rocket science.

This is about having the information you need to go to the local parts dealer and buy the right part. Without the codes the local auto mechanics who own businesses can't fix the cars either, and end up guessing at what's wrong and wasting your precious money.

Re:Owners shouldn't work on their cars (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41885813)

Oxygen Sensor is the most wrongly oversold part in the auto parts business. WIthout the proper information or a knowledgeable mechanic this part will continue to be oversold again and again. And it's not in the air filter.

Most Oxygen Sensor sales the customer ends up returning for the 'real problem' later on. After replacing the computer (which wasn't bad either, they usually find a vacuum leak, or dirty MAF sensor, etc etc.

Re:Owners shouldn't work on their cars (1)

VFA (1064176) | about a year and a half ago | (#41885793)

I am sorry, but by that logic all the lawnmowers, chainsaws, snow-blowers, etc. in the world should have highly sophisticated ignition systems with locked down ECUs. I think not. I think you are highly misguided, though your heart is in the right place. You can most certainly make an open system that is just as efficient as a closed one. This is all about exclusion and not improving emissions. Big business doesn't give a rat's ass about the emissions. All they care about and are legally required to care about is bottom line and shareholders' profits. If I can not repair my older car due to the stupid error codes in the ECU I need to go out and buy a new car and junk this one. I just made an environmental impact that far exceeds keeping the old less efficient car running. Get it?

same principle as free software? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41885039)

Is it sloppy thinking to think that the principle here, if applied consistently, should give us laws relating to software sale that would more or less come out the way Richard Stallman would write them for us if given the opportunity?

Why stop at cars??? (3, Interesting)

bobthesungeek76036 (2697689) | about a year and a half ago | (#41885111)

I have a Sun Enterprise M4000 server that has the fault light on. In order to clear the fault light, I must run the "clearfaults" command on the service processor. You must get a special password from now Oracle in order to execute the command... I should be able to run the command myself without paying Oracle for a support contract.

don't get it (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41885117)

I'm a MA voter. I read the law. It sounds like the data needs to be made available in a standardized and un-encrypted way for all future cars. If you have all ready conceded to making the info available, what is the problem in doing it in a non-proprietary way?

That was a rhetorical question. I'm voting yes.

Whatever (1)

sunking2 (521698) | about a year and a half ago | (#41885125)

Not that I don't agree with it personally it doesn't really affect me. I've always been able to track down whatever code I've needed on the internet. I understand an actual garage may not to want to rely on the internet for all it's needs, but for me personally just like I'll make due with the $20 Haynes and not the $800 Bentley manual I don't really need officially blessed. But then I'm not in the business either.

Not like CA's "lemon law" at all, is it? (2)

macraig (621737) | about a year and a half ago | (#41885145)

With a title like "Right to Repair", I thought I was going to be reading about another state trying to duplicate the purpose of California's so-called "Lemon Law", which literally is a 7-year right-to-repair mandate not just for automobiles but all mass-produced consumer goods with a cost over $100. In California, thus, manufacturers are obligated to make available the parts and documentation necessary to keep a product in service for no less than seven years.

This Massachusetts proposal seems to be a lot more limited and specific to vehicles.

Re:Not like CA's "lemon law" at all, is it? (3, Informative)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year and a half ago | (#41885307)

It's not like CA's lemon law, it's even more important. This is about having the keys to your own car's diagnostic data, sometimes fairly literally as you can't even get the data out (let alone understand it) without doing weird things to the PCM.

Re:Not like CA's "lemon law" at all, is it? (3, Interesting)

macraig (621737) | about a year and a half ago | (#41885503)

They serve two completely different purposes, then. California's law was about thwarting or reducing the impact of planned obsolescence, but it didn't mandate that consumers have direct control over the repair process; third parties were presumed to be involved. While this law is also about restoring more control from the manufacturers to the alleged owners of vehicles (only), it's not so much about planned obsolescence.

Re:Not like CA's "lemon law" at all, is it? (1)

TheCarp (96830) | about a year and a half ago | (#41885749)

Sounds right to me. In addition, MA also has a "Lemon Law". I don't think ours is so much about planned obselecnese as simple consumer purchase protection. That is... a consumer may cancel a sale if the person who sold it to him doesn't honor what ammounts to a mandatory 90 day warrantee. (with a $100 max deductable... and the option to, to buy back the vehicle instead of repairing it)

It appears to apply to private sales too, but, in the case of private sales only applies to finding problems with the vehicle that were not disclosed at time of purchase, wheras a car from a dealer actually has to pass inspection.

Clearly nowhere near as strong of a protection, but still called the "lemon law"

Re:Not like CA's "lemon law" at all, is it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41885367)

You're correct. This law is about information for vehicle repair. No more, no less.

Re:Not like CA's "lemon law" at all, is it? (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year and a half ago | (#41885489)

Yeah, when I read "right to repair" my first thought was about Apple. But no, this is car-only. The legislators are too short sighted to defend citizen rights against corporations unless one of the lawmakers is personally trying to fix his car and his "cheap" mechanic refused because the dealer doesn't share codes and readers or something like that.

yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41885233)

god damn right I'm voting for this and all other MA ballot questions.

I should be able to smoke pot to alleviate the pain caused by Crohn's even though I probably won't (I should be able to smoke pot anyway, but at least a step in the right direction), kill myself when I'm good and crippled and ready even though I probably won't, and bring my car to any mechanic to get it fixed (which I may do).

This should all be common sense. Why we need laws to ensure it I have no idea, but I'm happy to vote in favor of each to ensure we remain able.

SCOTUS ahead...fair use and property rights (3, Interesting)

ElitistWhiner (79961) | about a year and a half ago | (#41885329)

VW upgraded my new car's diagnostics software. ALL shift points, RPM ranges and throttle positions changed resulting in a new car that drives nicely like an olde lady would expect. So radical was this upgrade that it changed the handling and performance of the vehicle to something I would never buy.

VW have refused to re-install OEM software back to the new car fitment. So MA are onto the NEXT contentious issue for consumers paying $$$ hundreds of dollars monthly for product they have absolutely no control except paying rents to manufacturers

Re:SCOTUS ahead...fair use and property rights (1, Troll)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#41885593)

Shift points?

Why not just shift when you want? Or did you for some reason get a car with only two pedals? If you did, congratulations that is what old ladies drive.

Re:SCOTUS ahead...fair use and property rights (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41885797)

Two pedals? Why not just one: http://www.popsci.com/cars/article/2010-08/single-pedal-braking-and-acceleration-could-prevent-accidents

Re:SCOTUS ahead...fair use and property rights (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41885799)

He only has one leg you insensitive clod!

Re:SCOTUS ahead...fair use and property rights (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41885817)

Shift points?

Why not just shift when you want?

You know what really grinds my gears?

I bet you don't...

Re:SCOTUS ahead...fair use and property rights (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41885871)

Shift points?

Why not just shift when you want? Or did you for some reason get a car with only two pedals? If you did, congratulations that is what old ladies drive.

Some things we can control, others we can't. There comes a point when purchasing a vehicle where you have to ask yourself :

'Will I be able to deal with traffic, shift, deal with traffic, maintain my spacing, deal with traffic, all while diagnosing some WAN emergency over the phone with only three hours of sleep?'

The versatility and efficiency of a standard transmission is great, but it still requires overhead.

Implications for anything containing software (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41885535)

Part of the "right to repair" issue is whether manufacturers can bypass consumer protection laws and prevent after-market competition by locking down intellectual property in a non-software product.

Computer needed to change headlamp on 07 Dodge (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41885649)

I run my familys NAPA AutoCare center and this year we had a 2007 Dodge Caliber come in with a customer complaint of one headlight not working.... Even after replacing the bulb.

Only one of my techs knew that the TIPM module had to have the circuit reset with our $4,000 + Snap on scanner.

Yes I have read that you can do something with the battery cables and I am also aware of reasons not to do this... At the end of the day, a computer was needed to change the headlight on this particular vehicle.. Kind of insane..

Didn't IBM resolve this? (3, Interesting)

rickb928 (945187) | about a year and a half ago | (#41885849)

I made a good living servicing Selectric typewriters back in the 90s and uo to about 2002, entirely due to the court decision that forced IBM to permit independent servicers to purchase manuals, tools, and parts. And a little mechanical aptitude. Untimately it was about product owners being able to fix their own stuff, and engage whoever they wanted to. This decision had effects in other industries.

At the least, car manufacturers should be required to publish the specs for the diagnostic interfaces, and then sell the manuals (reasonable price was part of the IBM decision, IIRC) and let us service what we do in fact own. If they are claiming that the software is licensed, not sold, we need to have that fight.

FWIW, I drive a 1998 Saab 900 SET Convertible. What a fun car. If you hose up the top, for instance repositioning any of the potentiometers that feed back position data to the computer, you will be going back to the dealer or someone who purchased the very expensive Tech II tool, which is not just an OBD2 reader, but interfaces with various onboard computers and make settings etc. I've done some terrible things to the top so far, and no need to reprogram, but that's just because I was warned in advance. My local dealer gave me the radio code when I had the battery replaced - they didn't have to do that for free, but they did. I'm pretty interested in this, since I prefer to buy beaters, and soon there will be no such thing, just high-mileage cars that need trips to the dealer to solve specific onboard computer problems.And there will be more, not less. problems with this. Despite major improvements, I don't see these onboard computers getting that much better, and the automobile is a terrible environment for anything like that. With Saabs, the 9000 was notorious for problems figuring out just which computer was causing the error, and the TCS system would put you in limp mode at the drop of a hat. Perfectly good car, just the computer choosing to be broken. ABS, climate control, seats, top, etc, there are 7 computers I know of in the 1998 Saab 900, not counting ther SID and cruise control...

And Saabs, of course, are orphaned. Why would they withold info if there is no more business to protect? Mine can suffer any number of problems and that's the end of it, no part to fix it with. Windshield moldings seem to be gone now, so you use generic rubber. Parts for the top are becoming terribly precious.

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