Everyone who owns a car has had to repair it at some point. Cars are marvellous devices, but they have many points of failure, and each should function properly to ensure safety and functionality. Even a small failure in a vehicle can lead to substantial damage and even threaten lives.
Most car owners can perform basic repairs of their vehicle by themselves, this was even encouraged in older vehicles with it progressively becoming more difficult. Even more advanced repairs can be done if one has the knowhow and tools, in the absence of which a third-party repair service provider can offer this service, without needing to contact the manufacturer of the car. One can also opt to use parts manufactured by other places such as Redarc Accessories or sometimes purchase them from the original manufacturer without much hassle to replace damaged parts in the vehicle. But this freedom is at risk. Companies are already working on making this as difficult as possible; they are actively influencing governments to pass legislation that would make it illegal to exercise your ‘Right to Repair’.
What is at risk?
Vehicles are manufactured by vehicle manufacturing companies by assembling many different parts, both produced by themselves as well as other companies. Due to the complexity of the vehicles themselves, they are extensively documented in manuals which aid the owners in performing maintenance and repairs. You or any repair service provider can perform repairs and purchase replacement parts from the same manufacturer that provided the originals. You can do as you wish with the vehicle you purchased and own.
This may no longer be the case. Companies such as John Deere and Tesla do not allow their suppliers to sell to third parties, and the firmware installed on their vehicles make it very difficult for the owner of the vehicle or a repair technician of their choosing to perform their own repairs. The only way to repair the vehicle is to take it to a repair technician authorised by the manufacturer, who can charge an arbitrary amount of money for the service, as there is no true competition. Some vehicles, especially due to the increased digitisation, have firmware which allow the manufacturing company to disable functionality if third party repairs or replacement parts are detected. This especially hinders people in remote areas who may not have convenient access to an authorised repair centre, such as farmers using John Deere tractors, who also cannot afford to wait until their tools are repaired (especially if they have the knowledge to do it themselves).
This trend can be seen in other consumer products such as laptops, mobile phones, refrigerators, TVs etc. where broken electronics are to be replaced instead of repaired. This results in a massive influx of waste while increasing the manufacturing companies’ profits. The ‘Right to Repair’ is a freedom that many don’t appreciate until it is lost, as we don’t truly own our devices if someone else can dictate how it is used.