OPINION: Vote to end car manufacturers’ iron grip on repairs – Opinion – The Taunton Daily Gazette, Taunton, MA

John R. Stewart lives in Taunton.

Vote “Yes” on Question One. End the ripoff.

The “Right to Repair” question is on the ballot for the reason of forcing car manufacturers to release the software used on modern cars to control many things, such as anti-lock brakes, traction control and many accessory functions.

By keeping this software secret, car companies want to force you to use their dealerships for service. Allowing this software to be released will allow you to have an independent shop service your vehicle.

Now the TV channels are being swamped by ads from the car companies making wild and exaggerated claims that releasing the software will somehow endanger your safety. This is misleading and lying in order to allow the car dealer service departments to rip you off. The reason they’re spending all this money is to maintain their ability to charge you whatever they want. That is why GM, Ford, Toyota, Honda and Nissan have contributed $25 million to defeating this initiative.

The car companies don’t want to protect you, they want to preserve their ability to charge you money.

One TV spot cites a NHTSA report that they claim supports their position that the ballot question compromises your safety. In fact, the NHTSA says no such thing. The truth is that all it says is that making the software changes as fast as mandated will be difficult.

The car companies are spending all this money on an ad campaign for one reason: They want to maintain their monopoly on car software so they can continue to charge whatever they want to fix your car. We all know how competition from independent shops creates big savings on many maintenance activities. Leading examples are brake service, emission control repair and oil changes.

The car companies are fearful that they may lose their ability to rip you off with charges like “service access” and “diagnostic” for hundreds of dollars, and there will be no way for you to avoid it.

End the ripoff. Vote “Yes” on Question One.

John R. Stewart


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