Bill of Rights

Sarah Palermo of the Keene Sentinal has a great piece that affirms the Maker’s Bill of Rights:

WINCHESTER — William L. Morse remembers a young woman who came to his auto repair shop a few months ago with a $3,000 repair bill hanging over her head.

He examined the car, which had been diagnosed by a dealership service shop, and repaired the vehicle for $300, he said.

“I’ve heard some pretty good horror stories,” says Morse, the Bill in Bill’s Ashuelot Garage in Winchester.

Many people are sent to dealerships for their repair work because of what he and other independent mechanics see as a monopoly on information.

From the time the Model T was introduced until recent years, cars operated on mainly mechanical systems. This gear connected to that belt, and the whole thing went “vrrooom.”

When it didn’t, a mechanic could open the hood or roll underneath to see which part was broken and fix or replace it.

Now, computers control most of the car, and diagnosing problems means buying and continually updating a computer system that plugs into the car’s computer and reports a code, telling the mechanic where the problem is.

The price of the system and the continual upgrades vary, according to technicians and shop owners. Some programs can be $100, while others cost a couple thousand, said Leon Watkins, co-owner of Leon’s Auto Center in Keene.

And sometimes, even with a system to translate the code shown on the computer into the appropriate problem, mechanics are still out of luck — if the code is a brand new one.

Mechanics seek ‘right to repair’ [via Jon Udell on Twitter]