Cars Energy & Sustainability
Fighting for our “right to repair”

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]

16 thoughts on “Fighting for our “right to repair”

  1. Thanks again to Peter,Phillip and Simon for the Maker’s Bill of Rights.
    Now more than ever this is pertanate to a World where Re-use and Re-purpose is very much needed.

  2. These are all good things, but I think ‘bill of rights’ is a misnomer. Calling it the “Maker’s Creed” or “Maker’s Manifesto” makes sense. A bill of rights would be stuff like, “nobody shall stop a maker from building stuff in the living room” or “Makers are always aloud to root through the dumpster” etc…

    Good list of goals though…

  3. There’s really a lot to be said about this.

    Since the IC has become so popular, the transistor has all but died off. I think the only transistors I’ve seen outside of an IC have only been power transistors. I miss them.

    Cars. Everything has come down to the “computer”. I bought a 1983 Mercedes simply because the entire thing is diagnosable and fixable with tools that don’t require a year of expert training; it has diodes, 741’s, 555’s and other simplistic(and CHEAP) parts. Same with my 1982 Dodge van. The ignition module has 3 wires going to it.

    But a 1988 Lincoln Towncar(and later a 1994 Mercury Sable) I owned had enough computer and ignition modules that when it died, I gave up after 4 months of trying to diagnose it: the computer wouldn’t report to the code reader(this was for BOTH of those cars), and since computer modules are non-returnable, if that ain’t the problem, you’ve just spend even more $$$ on a POS car.

    A friend has a Jeep that for some odd reason was decided that putting the voltage regulator inside the computer was a good idea. I guess because the computer couldn’t accurately tell whether the regulator was working if it were located outside of the computer unit(end sarcasm). Of course that means that if your alternator goes berzerk and blows the regulator, you buy an entire computer. $15 vs $300.

  4. Not sure why people think they have a “right” to any of this. As a consumer who likes to tinker to save money, it’s great. As an electronics designer, I don’t really want the consumer to do any repairs as most will screw it up, make it worse or hurt themselves. Remember too that most things are made for speedy, efficient and low cost manufacture in order to keep the consumer cost low so there is often a tradeoff between easy access and easy manufacturing.

  5. No $100.00, 10 page, xeroxed manuals. Service manuals should be available on-line, or at least for a fair price.

    There are some good companies which allow access to documentation, but there are others that seem to think that everything should be a profit center. This is particularly true for obsolete or superseded products.

    The outfits I really like are those that supply manuals on-line for hundreds of dollars, and when you go to the original manufacturer, they sell you the same manual for $27.00. I had that happen with a large machine tool.

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I'm a tinkerer and finally reached the point where I fix more things than I break. When I'm not tinkering, I'm probably editing a book for Maker Media.

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