According to the BBC, the car industry is on the cusp of complete redefinition, thanks to significant changes in automobile technology that are rapidly shaping the future of transportation. Those features, which were previously only found in high-spec vehicles, are now often found in budget models too, so the likelihood is, if you’re a driver, at some point soon you’ll experience telematics for yourself – that’s the in-car telecommunications tech that keeps all the different systems talking to each other.
The thing is, the more technology you have in your car, the more systems there are that might fail – so if that happens, where can you go to get it fixed, and what can you do about it?
Think back to cars of the past, and you may have only had a few buttons and dials to play with – headlights, windscreen wipers and indicators have all been staple components of the automobile for years, and if you were lucky, you might even have a radio installed. In comparison, the most highly rated modern vehicles use voice activated entertainment and heads up displays to allow a driver to fully control the car whilst keeping their eyes on the road and their stress level at a minimum.
The ‘right to repair’ concept relates to how this technology can be maintained and fixed if necessary. The problem is that if only certain companies can deal with your car, the lack of competition will impact upon costs, which can be very high.
The latest legislation
The term ‘right to repair’ refers to legislation that allows the consumer to modify or repair their own devices, rather than going back to the original manufacturer to do so. This same legislation applies to vehicle telematics systems, including diagnostic electrics, tracking hardware and software, intelligent electric vehicle charging controllers and power consumption monitors, satellite navigation systems, integrated cellular systems, and satellite radio… and of course there are many more too.
However, many manufacturers utilise their own mechanical data tracking systems, which means that if you buy one of their models, you’re locked in to using their services. You won’t be able to access the data and diagnostics you need to accurately assess how to repair your car yourself even if you wanted to – and the same applies to independent repair services and dealerships which are not affiliated with a specific manufacturer.
The good news is that things are changing, and in 2010, the European Union block exemption rules for ‘garage servicing’ were reviewed and reformed to allow consumers to have a choice when deciding where they’d like to take their car for repair or service. Further reform is proposed to make sharing of data, manuals and diagnostic tools mandatory, but it’s unclear how Brexit will affect the actions of the U.K. in deciding whether to move ahead with the issue.
In the meantime, make sure you consider repair costs when you buy any new car – and keep your eye on the news for initiatives such as those proposed in the United States, which would require manufacturers selling cars to ensure consumer access to an open platform data system in all new vehicles from 2022.
The right to repair is one of those things that you might not naturally factor in as a consideration when choosing a new car – but if you want to avoid high repair costs, it’s certainly important, especially whilst legislation isn’t in place to regulate it. Make sure you can easily put right whatever goes wrong, and you’ll be able to enjoy your car and its telematics systems for years, stress free.
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