Monday, May 4, 2015

Editorial: These Auto Manufacturers Wants to Make It Illegal to Work On Your Car

Image courtesy of Eric Peters Autos
For most gear heads, one of the best parts about owning an automobile is the satisfaction you get from working on it with your own two hands. Whether it is doing something as simple as changing the oil, or something far more complicated like an engine swap, nothing beats the feeling you get once you have completed working on a project on your car. As cars get more and more advanced technologies though, working on them has proven increasingly difficult. More and more, cars are controlled by complex networks of computers, managing every aspect of the vehicle including how the engine performs. Even the level of sophistication continues to increase for even the most amateur of mechanics, it does not mean gear heads cannot learn to adapt and find ways to modify the car's computer.

Image courtesy of  Tricks Guide
Unfortunately, there is a group of auto manufacturers that do not want gear heads to be able to work on their own vehicles anymore, and to make tampering or modifying your vehicle a punishable offense. How do they plan to do this? Because cars are so computer dependent now, this group of manufacturers want to declare modern cars as "mobile computing devices." So these manufacturers want to basically call cars rolling computers, but how does that prevent us gear heads from working on our own cars? By using the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, or DMCA for short. Sounds insane, right? This group of manufacturers wants to declare modifying a car's computer software or anything that could have an effect on the car's computer a violation of the DMCA. I understand that there are safety issues involved in working on a car, but as the owner of the vehicle, should not that be owner's problem to worry about?

It gets worse though.
Companies like GM and John Deere (yes, the lawn mower and tractor company) argue that people could potentially rewrite a car's software to pirate music off the internet via the car's on-board entertainment system.

Currently, here are the companies behind this notion:

General Motors Company
BMW Group
FCA US LLC (formerly known as the Chrysler Group)
Ford Motor Company
Jaguar Land Rover
Mercedes-Benz USA
Mitsubishi Motors
Volkswagen Group of America
Volvo Cars North America

This is clearly a ploy by the auto manufacturers to force people to bring their cars into their local dealership to get any sort of maintenance work done. This notion is also very bad for the already slipping aftermarket industry. It would make any sort of modification work essentially illegal. Obviously, I am not a fan of this idea. As the owner of a car, I should be able to work on or modify my car as I please. If I violate the warranty because of the work or modifications I have done, then that is on me. I seriously hope this idea never passes the "idea" phase, as it would not just piss off a large group of consumers, but also mechanics that make a living off of repairing or modifying cars.

For additional info, you can read the original news article here:

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