Whilst relatively simple in concept, for many understand what the right to repair is and why it’s important can be quite difficult, particularly with something like a car where you may not do much work yourself on a regular enough basis – despite this, it’s an extremely important thing that has changed many aspects of our day to day and understanding how exactly it impacts you is important to know just what you lose as further changes continue to be made.
An easy example to look at is modern smartphones, whilst we all take great advantage of the increased connectivity and performance, they bring to fuel our viewing habits for consuming media and for playing some of our favourite games here, it’s also easy to neglect what has been lost along the way – expandable storage, headphone jacks, access to key components. It’s something that some companies have explored before as names in tool industry like iFixIt have pointed out before that brands like Apple even have their own custom fixings to make it difficult to dissemble the unibody design that is now so common – for example, if something goes wrong with your phones battery, older devices would’ve simply allowed you to pop the back off, pull the battery out, and replace it, but newer devices have proprietary screws, the battery sealed down, a voided warranty, and no guarantee that a new battery will have the right hardware ID to even work and not be blocked by the device. The change forces you back to the manufacturer to pay the expensive fees, regardless of how small or how big the task at hand may be.
(Image from forbes.com)
So why is this important for something bigger like a car, you may be wondering – modern vehicles are all electronic now, with the change going forward to electric vehicles make this all that much more prevalent – some manufacturers will tell you the change is essential for safety, for example, as a non-qualified person working on electrical components could injure themselves or damage the vehicle, but there are other components that should be easy to change that are becoming much less possible to do so – take something like a set of brake pads, a component you may only need to change once or twice for a period that you have a car, but a vital component to your safety and extremely easy to change but with modern electronic brake callipers there are all sorts of problems that can be associated with changing a simple component without the expert tools required.
The push for the right to repair is certainly starting to heat up as more pressure is being placed on companies to allow for the consumer to fix their own products, but it doesn’t mean all will follow suit, the next big battle for cars will certainly come through electric vehicles and everything that will attempt to block the right to repair, and as such it’s important to have a better understanding on what you actually lose during this change too.