What Is the Right to Repair?

Right to RepairLast year, there was major headway made on the topic of the right to repair. Federal regulators began to discuss what could be done against unlawful restrictions placed by product manufacturers and their inability to allow consumers to repair their own products. Apple was the first company to begin to allow access to parts and tools to their consumers for repairs. While many industries are slowly opening up to the right to repair, automakers continue resisting.

Automakers are arguing that their resistance is due to privacy issues for their consumers and are encouraging voters to look at the issue in the same manner. However, there may be darker and more mischievous reasons that automakers are resisting the right to repair: exclusive business. With the right to repair, they would lose exclusive rights to your vehicle and that means loss of control, as well as money.

Another fear may be that when a third party has access to repair, this can lead to a product defect. This might lead to an accident and make it difficult to determine the liable party. A local shop may also find a product defect during a routine inspection. If you are injured in an accident due to a defective auto part, you will need a Maryland product liability attorney.

How are automakers using our data?

Automakers say that their vehicles collect data through telematics platforms and nearly half of all new cars use these metrics. While they are creating campaigns to convince consumers that anyone will be able to access your GPS history with right to repair, this is not the reality. With the right to repair, the only accessible data is mechanical and diagnostic information. Their fear is that now, you can go to any repair or maintenance shop and do not need to go exclusively to the dealership where you purchased the vehicle.

This means that dealerships and repair shops are set to lose a significant amount of business. Automakers also fear that proprietary software will be exposed to the general public and what they spent years perfecting will be available to any and everyone. However, automakers are not publicly stating these concerns and are instead focusing on issues that are closer to home for many consumers.

Local repair shops have to jump through hoops to get data for new vehicles and often spend hundreds of dollars to obtain diagnostic information they only need for a minute or so. This eats into their profits. However, big car manufacturers do not want to budge on this topic and will not even consider working together with local repair shops to find a middle ground. The goal would be to implement privacy safeguards so that automakers can keep their information safe and still allow repair shops access to the data they need for repairs and maintenance.

John Deere and the right to repair

A current case of the right to repair costing more and being less convenient than going to a local repair shop is with John Deere. A cattle farmer who owns John Deere tractors was blindsided when a simple issue required that he contact John Deere directly instead of being able to go to a local repair shop. The technician came out, fixed the issue in minutes, and charged nearly $600.

This led to the cattle farmer, Trinity Dale Wells, filing a lawsuit in federal court. His suit states that John Deere’s tractor software is becoming a financial burden on small farmers due to proprietary software concerns. This is now a class-action lawsuit. Small farmers cannot find local shops to repair their tractors because there is a lack of right to repair them.

A number of lawsuits have been filed in various states against John Deere. Farmers may be forced to find alternatives to repair their tractors and may even see them malfunction if they cannot afford a technician to come out and perform repairs. The issue is so contentious that it’s even managed to move a sluggish Senate into introducing a bill to address it.

Products must be designed safely before they reach the hands of a consumer. If they are not, this can lead to injuries. When the right to repair is taken away from consumers and local shops, this can also lead to an accident. You may be unaware that there is an issue with your product until it is far too late. If you fear you do not have the right to repair a particular product such as a John Deere tractor or other product, you will need an experienced Maryland product liability attorney on your side.

Have you been injured by a defective product? The experienced Maryland product liability attorneys at Plaxen Adler Muncy, P.A. can help you file a claim. Call our office at 410-730-7737, or submit our contact form to schedule a consultation at one of our various locations across the state.