Right to repair

They’re at it again in Massachusetts. The RTR bill passed last time and now the automakers are back at it. What I find particularly lame is the only argument they can come up with is that your data is not safe. If anyone can fix your car, then anyone has access to your data (phone address book, garage codes etc) and you could be a victim of a sexual predator or domestic violence. They have all kinds of scare tactics in their commercial showing young women being followed to their cars etc. The end of the commercial says “keep your data safe. Vote NO”.

I have a few issues with this position-

  1. Like car dealer mechanics are somehow screened more rigorously than other mechanics? No sexual predators could ever penetrate that bastion of safety…

  2. Maybe they should concentrate on making it more difficult to access these data points by ANYONE other then the owner? How hard could that be? Then your data would actually be safe regardless.

  3. Their actions block the rightful owner of the property from maintaining and repairing it. I don’t worry about my data because no one else is touching my car for the most part. Maybe under warranty but otherwise, no.

They tout a similar bill in CA failed for the same reason.
At the end of the commercial, in small hard to read print, it is sponsored by some ambiguous interest group but if you read the entire thing, it used to be called the automobile manufacturers group…

This is a big deal in farm country where you’ve got a half million dollar piece of equipment, all computer controlled, a tight time frame to get a job done, and the dealer 50 miles away. Farmers are not stupid and all they want is the ability to scan and diagnose a problem just like OBD II. Lots of resistance by the manufacturers which is making it tough to get the laws changed. The rest of the arguments are BS in my view.

One issue that may be a problem is the ownership of the data and software. Who owns the software used in cars, computers, etc. Who owns the data? Microsoft or me? It’s a sticky issue and I think the courts maybe screwed it up already. They don’t let you take your coffee pot apart and fix it anymore and they won’t let you take the computer apart.

Yes, we’ve had that discussion here before as well. I think the implement manufacturers are even more aggressive about it. You can’t do squat on those big tractors. Car manufacturers see that cash cow and start drooling. But car owners are a bigger pool and just might have more say. At least it’s a bill up for a vote. MA is a very consumer friendly commonwealth…

Man. Every time someone proposes something sensible, some idiot claims it will get people raped.

I remember once when working in TV, covering a proposed community garden in a neighborhood. Because the neighborhood was full of idiots, they all objected to the idea of the garden, even though it was going to go in an unused section of a park and not be in anyone’s way. More than one person stood up and said putting a community garden there would attract rapists and endanger the children. As though rapists hang out in lettuce patches a lot.

Just asinine.

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You will have to provide those details for me, and perhaps for some others.
How, exactly, is anyone prohibited from disassembling a coffee pot, or a computer, or anything else that they might own.?

And, more to the point, how is that “prohibition” enforced?
Is it anything like the “prohibition” on pumping your own gas in NJ?
There are actually people who think that some sort of mythical, specialized “gasoline police” are lurking, and waiting to put handcuffs on people who violate that prohibition.

Obviously, I must be extremely lucky, because I have been violating that gas pumping prohibition for 50 years or so, and nobody ever threatened to arrest me.

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Yet I find that NJ practice very annoying…

As for RTR, from what I’ve heard in EU take it is a requirement not to make design such that it deliberately makes reasonable repairs impossible.

Maybe @bing wording was not very precise, but I do understand what he refers to, as I’ve seen a number of household items deliberately made the way where they are inevitably damaged if disassembly is attempted.

But, for anyone with the sense to comprehend that it is essentially meaningless, it has virtually no effect.

If that was true on a widespread basis, why would sites like THIS exist:


Yeah thanks @thegreendrag0n I guess I knew that might require some additional keystrokes but I’m cleaning the garage without benefit of a robot.

In the old days I could take my coffee pot apart without destroying it, determine the part that it needed, drive downtown Minneapolis on my lunch break, and pick up the part I needed (heat fuse). I don’t remember what brand it was. Now you try taking apart a Keurig and you have to cut it up to get inside. No way you could re-assemble it again, and you certainly can’t buy the part that you need. Of the labels say no serviceable parts inside. And you can’t get the parts anyway.

Maybe computer was not a good example after getting the tools for the security screws, but you have to have access to the diagrams, charts, and parts. So on cars its everything from CRT screens (Zenith) to radios to washer motors, you have to have access to the manuals and parts. Often these are restricted to factory service centers. Then the black boxes in your car or navigation system. You are not the owner of the software. That right is retained by the developer.

I remember the wipers on my 59 Pontiac being on all the time. I stopped at the Pontiac dealer and he sold me a relay for a couple dollars. Took the motor apart and replaced the relay. Can’t do that now and couldn’t get the part anyway, but back then you could.

So some is engineered by making it impossible to disassemble and others is marketing scheme restricting access to the charts and parts. Maybe I forgot the question.


Well, @VDCdriver, I’ve been using such resources for years to source both parts and repair info for the meaningfully repairable things.

Still, go replace the deliberately breakable cord on MacBook power supply for example… the plastic covers are fused together and are damaged as you try getting in to replace the cor which once again made the way to wear down on the connection point, so that Apple can sell you a new unit.
In the end, I figured how to break these in a “controlled way”, but result is not exactly pretty.

Would it suffice as an example of where device is deliberately made irreparable ?

Yes, and we have only to look at the batteries of Apple’s i-phones in order to see why I would not own one. If the battery of virtually every other brand of cell phone is replaceable by the consumer, why did Apple design their phones so that the end-user can’t replace the battery?

In any event, this proves that some products are designed so that the consumer can’t repair them, but it fails to prove the “blanket” assertion that

I would not argue this “some vs. all” point.

And YES, I quit using all and any Apple devices after my iPhone was damaged by some software update resulting is such a fast battery draw at idle that its white case turned yellow and battery was a toast… the defect was acknowledged by Apple, yet once I went to their store for repair, they sent me to fly a kite since I was 1 (ONE!) day out of warranty.
I replaced the battery myself, but they “bricked” device on the very next software update since battery serial number was not matching the phone registered serial number.

I have (2) MacBook Pros that are about a 10 year old design. They both meet my needs perfectly well. But the main reason I keep them is I can easily disassemble and upgrade/repair them. My wife has a newer Macbook that’s literally glued together and/or not designed to be user serviceable.

Case in point: the hard drive crashed on one of my MBPs this past weekend. I was able to go get a new hard drive and have it all fixed in about a day. If I had to rely on the Apple store or some other repair place, especially in today’s climate, it’d probably still be dead today.

The push to be smaller/thinner/cheaper has come at the expense of repair-ability, and I also think it’s given people a disincentive to know how their products actually work. Which leads to dependence, I’m afraid.

Well something as seemingly simple as lawn equipment carburetors has become a hallmark of designed in failure with no possibility of owner repair. The fuel passages are permanently plugged and there are no mixture controls. As a result the ethanol plague cannot be remedied. Even the bowl type carburetors on larger engines are non serviceable. There wasn’t much that could be done to a B&S lawn mower engine to keep it running that I couldn’t do 60 years ago. And those engines often outlasted the housing. Today the failure rate is so great that the manufacturer eliminated the oil drain.

Back 60 years ago when I patched up old B&S engines I kept a McCollough chain saw running for several years with no serious repairs needed beyond replacing fouled plugs, worn out chains and bars and like the Postman that saw never failed to start and run. If a chainsaw needs a bar and chain these days it was the result of not being oiled.

An owner can easily REPLACE the carb.

I’m amazed this is still being fought. Decades ago the computer industry went through this. I thought it was settled back then.

The auto industry argument against the “Right To Repair” is so lame. You can still share the data needed for people to do their own repair without sharing any data that could be potentially dangerous. This is totally absurd, but expected since the people they are presenting this to are completely computer illiterate.

I priced the carburetor for my 11.5 hp B&S engine on line for $120 + $30 for some miscelaneous small parts and shipping but it was not the correct carburetor nor was the 1st one I ordered from an Amazon source. My second shot at Amazon resulted in one that fit and ran last summer but failed to run well enough to cut last week. I ordered a rebuild kit from B&S at $27 and got nothing but the rubber gasket for the needle/seat assembly. It would appear that B&S is building Bic engines.

I was always staying away from B&S engines and favored Honda ones.
You just made me NOT to revisit this decision.
By now, I collected a couple of Honda engines dumped to the attic which are still running strong, but the mower body completely rusted through, so I removed engines for spare parts… although at least twice I did not need these spare parts, as the engine outlived the mower.
I was always able to clean the carb just fine.


Honda engines are good. It’s what the rental store uses on their equipment a lot. Kohler and Wisconsin used to be the best engines but you have to remember now Kohler has dumbed down and some of their consumer grades like the Command are junk. I always liked B&S and they have been fine for me. There are different grades again though. My oldest is a two cylinder with over 600 hours. Compression good, valves fine, and just put a carb kit in that it really didn’t need. It does a lot of hard work. For hills though, having an oil pump and filter is a plus.