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Atlantic Racing Scene

Letter from the Editor

Right to Repair right now!

In business conversations these days you hear a lot about the word, “transparency.”

By Carter Hammet

The implication is that any transaction should be clear and accessible to all parties involved. Indeed, this has long been a hallmark of non-profit agencies.

It seems to this writer, that with some car manufacturers, “transparency” is all but absent. Recent congressional hearings in Washington have led to commitments by Toyota to finally disclose previously withheld data concerning vehicle recalls and remedies worldwide. The hearings also meant the release of papers from Toyota’s Washington lobbying office breast beating about $100 million saved by not instituting recalls.

This means that US consumers have a lot more protection. However, there have been no equivalent statements or commitments in Canada. With cars becoming more and more complex in nature, it’s critical that manufacturers make available information that is being withheld from mechanics. It’s unfortunate that a recent Right to Repair Bill was recently shuffled aside in favour of voluntary agreements amongst industry stakeholders.

This seems a polite way of passing the buck. The Automotive Industries Association of Canada has estimated that restrictions by Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) creates a market imbalance to the tune of an estimated $3.9 billion since it prevents independent repair service providers from accessing late model vehicles. Essentially, you own your car but the OEM holds the key

Imagine the problems that begin with not even being allowed to choose your own mechanic! Your car breaks down in the middle of nowhere and you’re forced to take it to the dealership you have no relationship with, which could be miles away. Doesn’t that just smack of avarice? Furthermore, Transport Canada, woefully under staffed, needs to have access to tooling, the right to recall and make voluntary compliance mandatory. Bottom line is, it will save lives and distribute dollars more evenly.

This issue is addressed quite bluntly by our resident pundit Dave Giles, who not only shares some of his own experiences, but also makes a stellar case out of the need for shops to make the necessary upgrades with computer technology that will allow them to provide better service. Elsewhere, John Cannell just as bluntly debates the merits of light duty lifts built abroad versus the home grown variety. Guess which side he stands closest to?

At the end of the day, it all comes down to loyalty. But is it loyalty to the customer or loyalty to the dollar? It’s an interesting question that just may require a little more transparency.!

Carter Hammett

Much, much more in the print addition of Auto Atlantic.
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