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lou's garage

Right to repair legislation has been reintroduced into Parliament again as a private member’s bill from Windsor West NDP member of parliament Brian Masse, a resurrection of his bill from 2009.

The goal of this proposed bill is to see that manufacturer-level tools, repair procedures and parts are available to all, not just the manufacturer. This is not the first time we have seen right to repair legislation proposed.

In Ontario, Bill 72 from 2019 was defeated upon its second reading. Opposition cited that any form of right to repair would compromise U.S. companies’ intellectual property rights, thereby affecting their ability and willingness to sell high-tech products in Ontario. It was speculated that they would not want to hand over codes and security information and that public safety might be compromised. The fear being that the then-prominent Ontario is Open for Business slogan would be marginalized, specifically because of right to repair legislation.

What piqued my interest in re-visiting this subject was when an article from a U.S. publication was forwarded to me from a family member. Massachusetts is the only state that has passed right to repair into law.

In what appears to be childish in nature, two manufacturers, Subaru and Kia, have turned off several key wireless features for their vehicles sold in that state. They claim that they don’t want to run into difficulty with the new laws, so in-car technology items such as wireless remote start, navigation, music and some roadside services amongst others are not available and can’t be turned on by the dealer at any point afterwards.

While I may not understand the whole issue from the manufacturer’s perspective, it seems highly counterproductive to imagine that if you are buying a brand-new Subaru or Kia in the state of Massachusetts, you are better off skipping your hometown dealer and going across the state line to make your purchase.

I understand that manufacturers want to protect their investments, but where do we draw line and at what cost to the consumer? Despite my layman’s understanding of finer political maneuverings, it seems that whether it be for a vehicle, farm tractor, cellphone or even refrigerator, being able to seek out repair alternatives is beneficial for all consumers.

U.S. President Joe Biden signed an executive order in 2021 promoting competition within the repair sector. This was specifically targeted at large manufacturers netting co-operation from Apple and Microsoft, easing the locking down of their information and repair procedures. Independent repair shops can now access this information. Regardless of where you stand on this issue, it will be interesting to see how this plays out from both sides of the issue.

Hi Lou,

I drive a 2011 Ford Flex. I have an intermittent problem with the horn not sounding. It does not sound when I push the centre of the steering wheel. If that was the only time, I would suspect a defective clock spring. But when I lock the vehicle remotely, the first push of the button on the key fob locks the doors and the second time is the audio confirmation and should sound the horn. It does not work then either. I checked the horn relay and that seems okay.

Thanks, Ray C.

Because you have already located the horn relay previously, then head back there. Listen closely and you should be able to hear the horn relay clicking when an assistant pushes the horn button on the steering wheel. This will suggest that the steering wheel contact, clock spring and Steering Column Control Module (SCCM) are operating properly. From there you still have multiple possible failure points, most notably the horn itself. If you are comfortable with this procedure, remove the horn from the car and apply battery voltage to the horn contact directly and confirm it is in good working order. Past this point, it is going to get complicated quickly as the Body Control Module (BCM) and multiple wiring connectors will be diagnostic hurdles that may require professional help.

Hi Lou,

I am planning to retire my 2000 Toyota Sienna minivan after many years of reliable service. I am looking at some costly repairs to the braking system and feel that the time has come to part with it. I am thinking of selling it to a scrap metal dealer. Can you give me some advice on the smartest way to prepare for this and get the most value out of this vehicle?

Thank you, Joe

Wow, a 22-year-old Toyota that is still on the road. Impossible right? Hardly, what a generation of indestructible vehicles they were. However, I am glad you are taking the looming repairs seriously and deciding to put safety first and have decided to retire it.

The most value can only be had by cutting, removing, and salvaging key components. For example, the catalytic converter is the most valuable piece of scrap on your vehicle. Converters for this age are generally worth almost double contemporary convertors and, depending on the ever-fluctuating market, will probably net you around $150-170. From there, the battery is worth $10 and radiator $5. Once you remove these items, the scrap metal vehicle collector paying cash will deduct dollars, basically giving you nothing for the remainder of the vehicle. See where I am going with this? Lots of work, for little return. Either scrap it as a complete vehicle, calling around for the best cash payout offered or donate it for a charitable tax receipt. You can always try and sell it privately, but I can’t imagine that will net you much more.

Lou Trottier is owner-operator of All About Imports in Mississauga. Have a question about maintenance and repair? E-mail, placing “Lou’s Garage” in the subject line.

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