Who Should Have the Right to Repair Your Car?


My Lexus dealer wanted at least $1,100 to perform the 30,000-mile service on my wife’s 2004 RX 330.

I say “at least” because the service guy said the price could creep all the way up to $1,800. I nearly spit the contents of the “free” can of Coke they gave me right out my nose. I also took the keys back and tore out of the dealership.

Later that week I found a shop that checked and topped off the fluids and replaced the engine oil, oil filter, air filter, cabin air filter, and wiper blades for $130.

Sure, I didn’t get “genuine Lexus replacement parts” but I’m just fine going with Fram if it saves me a thousand dang dollars. I’m sure there are other benefits of returning to the dealer for service, but I won’t even try to justify spending a grand on them (though the Coke there is exceptionally good for some reason).

I mention this because I think auto manufacturers should make the same service technology they provide to their dealerships available to all independent shops. That way people like me could feel confident we’d get the same service for our cars when we didn’t choose to bring them back to the dealer.

Car buyers get screwed enough when buying a car from the dealer – we shouldn’t continue the pattern every time we need our cabin air filter changed.

Keeping repair costs fair is the goal of the Right to Repair Act, which is

bipartisan legislation that would require automakers to provide the same service information and tools to independent auto and maintenance shops, as well as to consumers, that the automaker dealership service centers receive.

That just makes sense, don’t you think? The more advanced our vehicles become, the easier it is for manufacturers and dealers to monopolize the service of our cars. That’s not a path I want to go down.

I’d rather support a local small business while saving money on maintaining my car than fork over thousands of dollars to a corporate dealership chain. Even if it means giving up my free can of Coke.

Assuming you’d receive the same service, would you rather take your car to an independent repair shop, a dealer, or do the maintenance yourself?


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