Oh, now this I like….
Oh, now this I like.

Rachel Seymour, a college student from Portland, Oregon, has had her 2002 Kia Spectra serviced 12 times for a Check Engine light problem. Each time, she’s forced to take it to a Kia dealership, where a technician hooks her car up to a computer, runs a battery of tests and charges her $120 to diagnose and repair the same problem: a loose gas cap.

A bill floating through Congress could help people like Seymour by forcing automakers to share diagnostic codes with car buyers and independent mechanics. The Motor Vehicle Owners’ Right to Repair Act would give Seymour the means to determine whether the Check Engine light signaled another gas cap vagary or a major oil leak. The legislation would also allow Seymour to choose an independent — and possibly cheaper — repair shop instead of being forced to go to the dealership.

The secret decoder ring went out with Tom Mix (which was before my time, for the record). It’s been a scam from the get-go and I hope this legislation gets legs. Automakers are trying to launch a pre-emptive move by putting up the codes on the net, but not everyone is contributing.

Actually, if the legislation doesn’t pass, just the threat of it has brought about good results via the web site. Perhaps if folks buying cars based some of their decision on whether or not its codes were available, car makers would have to adapt to survive. An even better outcome; less government regulation, but better information for the consumer.

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