A Closure Look: Question 4

Published: Nov. 6, 2023 at 7:00 PM EST
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AROOSTOOK COUNTY, Maine (WAGM) - Election coverage continues with question 4 the Right to Repair. This question is about whether motor vehicle manufacturers should be required to standardize onboard vehicle diagnostics and make access to vehicle systems available to owners and third-party independent shops for repairs.

Question 4 states, “Do you want to require vehicle manufacturers to standardize on-board diagnostic systems and provide remote access to those systems and mechanical data to owners and independent repair facilities?”

A Yes-vote supports the requirement of motor vehicle manufacturers to standardize onboard vehicle diagnostics and make vehicle systems access available to owners and third-party independent shops for repairs.

“Everybody should have the right to choose,” says Kendall Howlett, the Service Manager at VIP Tire and Services. “It shouldn’t be just locked out to the dealers. That’s not fair to people. That’s limiting choice.”

Robert Kilcollins agrees, stating, “Our constitution of the United States is the only thing that governs what we do. And when they start underlining specifics of duties that’s not right.”

Some people such as shop owner Colin Ferris agree with question four but also see potential safety risks if it passes. “If I have that availability and I go into some aspects of the vehicle that generally aren’t open to me and I alter that data, I could also be altering safety features of that vehicle,” Ferris says.

A No-vote does not support this as a requirement which means onboard vehicle diagnostics would not be made standardized and vehicle system access would not be made available to owners and third-party independent repair shops.

Newell Augur, the Treasurer of Automakers & Repairs/Vehicle Repair Choice, explains, “Each individual automaker creates cyber protection for the telematic systems in their car and the telematic systems and the systems that protect the driver and protect the car”

Augur says each individual dealer is in charge of providing their own telematics system currently. This means there are many different systems. Question four could change that, Augur explains. “One of the big problems with question four is that the folks who are pushing that want one centralized system,” says Augur. “And everyone is going to their access through this one system. That is a recipe for disaster”

Many shop owners such as Kilcollins and Howlett have continued to work on and fix up new vehicles. Both say they get the equipment and tools necessary to do so.

“It’s expensive to have the technology to work on these newer cars,” Howlett says. “Equipment gets more and more expensive every year. We pay for upgrades every year to keep up with what’s going on in the automotive field.”

Augur further explains, “The manufacturer is responsible to protect your data and so the system works. And each individual manufacturer does it differently, but they all do it very well. The whole purpose of cyber security protection is to protect you -- the consumer.”

For more information on question four, Folks can go online to Maine.gov Citizen’s Guide to the Referendum Election.