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Subaru buyers caught in right-to-repair fight over its cars

Right To Repair Subaru
Posted at 11:13 AM, Feb 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-23 13:13:31-05

Driving a rugged Subaru through snowy weather is a rite of passage for some New Englanders, whose region is a top market for the Japanese automaker.

So it was a surprise when Massachusetts dealerships started selling Subaru's line of 2022 vehicles without a key ingredient: in-car wireless technology that connects drivers to music, navigation, roadside assistance, and crash-avoiding sensors.

A woman who traded in her 2019 Subaru for a brand new Subaru Ascent told the Associated Press that "the dealer didn’t bring it up,” and now she has none of the features, including remote start and locking features, which she had on her previous Subaru.

Subaru and Kia disabled their "telematics" systems rather than run afoul of a voter-backed law to give independent mechanics more access to a car's repair data.

It mirrors a broader battle over who has the "right to repair" increasingly complex electronic products -- from iPhones to tractors.

The AP reported that automakers have been fighting in court since a ballot passed two years ago that would allow car owners and their mechanics to look into the vehicle's online data.

In the lawsuit, the automakers argue that "the timeline was unreasonable, the penalties too onerous, and that automatically sharing so much driver data with third parties presented cybersecurity and privacy risks," according to the news outlet.