Right to Repair Passes in Massachusetts
An Open Letter to Our Customers
On August 8, 2012 Governor Duval Patrick signed a compromise version of Right to Repair into law, H4362. This is a very good bill and great news for the consumer and independent repair shops alike.
As you may already know, Bill and BC Auto has been an ardent supporter and spokesperson for the Right to Repair legislation filed in MA. For the last 6 years, Bill and various trade and consumer groups such as AAA have worked tirelessly to get legislation passed and it has finally happened.
Even with Right to Repair a reality in MA, we still want the ballot question to pass in November. There are provisions in the Ballot Question that are more stringent than the law that was passed and should move to strengthen what we consider a good new law.
So to keep and enhance this bill, we ask that you and your family to "Vote YES on Question ONE, Availability of Auto Repair Information" (Right to Repair) on November 6, 2012.
What does Right to Repair Legislation do?
- First, it is a compromise bill, meaning that the independent repair shops, dealers and car makers all agree.
- It works on cost containment, the bill provides for a cost sensitive usage of data and tools, meaning lower costs to us and ultimately to you, the consumer.
- It works toward a "universal" tool and laptop based system as well as internet based repair information for all to access including car owners.
- Mostly, it keeps dealers from developing a more competitive edge with any new and emerging technologies - that could lock out access to smaller shops in the future.
- This bill does so much, that new car dealers actually supported the bill in its final form while some car companies were still opposing it.
But overall, we expect most car makers to begin the transition to the new requirements sooner rather than later making life better for everyone involved.
Bill and Peggy Cahill
BC Auto Repair
Can I drive my car with that light on?
It boils down to three rules - Red, Yellow or Green (and Blue too).
As drivers, we are all familiar with traffic signals. Green means go, yellow means caution and red means stop. The little known secret is that the car manufacturers use the same colors to mean the same thing when it comes to dashboard indicator lights.
Often a customer will call and tell us a dashboard light is on – displaying a symbol or icon. And the number one question is, "Can I drive my car?" The truth is your car is already trying to tell you whether you can drive it or not, because our first question is, "What color is the light?"
Red means STOP. Red indicator lights are for dangerous or serious situations where accidents, personal injury or vehicle damage can occur. This can be associated with brake warnings, where you could lose your brake pedal. Or a red battery light that can leave you stranded. Or low oil pressure lights, and temperature lights can indicate that engine damage is imminent. Other red indicators are seat belt lights and air bag lights that indicate a probable failure where you could suffer an injury if you are in an accident. So , the red light means it is time to stop and pull over and assess the situation.
Yellow means CAUTION. A yellow light means that the vehicle probably will operate normally until you get to a service facility. Most yellow indicators are triggered by a computer, and the car's computer is trying to tell you that it "sees" a problem. An engine's computer uses the "Check Engine" light to warn of a failure. And modern automotive systems have ways of "going around" specific failures and make the engine run fairly normal. Even though not all systems can do this, it is required by the EPA to have clean air standards for the engine computers. However, if the Check Engine Light flashes (like a directional) then it should not be driven. This indicates catalytic converter damage is taking place as you drive.
Other yellow indicators can indicate a fault with security systems, Anti-lock Brake Systems (ABS), Electronic Stability Control (ESC), and Electronic Traction Control (ETC) systems, as well as some others. Most systems are passive, meaning they are only active in an extreme situations.
For example, if your car is skidding, the ABS takes over the brakes until the skid stops. If the system is disabled, your regular brakes will still work normally, so it is like driving a car without an Anti-lock Braking system, something a lot of learned to drive without. So take heed of the indicator and drive carefully because your ABS system is probably disabled. The same would hold true to traction control (ETC), stability control (ESC) and so on.
It is not uncommon for a yellow ABS, ESC and or ETC light to come on at the same time as a red battery/alternator indicator. These systems use a lot of battery power, and a charging system problem is detected, these systems automatically shut themselves down and turn on the light, telling you the system is off. Additionally, any light that flickers for a second is usually a tell-tale of something that may fail, just not yet.
Green means GO. Most people say they have never seen a green dash indicator, but they do exist. Green dashboard indicators are most commonly found in diesels and hybrids. Some diesels have glow plugs (instead of spark plugs), which generate heat in the cylinder with the key in the on position before the engine is started. So when the right temperature is reached, a green start light illuminates indicating it is now okay to start the diesel engine. In the case of hybrids, the green indicator is telling you the powertrain is ready to move the car (even without the gas engine running).
And since we are talking colors, let's not forget blue. Blue is exclusively used for the high beam indicators.
Last but not least are the icons, these are the confusing international symbols we all have a hard time recognizing (it looks like a horseshoe, teakettle, etc.). Best case here is to look through an owner's manual and get familiar with them. By the way, any manual can do, they all use similar icons so it is pretty easy to guess an oil can, engine block, battery, ABS or tire on your car once you've seen an example. And feel free to look at your own car. Just turn the key on, without starting the engine and all the lights will cycle on (some will go out). But do it a few times and get familiar with your icons.
The bottom line is, when in a pinch and driving in heavy traffic, the color is the first clue of what to do next.