Automotive & Aftermarket News / News & Car Culture

Should Tinkering with Your Car be Against the Law? Some Automakers Think So

If you haven’t heard by now, there’s a battle being waged on who should be able to modify or repair your vehicle.

On one side, automakers are supporting provisions in a copyright law that could prohibit home mechanics and even mom-and-pop repair shops from modifying vehicles. On the other side, performance enthusiasts and hot rodders are looking to preserve their right to tinker.

We urge you to further educate yourself on the issue by reading this recent story from Motor Trend or this one from Autoblog.

Essentially, the U.S. Copyright office is trying to decide whether the law–a wide-reaching law called the Digital Millennium Copyright Act–protects the computer systems in today’s cars as intellectual property of the automakers. Lobbyists for a number of automakers say these computer systems are too complex for consumers to service and modifications could even lead to potential safety issues. Automakers also say altering ECUs could cause future cyber security vulnerabilities.

Home enthusiasts have been modifying ECU’s via performance chips and modules for years. In the process, they’ve boosted horsepower, improved fuel economy, and enhanced vehicle performance without problems. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a non-profit organization that advocates for individual rights in the digital world, characterizes the provisions as simply an attempt to force consumers to have their vehicles fixed at dealerships or preferred repair shops.

A final decision on the potential provisions is expected by mid-year.

Learn more about the Digital Millennium Copyright Act here.

And stay tuned for more news and information on a debate that could potentially alter the future of hot rodding and tuning.




  1. Go ahead and lock up the repair on these new cars………people will stop buying them and will buy the oldies but goodies that can be worked on easily. And by themselves or who they choose to pay, not who someone else chooses for them to pay.

    • I already started. I saw this coming many years ago. Honestly…..who opens up their hood anymore to show their friends? The underhood area of your car USED to be a point of pride, now it’s just a maze of tubing, wires, and monochromatic ilk. I refuse to own ANY vehicle made after 1980 anymore. They’re too expensive to own and work on. Even with all the amenities and creature comforts, safety devices and such, you just about have to earn a “6-digit” annual salary just to pay for them. Foolish!

  2. I think we should be able to do what we want we paid for the vehicle. It’s now our property or they should have to 100% warranty the vehicle for the life of the original owner

  3. So you’re saying that we should shell out 60K for something that we can only drive…

  4. I think that this is rather sad you should be able to play around with the motor in your car or truck there is an entire industry that employs millsons of people, what I think they should do is make it so only a licensed mechanic is the only person who can buy saftey parts ie… brakes steering parts ball joints and so forth

    • So those of us that have the technical knowledge to repair ourselves still cannot. And who is to say the “licensed mechanic” you speak of will do these safety repairs correctly?

      Kindly open your eyes to the real world where people have rights, not big business pushing their selfish agenda down the consumer’s throat to take money. There are times where I have taken the car to the dealer for some service specific maintenance and repairs, but those times are few and far between.

    • Joe Viggiani says:

      Oh, so those “skilled highly trained technicians” over at Chrysler, that couldn’t fix the transmission in my car SEVEN times, are better than my local guy who got it right the first time??

  5. Who had the idea about that? Struck him with a bus. Never heard such nonsense before!

  6. Bruce Henderson says:

    and tell….who and the hell would ever know that someone had their hands on their car…..pound sand auto makers…….remember the public consumers made you who you are ….don’t push your luck or your sales could really plummet over this trick…..100 % warranty which includes all servicing such as oil and filter changes, tires ….. bumper to bumper for life to the original purchaser before you get my money…..I have had crappy work done at all the big 3 dealership service departments and I will be damned if I will give them !00 bucks or so an hour plus 17 % for shop supplies to screw the job up and then be so frustrated that I get tired of taking it back , that I end up fixing it at home myself…..Remember this Auto Makers…..the money in MY pocket is MINE not yours so keep out.

    • William Davi says:

      I work at a Ford Dealership and your 100% right. Labor rates are thru the roof. But the guy working on your vehicle is nothing more than a glorified oil changer. More than likely doesnt have the certification or the know how to be working on your car.

  7. Screw the automakers their new tech cars and trucks suck stupid safety crap for all those non driving asses out there. I will modify anything I want legally or illegally. Try to stop me.

  8. scott gronlund says:

    i am not a mechanic or have any certificaion to do this. i work on a 35 ford truck, built 2 of my own drag cars, 97 s10 and 220 inch rear engine dragster and perform my own regular maintainence … what clogs up my drive way, any thing newer than a 2010 from any auto maker….

  9. I’m curious how “modders” can get away with hacking into games stored on their own computer, but we can’t alter the programming of our vehicles

  10. I will keep driving my M1009 for ever, till I pass. You can keep your computers on wheels. I’ll own pre 1980 cars. You the government, didn’t get all the vehicles with your stupid clunker buy back program. I own tools and I an not afraid to use them.

  11. They can pass all the laws they want I’ll keep building and modifying my cars or anyone’s car that ask me to I’ve been doing this for 25 years the can all go to hell trying tell what I can and can’t do to my my own property.

  12. rrrshockey says:

    My old truck is looking better all the time. No computer to monitor where I drive, how I drive and if I tinker under the hood. Auto makers can keep their “Big Brother” on wheels!

  13. John Phillips says:

    If the auto industry proceeds on this track, then they should also provide an automobile without computers. I see that Tesla is opposed to such law….. I have a Model A Ford 1928, never had a recall and it never will….. also a 1967 Chev C-10 pickup…. no computers, no smog requirements, and runs great…… this is due to my tools, not GM nor Fords……

  14. Focke-Wulf190 says:

    4.28.15. I recall GM building the 3100/3400 & 3800 engines with substandard plastic L.I.M. Gaskets, & they failed on almost every vehicle they were installed in! Not to mention the DexCool fiasco, 150K/5yrs! A slick marketing ploy! It took the aftermarket to correct the issues. Oh & the stripped rocker arm threads in the aluminum heads on the 3100/3400 V6. And now they want to pull this, what nerve! The fore mentioned engines can get impressive miles if your willing to put forth the effort to fix the weak points. When you have the federal government propping up the industry with cash for clunkers, at the expense of the used car market, the people of lesser income were the big losers! All they did was upset the balance of new vs used cars, historically! Way to go congress.

  15. I think if things like this keep getting brought up we will have to start another revolution in order to show how serious we Americans are about keeping our Freedoms, Nobody will ever tell me what i can or can’t do with something I own!!!

  16. Simon Ramirez Jr says:

    LOL! I don’t drive 1) new cars or 2) cars with computers. Suck it automakers.

  17. I think this is all BS. We paid for the vehicle, so it’s our property. Like the man said. Give us a lifetime warranty. The auto dealers just want to make all the money. If this happens, the labor cost will go up to $300.00 per hour. That’s what they want.

  18. Pingback: Massachusetts Votes to Expand "Right to Repair" Law - OnAllCylinders

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