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You'll likely pay more and wait longer for repairs to your electric car

auto repair
Automakers have to give dealers and repair shops access to the info needed to fix their cars. EVs might change that.Fabian Sommer/picture alliance via Getty Images
  • Automakers have to give dealers and repair shops access to the info needed to fix their cars.

  • The dawn of higher-tech cars, especially EVs, throws a wrench in that.

  • If car-buyers can only go to a dealer for service, that might mean longer waits and more expense.

Drivers might have no choice but to go to their dealer for electric vehicle service and repair — and that could mean longer waits and the death of their independent mechanic shop.

Right now, automakers have to provide access to information on how to fix internal combustion engine vehicles not just to their dealer service centers, but also to independent repair shops and other aftermarket businesses. This allows customers the right to repair their cars and customize them in a way they deem fit, at a competitive price. (Think Apple's self-service repair program.)

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But that could change if automakers get their way, which has right-to-repair advocates pushing for new laws to keep independent options for customers as vehicle technology advances and EVs come into play.

EVs may not need as much maintenance and service as gas-fueled vehicles, but they will still require certain work and collision fixes. But the requirements that currently ensure carmakers detail how to go about gas-powered car repair don't completely apply to new vehicle tech.

What's going on with vehicle repair today?

A vehicle's on-board diagnostics port is useful to grab info from, but with the dawn of newer vehicles and EVs — for which automakers are starting to rely on more over-the-air software updates — mechanics also need access to more telematics info, proponents of new legislation argue.

Major US automakers, through the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, oppose this, saying the data needed to make repairs is already readily available, access to further telematics data is unnecessary, and that this could even open up cybersecurity concerns as cars are more electronic and connected than ever.

But some fear that without automakers unlocking that information, car-owners could essentially be locked into only using their franchised dealers with access to that data.