With electric vehicles becoming increasingly popular, especially with soaring gas prices, industry experts say future repairs could be expensive and harder to access unless automakers provide information. on maintenance to independent mechanics.
Information on how to repair many electric vehicle parts is currently limited, with manufacturers preferring drivers to service their vehicles at dealerships, said Emily Chung, a self-employed mechanic and owner of AutoNiche in Markham, Ont.
“All manufacturers, their [fuel-powered] the engines are pretty much the same,” she said. “We understand the basics, it’s just the plumbing around it that’s different.”
“When it comes to EV technology, however, each manufacturer does it differently and there’s no standardized way to do it.”
That means mechanics like Chung can perform basic maintenance, like brake replacement and tire swapping, on electric vehicles, but not servicing the complex high-voltage systems that power electrified vehicles.
“It’s like telling me to operate on a body that I have no idea where the organs are,” she said.
Ultimately, this lack of information from automakers could mean less choice — and higher prices — for consumers taking their electric vehicles for annual checkups, she warned. Requiring a trip to the dealership for service could also prove tricky for people who live in rural parts of the country.
But there may be good reasons manufacturers choose not to disclose such information, said Peter Frize, professor of mechanical and automotive engineering at the University of Windsor in Ontario.
Cars are increasingly computerized, relying on software to control everything from air conditioning to throttle, he said. Cross country review. Self-driving and safety features make these systems even more complex.
“The number of lines of software code is much, much greater in a typical electric vehicle than in the space shuttle,” Frieze said.
“If you do the wrong thing with some of these repairs, the vehicle will behave erratically…. You could get unexpected results like unintended acceleration or impaired braking performance or impaired steering performance.”
In the event of an accident, he said automakers, rather than individual mechanics, could be held liable.
Right to repair legislation needed, says MP
The concerns highlight longstanding questions about who is authorized to repair the products consumers buy and own.
Tech companies, like Apple, have faced public and government scrutiny over the repairability of devices like smartphones and computers for years. The iPhone maker began offering official repair manuals and parts for consumers to repair some devices themselves earlier this year.
Chung says it’s a similar “huge problem” faced by car owners.
In Canada, there is no law requiring automakers to share documentation and diagnostic tools with third-party mechanics.
However, a existing voluntary agreement, concluded in 2009 by players in the automotive services sector and car manufacturers, provides independent garages with documentation and vehicle maintenance tools. Mechanics typically pay manufacturers for access to maintenance information.
But the agreement does not address many digital elements of modern vehicles.
“The Voluntary Agreement either needs to be changed or become a permanent solution because right now even groups like Tesla aren’t even signing up to the Voluntary Agreement,” said Brian Masse, MP for Windsor West. in Ontario.
Masse earlier this year proposed Right to Auto Repair legislation that would require major manufacturers to share the software and training they use to service their vehicles.
The MP says such legislation is important for public safety, as some drivers can put off repairs if their vehicles cannot be repaired by a local mechanic.
Mass legislation awaits a sponsor in the House of Commons.
Availability of information varies by car manufacturer
Tesla, for example, has has made available its diagnostic “toolbox” to third-party service providers for a fee, while documentation, including service manuals and wiring diagrams, is free. CBC Radio has reached out to Tesla for comment.
But the availability of service information varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, Chung said.
Manufacturers’ concerns about safety and security are reasonable, she said, but the mechanic believes they can work together to find solutions.
“We don’t want anybody getting into this system and getting involved, and then all of a sudden these cars are in dangerous situations,” Chung said. Verification.
She wants to see legislation that would require automakers to provide this information to independent mechanics. Without it, she fears that consumers will end up bearing the costs.
“At the end of the day, let’s be honest, consumers are going to pay for this,” Chung said.
Written by Jason Vermes with files from Steve Howard.