Repair

Subaru deactivates StarLink in Massachusetts to comply with right to repair


Image of article titled Subaru Deactivates StarLink In Massachusetts To Comply With Right To Repair

Photo: Subaru

The right to redress has been a major debate for years, spanning industries like electronic, cars, and same tractors. Massachusetts voters weighed in on the discussion last year by passing one of the nation’s strongest rights to repair laws – requiring car manufacturers to make their telematics data easily accessible by third-party repair shops. The automakers claimed the mandate was impossible to meet, but Subaru appears to have found a way around it – by completely disable StarLink for vehicles delivered to Massachusetts.

There’s a lot going on here, so let’s break it down. We will start with the vehicle’s telematics data, which is In information recorded by the car and sent wirelessly to the manufacturer or dealers. This is increasingly used in diagnostics, with cars passing information about faults and malfunctions directly to a local dealership, where this data can be used to troubleshoot the problem. Sounds good, doesn’t it?

Image of article titled Subaru Deactivates StarLink In Massachusetts To Comply With Right To Repair

Photo: Subaru

Unfortunately, there is a downside to this kind of readily available diagnostic data – namely, who is accessible To. If only dealers can read this information, only they can repair cars. It eliminates third-party repair shops or homeowners looking to grease their joints, and it forcing people to return to dealerships for repairs. This is ooften a costly undertaking for the owner.

Massachusetts law attempted to change that, not by banning telematics but by requiring it to be open to owners and independent stores. Manufacturers and dealers can still collect data on cars, but they’re not the only ones who can read it. The bill was a godsend for the right to fix movement, but the dealerships and automakers fought tooth and nail against it.

This large touchscreen loses great functionality in Bay State

This large touchscreen loses great functionality in Bay State
Photo: Subaru

The Alliance for Automotive Innovation, a group that represents nearly all automakers in the United States, argued that manufacturers cannot open their telematics systems to the public. When the state attorney general suggested shutting down the systems altogether, the IAA said it would be a “practical impossibility”To do this only on cars in Massachusetts.

And yet, that’s exactly what Subaru did. Any Subaru vehicle sold in the state, starting in model year 2022, will have its StarLink telematics system disabled. The company basically took its bullet and went home – if it can’t have exclusive access to the repair data, then anybody gets access.

The window sticker of a mass-delivered Subaru Outback

Of course, telling the state government that it’s impossible to do something that you then have to do immediately is a bit of a legal faux pas. The Massachusetts attorney general seeks to use Subaru’s decision as evidence in the IAA’s lawsuit against the state, to undermine its position that compliance with the 2020 law is impossible.

While Subaru has technically complied with the letter of the law, since their vehicles in Massachusetts no longer have a telematics system that Needs to open up, they certainly disobeyed his spirit. Rather than simplifying repairs for owners and independent shops, Subaru simply made it harder for their own dealers. It’s an immature move, but it does technically level the playing field – reducing them rather than making things better for everyone.


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