Wrenching on your own car is a proud tradition dating back to the birth of the automobile itself. But now the automotive industry is trying to prevent us from doing our own wrenching by citing, of all things, copyright law.

According to this article, automakers and lobbyists are citing the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA), which was originally created to stop you from sharing Metallica, Top Gear, and the Fast and Furious movies online (we know how well that worked). They claim that the software that has infiltrated practically every area of the modern car is the manufacturer’s intellectual property, and accessing or modifying that software is, or should be, illegal. They also claim that cars are now so sophisticated that the shadetree mechanic is basically too dumb to understand them. How convenient, if not rude.

Gone are the days of taking your car to the dealer for a “check engine” light and paying them $90 to plug it in, turn the light off, and say “uh, I dunno.” I recently bought a wireless OBD2 scanner for less than $20, and the DashCommand app for my iPhone for another $10. Diagnosing and clearing my own codes is just a tiny fraction of what I can do now. I can add gauges, monitor tons of engine data in real time, optimize my fuel economy, record 1/4 mile runs, or even record my laps around a race track and analyze them later. This is all by just reading OBD2 data, and using some of the phone’s built-in functions, like accelerometers and GPS. I’m not even writing any data, though that’s easy enough to do, too. An ECU reflash to cure my BRZ’s infamous midrange torque dip is just an online order away from numerous sources.


But all that could go away if the automakers get what they want. Read the full article here.