Ram’s Restricting Truck Repair through Software Locks

Ram’s Restricting Truck Repair through Software Locks

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Truck, freedom, ‘Murica. Image CC via Mark Sontok on Flickr, but identical to basically every truck ad ever.

There is perhaps no vehicle more iconic in representing the United States than the pickup truck. The images conjured in marketing for these trucks: open roads, freedom, and resilience.

But repairing Ram trucks isn’t as free as those images would suggest, according to YouTuber Scotty Kilmer, who said in a video posted to his YouTube channel that the company is scamming customers by locking codes and information behind paywalls.

Ram, along with Dodge and Chrysler, introduced a secure vehicle gateway protocol in 2018, meaning that only registered mechanics or dealership mechanics are able to clear or reset diagnostic trouble codes. These software locks have essentially the same consequence as parts pairing restrictions in smartphone and appliance repair.

These restrictions make repairs more expensive and less convenient for consumers. They also reduce competition in the repair market, which can lead to higher prices and lower-quality repairs. The main motive is money, says Kilmer. By restricting repair to a subset of “authorized” repairers of their choosing, companies are able to manipulate markets to ensure they are reaping profits—a principle that extends far beyond just cars.

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