Independent aftermarket companies, repair shops and their associations are continuing to push for what has been dubbed the "Right to Repair" bill, and they're gaining support in Congress.
The purpose of the bill is to force automakers to release some of the technical info needed to repair vehicles, so that the consumer isn't forced to have the work done at a franchised dealership service department. It's a commercial issue cloaked in consumerism.
So you can almost hear the squeals and charges of unfair competition from the owners of independent brake and muffler shops.
That's because Audi is about to become the fourth carmaker to offer ceramic brakes, which almost never need replacing during the life of the vehicle.
Ceramic brakes also can stop a vehicle in a much shorter distance and they weigh about half as much as conventional steel brakes, which helps fuel economy.
So what's the catch? They're expensive.
Ceramic brake technology was developed for the racetrack, where cost is less of a factor. But on the road, Ferrari, Porsche and Mercedes-Benz only put ceramic brakes on their most expensive performance models or charge as much as $15,000 for ceramic brakes that are optional equipment.
So, all the brake shops can relax. And for that matter, so can the brake specialists at dealerships.
Even at today's prices, $15,000 can buy a lot of brake jobs.
You may e-mail Edward Lapham at