Some U.S. farmers are buying hacker software from the Ukraine and Poland to hack into their own tractors’ computers to repair their machines, reports an online science website.
Motherboard.vice.com says farmers sign licencing agreements with some large tractor companies which state that farmers are not allowed to repair or modify their machines and security walls stop them from trying.
This means that only dealerships or authorized repair shops are allowed to make repairs but some frustrated farmers say it takes too long to wait for someone else to fix a problem. One farmer told Motherboard.vice.com that he’s charged US $230, plus $130 an hour, for a technician to drive to the farm with a USB stick just to authorize parts that need replacing.
In the meantime, the software required to access the computer on the tractor is available online if a farmer knows where to look. A Motherboard.vice.com writer signed up for an online forum that required him to order a $25 diagnostic from a third-party website. The writer was sent a code to join the forum instead of the diagnostic, where there were “dozens of threads from farmers desperate to fix and modify their own tractors.”
The story said that modifying the software is legal as long as the tractor meets emission standards. Eight U.S. states are considering right-to-repair bills so farmers can fix their own tractors.