Technology could mean fixes for your car without ever visiting the mechanic

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Consumer expert Chelsey Hernandez looks at how automakers are changing the way you receive updates to your vehicle. (KTRK)

What if you never had to take your car to the dealership again? Major automakers are starting to roll out cars that can be repaired remotely. But that convenience also comes with risks.

Around 70 percent of car brands now offer some kind of wireless data connection. Many of them are able to send over-the-air, or OTA, updates for things like adding satellite radio channels or updating navigation maps.

Tesla's recent OTA update made an improvement to the car's braking system. Although the way this adjustment was made was unique, many vehicles need repairs, especially when they're involved in a safety recall.

Every year, automakers and the federal government issue hundreds of recalls. Because one in every four recalled vehicles on the road has not been fixed, there are likely millions of car owners who may not even realize their vehicles need repairs.

So could OTA updates be the future of car repair?

"When it comes to hardware stuff, think about it, suspensions, springs, transmissions, a lot of that hardware you're still gonna have to bring back to the dealer if you need an update," said Jake Fisher with Consumer Reports.

But Consumer Reports adds the prospect of this technology could be great. Being able to receive an OTA update that wouldn't require you to bring your car into a dealership could save owners time and save automakers money.

"Several automakers already have this capability and more are on their way, but there are risks. While they can update your car to make it better, they could also potentially have a mistake. They need to clearly communicate these changes to the drivers, because if something changes in the way you use your car, you need to understand that," said Fisher.

Ford and GM say some of their 2020 models will allow over-the-air updates that can upgrade a vehicle with new features or even remotely fix faulty software in cars.
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