Aftermarket

Commentary: Leveling the Service Playing Field

October 2015, TruckingInfo.com - Editorial

by Denise Rondini, Aftermarket Contributing Editor - Also by this author

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Denise Rondini
Denise Rondini

The long waits at truck dealerships for service may soon be over. The recent signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Commercial Vehicle Solutions Network and the Truck and Engine Manufacturers Association (together with the Equipment and Tool Institute, the Auto Care Association, and Heavy Duty Aftermarket Canada) means fleets and independent repair garages will soon have access to service information for model year 2010 and later trucks and buses over 10,000 pounds sold in the United States and Canada.

“Essentially the MOU put [independent repair garages and fleets] on a level playing field with dealers with respect to access to information and repair capability that comes [from having] access to that information,” explains Marc Karon, chairman of the Commercial Right to Repair Coalition, sponsored by CVSN. “What this means to the fleet or truck owner is that they will have an expanded availability of places to take their trucks to get repaired.”

Several factors were likely responsible for the MOU, Karon believes. “There has been so much feedback from fleets about how long it is taking to get their vehicles repaired at dealerships because dealers are tied up with warranty work,” he says.

The passage of Right to Repair legislation in Massachusetts might also have contributed to engine makers being willing to talk, because as result of that legislation manufacturers would have had to develop two sets of information — one for Massachusetts and one for everyone else.

Once the engine makers agreed to talk, something they previously had not seemed willing to do despite efforts by the coalition, Karon says they were very interested in safety and how these changes would affect their customers. Karon says this made the negotiating process go smoothly.

Beginning in January 2016, fleets and independent repair garages will have access to wiring diagrams and will be able to reflash and reset on-board computers, Karon says.

Manufacturers will also provide as-built information to fleets and independent repair garages that will link to the vehicle’s VIN code to make sure the right part will be used to repair the vehicle. Specialized tools necessary to fix vehicles must also be made available to vehicle owners and independent repair garages.

However, manufacturers will not be required to provide unrestricted service information to reset an immobilizer system or security-related electronic module, reprogram the vehicle’s central processing unit or engine control unit, or to make changes to any vehicle or engine settings affecting emissions or safety compliance.

In addition, in 2018 each manufacturer will provide access to their onboard diagnostics and repair information using a non-proprietary vehicle interface and software that can be run on an off-the-shelf PC using an online connection.

It is important to note that the MOU does not compel the engine makers to share the information for free. Rather it calls for fair and reasonable costs for the information.

There is also a burden on fleets and independent garages to make sure their technicians are trained and qualified to use these specialized tools and perform the repairs they previously were unable to do themselves.

“In the hands of an untrained technician, the access to information can be a problem and lead to a lot of unexpected cost to the repair shop or owner, and to potential safety issues,” Karon says.

Fleets and independent garages have finally gotten access to the information they have been seeking for years. It’s now up to them to make the best use of it.

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