Independent shops have seen limits in what they can do when it comes to today's heavily computerized vehicles.  Photo courtesy Wheeltime Network

Independent shops have seen limits in what they can do when it comes to today's heavily computerized vehicles. Photo courtesy Wheeltime Network

The aftermarket repair industry and truck and engine makers have reached an agreement on the sharing of heavy-duty vehicle service information, which will give truck owners more options for diagnosing and repairing today's heavily computerized commercial vehicles.

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, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding addressing the availability of service information for model year 2010 and later trucks and buses over 10,000 pounds sold in the United States and Canada. 

The landmark agreement will ensure that vehicle owners and independent repair facilities have access to the OEM-controlled service information, tools, and parts that they need to safely and properly repair commercial vehicles. The MOU also memorializes the current industry practice of providing diagnostic tool information to third-party aftermarket tool manufacturers, which gives owners service options when maintaining or repairing their vehicles.

"With today’s complex, computer-controlled heavy-duty vehicles, having access to the correct information and latest diagnostic tools is essential to being able to complete repairs for our customers," explains Marc Karon, chairman of the Commercial Right to Repair Coalition sponsored by CVSN and representing independent service providers. "The MOU addresses our need for reasonable access to OEM service information and diagnostic tools."

The problem has been that independent repair shops, and even many of the fleets that own the trucks, were not allowed access to some of the information they needed in order to diagnose and repair trucks, especially electronic engines. For many repairs, truck owners were forced to go to the dealer network. Yet dealers don't have the capacity to handle everybody's business at once, and fleets often complain that backups at dealers lead to excessive downtime.

OEs and dealers have expressed concerns about proprietary information being used to reverse engineer inferior replacement parts, as well as concerns about whether independent shop technicians are properly trained and have the right equipment to correctly do these repairs.

Under the terms of the MOU, the participating industry associations will work together to monitor the exchange of service information and address any information access issues, with the goal of helping to ensure that vehicles are properly and safely maintained with the correct parts and tools.

Groups pushing for this access have lobbied for federal and state legislation that would require it, with the most notable success in Massachusetts. That led to a potential for a patchwork of different regulations across the country.

“The MOU establishes a workable approach to providing independent service providers with access to information they need to repair heavy-duty vehicles properly and safely,” said Jed Mandel, EMA President. “The MOU was developed to address concerns expressed by independent service providers that they have better and more-timely access to OEM-controlled information. The MOU helps ensure that access, thereby eliminating any need for state, provincial, or federal regulation.”

Another concern was that, as was the case in Massachusetts, legislation regarding heavy trucks was often lumped together with that addressing the issue in auto repair, typically under the banner of "Right to Repair."

“One of the significant benefits of the MOU is that it addresses the unique characteristics of the heavy-duty vehicle manufacturing industry as well as the special needs of independent heavy-duty repair shops,” Mandel explained. “With that accomplished, we can avoid a patchwork and potentially disruptive effort to regulate service information through government action.”  

The Equipment and Tool Institute called the MOU "a viable solution for ETI members, the OEMs, and independent repair facilities and their customers. It is great to see the positive effects when the aftermarket and manufacturers work together on a common resolution in an effort to eliminate the need for legislative mandates,” said Greg Potter, ETI’s executive manager. 

For in-depth background on this topic, read our 2008 feature, Diagnostic Dilemma

About the author
Deborah Lockridge

Deborah Lockridge

Editor and Associate Publisher

Reporting on trucking since 1990, Deborah is known for her award-winning magazine editorials and in-depth features on diverse issues, from the driver shortage to maintenance to rapidly changing technology.

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