The proposal would come at the urging of independent repair shops, rebuilders and replacement parts manufacturers who fear that proposed new emissions standards give original equipment manufactures a way to lock out independent competition.
A provision in the proposed 2004 emissions standards would require on-board diagnostic systems in vehicles under 14,000 lbs. GVW. According to the Heavy Vehicle Maintenance Group, EPA wants a similar requirement for heavier vehicles but a standard design is more complicated since heavy duty trucks are often assembled from components built by different manufacturers. But HVMG predicts that a solution isn’t far away.
Unless regulated, says HVMG, the vehicle manufacturers could encode information in OBD systems or require codes to access the systems. Service personnel without access to the codes and information would have a tough time diagnosing problems and making repairs -- if they could do it all. Moreover, the OBD systems contain specifications and operating parameters that a part or system must meet to work properly. Without that information parts manufacturers and rebuilders can’t be certain their parts won’t trigger a default.
HVMG says EPA’s solution to the access problem is a service information web site which would be available to anyone. EPA would establish standards and monitor the site to make sure all necessary information is provided. In addition to repair and service information, manufacturers would have to provide diagnostic information used in its proprietary diagnostic tools supplied to their dealers so that aftermarket suppliers could produce similar tools for non-dealers. Technology would also have to be developed that would allow independent shops to use any reprogramming tool to connect with any on board computer to make necessary repairs and corrections. According to HVMG, EPA expects to publish its proposed information access rule next spring.