An update on the Right to Repair Act, and how fleets can help ensure OE repair information availability by reporting instances of non-compliance.
Technicians today know that physical tools are only part of what is needed to service and maintain vehicles. Equally important is the service information used to diagnose and repair an issue causing vehicle downtime.
Access to vehicle repair information
Fleets and independent repair shops have faced continual challenges gaining access to all of the information needed to properly service vehicles. Signed into state law in 2013, the Massachusetts Right to Repair Act looked to address these challenges. Right to Repair requires vehicle manufacturers to allow vehicle owners and aftermarket repair facilities access to the same diagnostic and repair information available to the manufacturer’s dealers.
A nationwide Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed in 2014 for light duty vehicles and in 2015 for heavy duty vehicles. The MOU provides Right to Repair coverage for all U.S. states, meaning all U.S. vehicle owners, independent repair shops, and fleets have the right to access OE-level repair information.
While these measures mark a huge victory for consumers, independent repair shops, and fleets, not all manufacturers have been quick to comply, or comply completely. The National Automotive Service Task Force (NASTF) – and other organizations – seek to rectify that.
According to the NASTF website, the organization was established to “facilitate the identification and correction of gaps in the availability and accessibility of automotive service information, service training, diagnostic tools and equipment, and communications.”
NASTF assists with facilitating collaboration between the vehicle service industry, the tool and equipment industry, and OEMs, but they rely on help from independent repair facilities and fleets as well to report non-compliance with Right to Repair. It is imperative for fleets to report when information is not available and the manufacturer is unable to provide it in order to ensure all OEs are in compliance. If one fleet or service provider is unable to access this information, it can be assumed others have also had trouble attempting to access that same information.
To gather these reports, NASTF has created a process called the Service Information Request (SIR). The organization is currently working to roll out a reporting tool, so fleets wishing to file a report should visit NASTF.org and register for a free account.
In the meantime, fleets can email individual reports to NASTF Executive Officer Donny Seyfer at email@example.com with the subject line “SIR Request” and include the following information:
- VIN (if available)
- Year, make, and model
- What you were trying to do when you ran into the issue
- What OE URL (web address) you used
- The OE support phone or email address you used (this helps OEs resolve issues internally)
- What kind of problem is this? (service information problem, tool-related problem, tool-related IT problem, vehicle security or reprogramming)
NASTF will then contact the vehicle manufacturer on your behalf in an attempt to get the issue resolved.
The future of Right to Repair
Taking Right to Repair a step further, legislation was introduced in Massachusetts in 2018 to expand the act to include the data vehicles generate and send via telematics.
“Starting with model year 2022, the proposed law would require manufacturers of motor vehicles sold in Massachusetts to equip any such vehicles that use telematics systems – systems that collect and wirelessly transmit mechanical data to a remote server – with a standardized open access data platform,” the final ballot summary stated. “Owners of motor vehicles with telematics systems would get access to mechanical data through a mobile device application. With vehicle owner authorization, independent repair facilities (those not affiliated with a manufacturer) and independent dealerships would be able to retrieve mechanical data from, and send commands to, the vehicle for repair, maintenance, and diagnostic testing.”
The measure was included on the 2020 ballot and approved, with the support of nearly 75 percent of voters.
This could impact the heavy duty MOU and would be important to fleets on multiple levels. For one, only the vehicle manufacturers currently have access to all of the data being produced by vehicles, whether it is through the telematics system or other advanced vehicle technologies, say experts in the heavy duty market at the Auto Care Association.
“While most commercial fleets have visibility into some of the information coming off of their assets, it is not always the case that they have access or control over that data,” they continue. “Furthermore, data security on embedded systems is not consistent across vehicle manufacturers, jeopardizing the availability of affordable diagnostic tools that need to interact with vehicle systems. This can also increase the vulnerability of commercial vehicles to malicious cyber attacks.”
These advances in the availability of vehicle repair data are important to all aspects of the vehicle repair industry. The first step for fleets is to do their part by reporting missing service information.
The audit is a key tool to know the overall status and provide the analysis, the assessment, the advice, the suggestions and the actions to take in order to cut costs and increase the efficiency and efficacy of the fleet. We propose the following fleet management audit.