MERCEDES TRP - During the NASTF Spring 2015 General Meeting, March 19 at the Meadowlands Expo Center in New Jersey, a special session by Dan Selke, Safety Supervisor at Mercedes Benz USA, will reveal the details of the newly updated theft-Relevant Parts program published by MBUSA on January 30, 2015. Read more in the press release HERE.
COLLISION PANEL NAMED FOR NASTF@NORTHEAST2015 - Five panelists and a discussion moderator have been named for the featured presentation in the March 19 NASTF Spring 2015 General Meeting in Secaucus, NJ. Teresa Bolton (ASE) will moderate a discussion of the topic, “Validation of Collision Repair Workmanship: What should OEMs consider? What do shops hope to avoid?”
Farzam Afshar (VeriFacts), John Bosin (I-CAR), Aaron Clark (Assured Performance), Gary Ledoux (American Honda) and Gary Wano (G.W. & Sons Auto Body) will serve as panelists in the discussion, which will seek to discover (1) what may be the most important elements for an OEM to consider when adopting a quality control program and (2) what may concern shops in working under the various OEM strategies.
The collision panel discussion is early on the agenda for the NASTF Spring 2015 General Meeting, which begins at 1pm eastern in the Meadowlands Expo Center, Secaucus, NJ. Pre-registration for the NORTHEAST 2015 Show can be found at www.aaspnjnortheast.com. While pre-registration is not required to attend the NASTF General Meeting, it is appreciated and will serve to assist in planning. Register at www.nastf.org/Spring2015RegForm. Information about NASTF General Meetings is always available at www.nastf.org/GeneralMeetings. PRESS RELEASE HERE
PROGRAMMING FILE DOWNLOADS: Many OEMs provide the programming file in a zip format which requires extraction (unzipping). The download may contain instructions (usually in the form of a ReadMe file), application, calibration and other such files. If the OEM zip file is not extracted using a self-contained extraction tool, techs should be certain their PC has an upzip extraction software installed before attempting the download.
AUDI/VW - VIDEO: Reflashing demo of a 2013 Passat (9 min)
HONDA has introduced collision instruction videos on-line at i-car.com/hondatraining. These modules are unique in that they are the first to be developed by an OEM, and delivered through I-CAR.
The first module, Using Honda and Acura Service Information (HON10e) is an on-line course educating students about the importance of using factory service information. It provides information on Honda and Acura publications and how to access them.
The second module, Honda and Acura High-Strength Steel Repair (HON11e) provides an overview of the different grades of high-strength steel used in Honda and Acura vehicles and approved repair methods.
Both courses, as well as additional American Honda courses still in development, will be required for shops wishing to apply for and participate in the soon-to-be launched ProFirst Certified body shop program.
MERCEDES published a significant revision to their theft-relevant parts (TRP) program on January 30, 2015. NASTF awaits clarification from MBUSA on six elements of the new ordering policy and ordering form currently available on their technical website, www.startekinfo.com. Most appreciated by independent technicians will be the release to NASTF VSPs of the 722.9 transmission valve body and TCM repair kit (Pictured right. Click to view enlarged image).
MITSUBISHI - In resolving NASTF-SIR#618, Mitsubishi informs NASTF that the flyer (https://mitsubishitechinfo.com/epacarb/MI14-34.pdf) for the MUT-III under the SPECIAL TOOLS tab of their technical website, https://mitsubishitechinfo.com, indicates a part number for the subscription, MIT540031-AM-SUB, which is used for renewal after the annual subscription expires.
VOLVO - Most annual subscription options on the Volvo technical website have been temporarily discontinued until release of the new VIDA 2015 information product expected before July. Three-day and monthly subscription options are not affected in this transition period. There are several price options during this transition period as shown on the VOLVO subscription page of their website.
Windows Based Diagnostic Platforms Present Special Challenges for Automotive Technicians
By Kurt Immekus, Service Publications Regulatory Specialist for Volkswagen of America
The current trend toward using windows based laptop diagnostic platforms creates an interesting challenge to the industry. Automobile sophistication has resulted in a need for combining diagnostic software with the functionality of a laptop computer. The laptop concept itself can be challenging to technicians and to OEM support networks that have to support it. Not only do support networks have to help diagnose the car, they now have to double as PC technicians.
Development of diagnostic platforms can take up to 5 years. In the last five years the public went from a Windows 2000 operating system to XP, Vista (which was a non-starter) to now Windows 7. Normal software functions can be inhibitors or in some cases fatal to vehicle communications. Items like screen savers, power settings, firewalls, pop-ups, virus protection and network settings can create support issues which have to be identified and solved.
To eliminate many of these issues OEMs often prefer dedicated laptops with special hardware configurations and vehicle interface devices that are designed for that particular laptop.
Configuring a “platform” in a specific way eliminates a lot of variables. All the applications are then consistent and behave in a consistent fashion. In some cases the hard drive is partitioned in a certain way to make “recovery” efforts easier in the event of system crash. Durability is another reason for commonality. You need a laptop that is durable enough to survive in an auto shop environment.
Another challenge can be internet tool sale sites. There are devices for sale online that claim to be OEM devices that aren’t. They may look the same but will not function in the US market, or at all. The sellers are not familiar enough with the programs to know the regional differences. Pirated software is also an issue. Some shop owners who are looking for bargains fall victim to these “deals”.
Shop Internet connections are often an afterthought. Examples include: Ethernet cable running across the floor, a wireless hub somewhere in another part of the building, a bundled set-up with voice lines included; add cable TV for the waiting room over that line as well. It’s often a question of bandwidth. Local firewalls can also interrupt communication. Internet speeds can vary greatly between providers, and there can be variations based on usage that users may not even be aware of. A provider will, as needed, slow down the speed based on demand. One shop filed a feedback based on loss of communication using a cell phone internet connection. They were programming a module and lost their cell phone call, killing the module.
With some bluetooth VCIs, separate hardware and software configurations are needed. There is a limited communication range (30ft.), RF, WLAN 802.11 (2.4GHz). There are concerns about interference from microwave ovens, remotes and other transmitters in the immediate area.
Loading specific diagnostic software can, in itself, create issues. There are drivers included that don’t always work the first time for a variety of reasons. Even laptops from the same manufacturer can behave differently. There can be conflicts with other applications loaded on the machine. This is another reason why these units should not be used for other purposes. If the software has to be downloaded from the internet, file size can be an issue. File sizes vary from 30 to 100 megabytes. Sometimes it is a matter of hours, not minutes and a lot of things can happen. If the cable is accidentally disconnected in the middle of a download, the files are corrupted and you have to start over. We (VW) suggest software updates after hours for this reason. Momentary power failures have the same effect. There can be issues with support software levels like JAVA and Adobe. They are needed for a lot of applications but levels can be specific. Automatic updates can cause an application that worked fine yesterday to be dysfunctional today.
Technicians have the challenge of changing vehicle technology, and now they face the challenge of developing computer skills. They have to know how to place files on a drive. They have to know how to install and configure security features, license files and system preferences. They have to know how to read and follow step by step computer configuration instructions. This requires knowledge of computer terms and windows functions at greater than a common “user level”. The supervisory hierarchy varies greatly from shop to shop. Tester software updates and maintenance could be assigned to a dedicated IT professional or passed off from one tech to another and end up with the first year apprentice/Lube Tech. There is a strong business case for an IT specialist at a shop or at least access to a local IT service network.
The vehicle today is more complex, and the skills needed to use the diagnostic tools are just as challenging.
Collision Repair Committee - In their January 21st quarterly conference call, the CRC outlined their concept for a special feature to be part of the March 19 NASTF Spring General Meeting. See the headline above for the COLLISION PANEL NAMED.
View information about CRC on the NASTF Collision Repair Committee page at www.nastf.org/Committees/Collision. Anyone wanting to join the CRC should send their request to email@example.com.
The next conference call for the CRC is set for Wednesday, April 22, 2015. An email invitation with web and dial-in information will be sent to Committee members of record at least five days in advance.
Communications Committee - If you would like to join the Communications Committee, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to visit the NASTF Communications Committee page at www.nastf.org/Committees/Communications.
The next conference call for the Communications Committee is set for Wednesday, March 11, 2015. An email invitation with web and dial-in information will be sent to Committee members of record at least five days in advance.
Education Committee - In their January 28 quarterly conference call, the Education Committee decided to begin tackling the multi-faceted OEM guidelines/best practices project with a focus first on the issue of licensing OEM training resources for use by 3rd party educators. In addition, the committee is advertising for additional OEM representatives to join the committee. The meeting minutes and the committee membership email are available on the NASTF Education Committee page.
Visit the NASTF Education Committee page at www.nastf.org/Committees/Education. Anyone wanting to join the Education Committee should send their request to email@example.com.
The next conference call for the Education Committee is set for Wednesday, April 8, 2015. An email invitation with web and dial-in information will be sent to Committee members of record at least five days in advance.
Equipment & Tool Committee - In their Feb 25 conference call, the ETC launched their effort to collect sentiment from OEMs, tool makers, regulators and technicians on the coming new edition of the SAE standard, J-2534 v5.0. The California Air Resources Board has told NASTF members that they will need industry support for v5.0 before requiring an upgrade from the current v4.04. The committee agreed that the improvements in v5.0 relating to increased programming speeds and OEM application compatibility with various J-devices will be significant reasons to implement v5.0.
Visit the NASTF ETC page at www.nastf.org/Committees/ETC. Anyone wanting to join the ETC should send their request to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The next conference call for the ETC is set for Wednesday, May 27, 2015. An email invitation with web and dial-in information will be sent to Committee members of record at least five days in advance.
Service Information Committee - View SIC information from the NASTF SIC page at www.nastf.org/Committees/SIC. If you would like to join the Service Information Committee, email email@example.com.
Techs having trouble completing jobs because of access to OEM service information and tools continue to post their questions on NASTF's Service Information Request (SIR) on-line response system. To log or file a NASTF SIR, visit www.nastf.org/FileSIR. Review recent SIRs by visiting www.nastf.org/SIRarchive.
The next conference call for the SIC is set for Wednesday, March 25, 2015. An email invitation with web and dial-in information will be sent to Committee members of record at least five days in advance.
Vehicle Security Committee
- In the Feb 11 meeting of the VSC, Dan Selke
, Safety Supervisor for MBUSA, discussed the newly updated MBUSA Theft-Relevant Parts program which significantly expands access to their security parts for NASTF VSPs. Minutes of that meeting are available on the VSC webpage
If you would like to join the VSC, email firstname.lastname@example.org
. Be sure to visit the NASTF VSC page at www.nastf.org/Committees/VSC
. The next conference call for the VSC is set for Wednesday, May 13, 2015
. An email invitation with web and dial-in information will be sent to Committee members of record at least five days in advance.
ON MY MIND
An Editorial by Skip Potter, NASTF Executive Director
It’s well appreciated in our industry that there is more diversity today in vehicle year and make presented for service at an independent shop than ever before. And while last year’s sales numbers for automakers in the U.S. market mean little to today’s repair jobs for independents, a trend chart published last month by WardsAuto.com caught my attention in how severe that diversity has become and how much more diverse it may still get.
Consider this: When I left my job as sales manager for an auto parts warehouse in 1988, just four OEMs sold 78% of the cars in the U.S. As GM market share fell and Toyota’s rose, 12 years later those two together with Ford and Chrysler still held 73% of the U.S. share of car sales. Stunningly, the chart portrayed those significant four can account only for 58% of 2014 new car sales.
As sales manager I recall watching these numbers in the context of what our parts warehouse needed in inventory in order to consistently beat our order fill-rate target of 93%. In 1988 the average age of the U.S. vehicle population was 7.7 years; in 2014 it was 11.4 years. I can’t even comprehend how much inventory a warehouse now needs to satisfy a 93% fill rate.
This story is not about parts, however. It’s about who is ordering those parts: the independent service shop. Harder to comprehend is what incredible level of education, tools, information resources and management sophistication would now be necessary to productively diagnose and repair 93% of the vehicles presented to the shop’s service writer… every day.
NASTF has 22 OEMs (makes) participating in one or more of its initiatives and I suspect that it would take most of these 22 today to account for a 93% U.S. vehicle population target. I know the actual statistics are available somewhere, but I am afraid to look. Multiply this diversity with the increase in repair-age diversity which, for us, was roughly 3 to 11 years in 1988 and could be a range from 5 to 18 years in 2020.
If you have wondered lately why a shop (or your shop) has had to limit the diversity of makes you are willing to service, now you know. If you wonder still why investment in education, information resources and tools is so much more important today than ever before, now you know. If you hadn’t already figured this out or are not wondering at all, good luck with your business.
NASTF IS ON THE ROAD
NASTF was invited to participate in 2015 MACSW, February 6 in Orlando. During the program GM, Ford, Toyota and Fiat Chrysler presented interesting service notes on R-1234yf and trending late model HVAC systems. The NASTF exhibit was busy most of the day, demonstrating nastf.org and discussing the increasing need for module programming to update a/c parameters as automakers distribute system fixes.
NASTF@VISION2015 - Overland Park, KS, March 6 & 7, 2015 (Exhibiting in the lobby)
NASTF@NORTHEAST2015 - Secaucus, NJ, March 19, 2015 (NASTF Spring 2015 General Meeting)
NASTF@AutoMechanika Chicago - April 25 & 26 (2 NASTF presentation sessions)
Just Cars - Scottsdale, Arizona, May 1 & 2 (Contact: Jim@justcars.us)
NASTF@ALOA - Reno, NV, July 24 & 25, 2015 (Exhibiting, Booth #138)
NASTF@NACE/CARS Expo & Conference, Detroit, MI - July 24 & 25, 2015 (Exhibiting)