Right to Repair and the Consequences of Legistlation

Michael Mobile Technician Clinton, Utah Posted   Latest  

Recently I sat in on a meeting with representatives of a scan tool manufacturer. We were discussing the FCA secure gateway and the wave which it is creating among all the OEMs. We all celebrated as the government compelled the OEMs to give us access in the Aftermarket to service information and programming capabilities. Now it seems that we are seeing retaliation for our efforts under the guise of safety and security.

FCA has, as many of us know, the Secure Gateway Module. It's job is to prevent tools other than an FCA approved tool from clearing codes, using bi-directional contols or programming. One can simply go behind the module and do these functions. Not for long. This was only the first step. Every OEM is looking at encrypting their system to prevent unwanted access. Aftermarket tool manufactures are forced to pay FCA a $50,000 royalty to be in the club. Then there are re-occurring charges and technician specific log-in requirements. Within a few years automotive networks will be so locked down there will be no tuning, few scan tool choices for 2017 and up vehicles and only certain people will be allowed to work on vehicles. 

My question is how long are we going to take it? Global A VIN locks, Component Protection, LSID/VSP? Who owns our cars anyway? How far does the IP rights of the OEM go before infringing on our rights as the end users and aftermarket service providers? Where is the outrage from the "Green Movement" about parts that end up in landfills due to them only being one time use?

Here is an analogy... If the PC computer market worked like the Automotive OEM world, then every time you changed a board or hard drive you would have to buy another Microsoft C of A. IBM would be the only supplier for parts. If you took the Video card out of one machine, you would be prevented from using it in another. Imagine if Dell locked all their parts to a PCs serial number? Your monitor goes dead, you take one out of storage and hook it up. The PC just beeps at you. Why? The monitor is locked to the PC it was first married to. Oh, it gets better. Instead of being able to obtain drivers freely from the OEM website you have to pay $40 each time you download it. Furthermore the driver is only good for that PC and for a limited amount of time. There was a problem with the original driver. There is an update. It will cost $40. This is what we have been putting up with for at least 10 years. On the programming side with the exception of a few OEMs this has been going on since soon after OBDII was released. I understand Intellectual Property and the effort it takes to produce product. The PC market still thrives with drivers given freely and parts being reusable. Why is the Automotive OEM so arrogant, so stingy and so vindictive? 

RIP Autel, it was a good ride. 

What are your thoughts? Does this bother anyone else?

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Jaime Diagnostician
Ocala, Florida
Jaime
 

Good conversation starter Michael. Most who know me well, also know my passion for keeping the aftermarket shops able to compete adequately regarding diagnostics. For many years I have made reference to feeling like "Chicken Little", warning of the impending doom in the near future - with a similar response from "The Indies" - but alas it appears my predictions are coming to fruition. (My) Cut…

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Brin Diagnostician
Melbourne, Florida
Brin
   

I don't know when you have time to sleep Michael but I can say that we all benefit from the fact that you most likely don't. This is a very important conversation. There are so many layers, variables, agendas etc. Most in the industry don't even know what it all means and what we're up against. I don't even think that some vehicle manufactures fully understand what needs to happen and how to…

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John Mobile Technician
Denver, Colorado
John
 

Hi Michel I and many others feel your pain​.​You bring up a lot of good points simply stated only car makers get away with it. What can we do is the question and answer.I don’t know!And have no answer​.​Should we have our customers file Complaints each time we have to ask for some sorts of permission to work on their vehicle or would it be gas on the fire. It seems to me…

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Michael Mobile Technician
Clinton, Utah
Michael
 

Hi John, The RIP Autel comment was made tongue in cheek. It seems that the other OEMs are going to follow suit with encryption beyond the gateway module. The SGM is just a stop gap. More secure methods are being developed. This means that reverse engineering will be mute until the codes are cracked. The encryption for Chrysler is being handled by a firm that works with the DOD. It is difficult…

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Bob Owner/Technician
East Longmeadow, Massachusetts
Bob
   

It's funny you posted this today. I am currently working through getting my WiTech micropd system up and running again and it's going to take significant time with tech support to get it running again. I have the updated secure micropodII. I have registered it and used it successfully in the past. The problem I have right now is that since I have not used it for a few months, it has to go…

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Michael Mobile Technician
Clinton, Utah
Michael
 

Hi Bob, I miss the days where you buy a CD with all the calibrations and you are covered. Subaru still does this. $75 plus shipping and you are good until the next release. Honda gets it. $10 for a day you have full scan tool access. I spend several hours a week updating and reinstalling software. What a pain. -Mike

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Matthew Mobile Technician
Bartlett, Illinois
Matthew
 

Another green argument for more ammunition... All of the EPA final rules I have read usually include verbiage about access to repair tooling. The idea is if it becomes too costly or shops with tools are too far away emissions systems do not get fixed. IMO powertrain module access is not enough anymore. So many things can be tied back to emissions and so many non powertrain modules supply…

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Sam Mobile Technician
Flint, Michigan
Sam
 

In 2005 when I started working for Vetronix there was a lot of discussion about a R2R nationwide. Most of the reps in the room were against it. Me being the new guy in the room asked Jay Meyering during break why we were against it and he explained that if it went through the manufacturers would figure out a ways to price the access so nobody could or would be able to work on the vehicles. He…

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Stephen Owner/Technician
Bedford, United Kingdom
Stephen
 

Wouldn’t it be good if we could have a world wide boycott on repairing a vehicle manufacturers models. Let’s say for one month no independent garages would work on Ford vehicles. The dealerships would be so swooped they couldn’t cope, they would loose millions of pounds in lost parts sales and people would stop buying there cars. Maybe then the manufacturers would realise how much they actually…

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Rusty Owner/Technician
Oakham, Massachusetts
Rusty
 

There are more reasons nowadays that in the past for the OEMs to restrict access to the modern vehicle. i don’t like it. It’s a result of the internet connected “programmable” vehicle. As long as we in the aftermarket have unrestricted access to OEM resources to the vehicle and tooling we are protected. Is it costly and cumbersome ? Yes. Does it give those of us who invest in the added access…

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Maynard Technician
Elmira, Ontario
Maynard
 

I like it Rusty! If we choose to play as "they" present the rules we are "in the game" if we choose to go the "less traveled by" road.... we may be out of the game

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Robert Engineer
Durham, North Carolina
Robert
 

Hello Rusty! I had a nice visit last week with a very large aftermarket parts company. They have a very comprehensive line of used, reman, and new aftermarket parts. I have made my views about R2R pretty clear over the years and thought I had a pretty good idea about most of the issues. Well I got an education which added a completely new dimension. There are laws that protect aftermarket…

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Rex Technical Support Specialist
Alliance, Ohio
Rex
 

Robert, that is a very very interesting take on this. The preserving their aftermarket idea suddenly makes a some other things clearer. I have wondered for some time why there is this growing trend towards addressing everything on the vehicle. A lot of it, to my simple mind made no sense. Why does a mirror assembly need addressed? Looking at it thru the lens you posted it makes a lot of sense…

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Robert Engineer
Durham, North Carolina
Robert
 

Rex, Thanks for adding to this. From what little I know about the HD market it is a bit different than passenger cars in this respect. Manufacturers who make "platforms" have to expose vehicle interactions with the networks much more since they may sell you a rolling frame and you bolt on a cement mixer, etc, etc. All the parts need to talk so the network is much more exposed. Different market…

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Rex Technical Support Specialist
Alliance, Ohio
Rex
 

Robert, HD is different. Been in it 40 plus years. I do think the power of the customer is more concentrated in HD. You are correct. Very few trucks are fully assembled i.e. bodies installed when they leave the plant. Access is a necessity.

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Rusty Owner/Technician
Oakham, Massachusetts
Rusty
 

So it really is a “parts” issue ?

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Robert Engineer
Durham, North Carolina
Robert
 

Rusty, I don't fully understand your question. Parts matter. If we continue to turn parts into keys it might not be a good thing. I would rather not see owning an automobile or for that matter any sizable asset continue to go down the same path as buying a printer. Give me the car and rape me on parts and getting it fixed. Printer free, ink (four letter word here). Where does it end? Will…

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Geoff Diagnostician
Lahaina, Hawaii
Geoff
   

You know how far behind we are out here, so this might all be sorted-out by the time the cars come to me, but it sure will be funny if/when the cars with affordable OE subs can all be fixed at the small shops and the Chryslers all have to go to the dealer. Word gets around pretty fast "don't buy Chryslers you can't get it fixed". Then again, we never need OE for anything the customers can…

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Michael Mobile Technician
Clinton, Utah
Michael
 

I agree with Robert, If I buy a vehicle, should the software and firmware in each part belong to me? This is a problem with John Deere. Nebraska tried to take them on. Not sure where that went. We have laws in the US that tell us that "tuning" a vehicle out of EPA compliance is illegal. The OEMs are using this as a reason to restrict access. They have been cheating the EPA tests for years…

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James Instructor
Boucherville, Quebec
James
 

Checksum error can be re-calculated. There are programs for that, and have seen it done. An example would be writing out DEF on a Mercedes diesel after it is cancelled they know what the Checksum formula is and just write in a new value. I agree with Rusty that I would not want to have someone hack the Autel server and write some malicious killer code. The problem is I remember from a chemistry…

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Robert Engineer
Durham, North Carolina
Robert
 

Hello James, There is a calculation based on the software and configuration data on most modern Daimler/Mercedes ECUs. They refer to it as the CVN, Calibration Verification Number. This was also written into some of our OBD laws but it has been painfully slow to be adopted. The intent is when you do an OBD inspection the vehicle CVN is compared to data that is on file for the particular…

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Michael Mobile Technician
Clinton, Utah
Michael
 

James, Yes, checksum can be recalculated. There are even apps for that. The problem is that unless the module is one that is popular, the checksum may not be one that is known. When cloning many PCMs, the apps and equipment I use will often say "unknown checksum". Since nothing is changed, it really does not matter. When making changes, this creates a problem. (tuning for instance) The changes…

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Marlin Technician
Estacada, Oregon
Marlin
 

You should do a little research regarding you statement about the PC market. "Thrives" isn't very accurate. If you want to do a more realistic comparison, reference the market related to computers which are used in highly consequential applications, including aircraft, aerospace, medical, and energy. I believe your results will be drastically different, and much more relevant.

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Michael Mobile Technician
Clinton, Utah
Michael
 

Hi Marlin, I respectfully disagree. In comparing the markets, it is more a comparison of how the standards and collaboration have effected the cost and simplified repairs than the actual market. The fact that that one can build a modern PC by putting together parts and adding an OS is amazing. It was the work of forward thinking individuals that made it possible. With every generation of…

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Marlin Technician
Estacada, Oregon
Marlin
 

It seemed that you were referring to desktop PC's, as what you wrote correlated to that. The sales, profit, and producers of these have been falling significantly for years. Particularly interesting, as relates to this discussion, is the correlations of volume, serviceability, and cost related the devices in the three main categories of personal computing. Sales volume goes up in correlation to…

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Robert Engineer
Durham, North Carolina
Robert
 

Hello Marlin, I am sure you are aware that many of the industries you mention have applications and products built on common computer architectures such as windows. The industries vary as to how close they keep their cards. Once you introduce complex software into systems it becomes a maintenance issue just like changing your oil. You can put the Oil filter in a place where you can get to it…

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