Shops gain J2534 programming capabilities as Right to Repair progresses
Ann Arbor, Mich.—As Right to Repair legislation progresses with model 2018 vehicles this summer, the memorandum of understanding dictates that OEMs keep their software in a cloud, available to download to a generic computer on a subscription basis, allowing for a standard J2534 interface to function with a vehicle.
“This is potentially huge for shops,” said Glen Eaton, product manager for Drew Technologies. “The independent shops now have access to the same information as the dealerships for programming, diagnostics and service information. For many shops, this means being able to offer and promote services for customers that may have normally been turned away previously or have had to rely on third party assistance for. It will benefit those that have purchased our J2534 equipment and have invested in learning how to use it. It will also benefit those that that don’t want to spend the upfront money or the time to learn and navigate OE applications, but would prefer to rely on Drew and the RAP Kit.”
Drew Technologies recently introduced its Remote Assist Program (RAP) Kit, which is designed to aid technicians with J2534 programming.
The kit includes a J2534 device, a tablet and Windows platform tablet and OEM subscriptions installed, a 4G wireless cellular modem, and a battery maintainer built in. The kit addresses computer compatibility issues, inhibitions with new technology and general understanding of how the many OE J2534 applications work at independent repair facilities, Eaton said.
The kit currently supports GM, Ford, Chrysler, Toyota, Honda and Nissan. As Drew Technologies settles into a new relationship with recently acquired Autologic Technologies, its RAP kit offerings will continue to grow.
Eaton said meetings to map out the future of the kits alongside the two companies are under way to add to the kit’s capabilities. “The whole concept behind J2534 is to be able to program, moving forward with Right to Repair and diagnosing any vehicle with a single device. And it’s a smaller cost acquisition than buying an individual tool for each manufacturer. It’s one tool with PC-based subscriptions.”
How it works
The J2534 RAP kit was meant to be simple and user-friendly, Eaton said. “We want shops to get the kit, plug it in, call, and let us do the rest. People think there’s more to it than that, but the big benefit is that you’re paying for the service, not the tool.
“We’re the experts and we take care of the programming and, in most cases, the post-programming requirements, as well.”
He said he hopes Drew Tech’s long-standing reputation for working with both independent repair shops as well as OEMs will help shops brave the opportunities presented as Right to Repair frees up more diagnostics and reprogramming business.
“A number of cars in for repair need reprogramming, so we’re giving shops more control because now they know they can do this work in-house,” Eaton said. “It’s faster, and there’s no towing or transporting. The cost benefits are controlled internally, potentially increasing revenue on an entire job.”
There are also opportunities to reflash when a much-needed software update is available. Manufacturers release those updates, but the car does not receive those messages, leaving motorists in the dark until a forward-thinking technician checks the vehicle, Eaton said.
“I’m a proponent of upselling flash reprogramming,” he said. “There are a few free websites on which you can check if there are updates available for the vehicle. You just have to know its current calibration. We can do that check using the RAP Kit, too.”
One of the biggest benefits of the RAP Kit is that if something happens that renders a vehicle that’s being programmed or reprogrammed inoperable, Drew Technologies says it will get the car up and running, from replacing the module to providing a recovery tool, or even if it has to be sent to a dealer, Eaton said. “Our guarantee is important, because that’s one of the fears in the market, breaking the module. A failed programming event can double or even triple the repair price, but the guarantee puts that fear to rest. We do whatever it takes to get vehicle up and running, as long as it’s associated with our reprogramming event.”
There is no up-front cost for the RAP kit itself.
“We use our call center to guide shops through the tablet screens for agreements purposes, authorization to proceed, and billing. Then, our technical support staff performs the required programming service, sometimes so the shop can work on other jobs while the programming takes place. They pay for service, not the device,” Eaton said. “There’s nobody else that does it this way.”