OEMs reinforce need for before and after scans at NACE panel discussion
Anaheim, Calif.—The need for collision repairers to perform pre- and post-repair scans has come to the forefront lately, as four OEMs have released position statements requiring they be done to ensure safety and a quality repair. Educating insurers, shops, and technicians and opening dialogue about scans and calibrations was the goal of a recent panel discussion at NACE, moderated by Mike Anderson, of Collision Advice.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), American Honda, and Nissan now require pre- and post-repair scans for all OBD II vehicles, while Toyota’s position statement recommends a pre-repair scan be performed, but requires one if an electrical system may have been affected — such as a damaged quarter panel with a lane-departure sensor behind it. It does require post-repair scans for all collision repairs, though.
Panelists Mark Allen, of Audi, and John Eck, of General Motors, confirmed their companies will soon be releasing similar position statements requiring pre- and post-repair scans. Other panelists were Brian Wayne, of FCA; Chris Tobie, of Honda; Justin Miller, of Nissan; Doug Kelly, CEO of Collision Diagnostic Services (CDS), whose asTech communication interface allows CDS technicians to remotely scan and diagnose trouble codes; Chris Evans, of State Farm; and Gerry Poirier, of Farmers Insurance. Evans and Poirier participated on the panel not to offer official positions from their companies but to learn more about the subject as they help form company policy on it, they said.
Electronic systems designed to reduce collisions, such as stability control, lane departure warning systems, and adaptive cruise control, along with supplemental restraint systems are just some of the features that can be affected in a collision, requiring scans and calibrations, if necessary. But the repair process can also introduce faults, Kelly said, noting that 40 percent of the trouble codes that CDS sees come from that.
“There are certain repair procedures that will introduce fault codes through no fault of your own,” he said. “It’s just a function of what happens when you disassemble a car, cycle the key, and move it to the paint shop without a part on it. I’d say the risk of not doing this, from a reputation standpoint, a customer service standpoint, and from a legal standpoint is pretty high.”
All panelists agreed with Kelly, even when the insurer may not pay for the procedure.
Insurers call for greater specificity
The OEMs on the panel confirmed their current position statements apply to all vehicles built since 1996, the year that OBD II architecture was standardized, even though advanced safety and convenience technology is found mostly only on newer cars, and the types and severity of damage may widely vary. Wayne, of FCA, said that even if a windshield is replaced for a rock chip, the vehicle should be recalibrated “to make sure everything is firing.”
“Our interest at State Farm is that customers get put back in safe vehicles every time,” Evans said, although he questioned how reasonable it is to require every single collision repair have a pre- and post-repair scan, and would a minor door dent repair call for scans, especially on an older vehicle without embedded technology? Poirier agreed, and noted that currently, Farmers discusses with shops on a case-by-case basis when the shop deems a scan is needed.
“If the OEMs would give us more information and relay that to the information providers, a lot of that friction would go away,” he said.
Both insurers agreed that severity would rise as a result of required scans, although Anderson also noted that insurers could realize some cost savings from improved on-time deliveries (from needed parts identified early) and early determination of total losses with the scans.
Anderson called for information providers to help by coming up with “realistic times that are fair for everyone,” noting that as part of the panel discussion, the OEMs have said “they would be willing to share what their service repair times are.”
Reached later by Parts & People, CCC Information Services and Mitchell International said they are working on just how their estimating systems may incorporate those.
“Since several OEMs have announced their positions on vehicle scanning, CCC has been working to gather input from its customers: repairers, insurers and OEMs,” said Mark Fincher, vice president of Market Solutions for CCC. “We are also working with MOTOR, our data provider. Once we gather all of the necessary input, we’ll have a better understanding of the needs of the industry and will be in position to help define and deliver a solution that is suitable for all parties.”
Jack Rozint, who joined Mitchell International in August as vice president of Sales & Service, Repair - Auto Physical Damage Solutions, said Mitchell is taking a close look at the subject. He has been studying the topic for almost two years, he said, and learned about diagnostics while at Vetronix, now owned by Bosch.
“The business unit I was in was the same one that produced the Tech II OEM scan tool for GM, along with a couple other OEM scan tools,” he said. “So I’m familiar with vehicle bus and data structures, how scan tools work, and the differences between OEM scan tools and aftermarket scan tools.”
As a consultant for the past two years, Rozint said he’s seen collision repairers increasingly concerned about getting vehicles repaired correctly and through production.
“So when I joined Mitchell, it kind of fit right in the wheelhouse of how we’re going to support our customers through this next-generation vehicle technology,” he said.
Rozint said it’s on the “front burner” of issues at Mitchell, although it’s not its role to set times for labor times for procedures such as scans, recalibrations, and re-flashing, without engaging in dialogue.
“Our job as an information provider is to provide information and technology that enables our clients to develop the correct estimate quickly and accurately and take the steps necessary to return the vehicle to pre-accident function and appearance,” he said.
CIC Emerging Technologies Committee is studying the issue
As chairman of the Collision Industry Conference (CIC) Emerging Technologies committee, Rozint said resolving the issue of getting shops paid for the extra work is at the top of the list of its initiatives, and much work remains before it becomes an established industry practice. Through conference calls and at the next CIC quarterly meeting, he said he’d like to facilitate a discussion with OEMs, collision repairers, and, hopefully, scan tool manufacturers.
The committee’s first step will be to define just what a pre- and post-repair scan includes, he said, including the terminology and technology used, and for which vehicles — and does that include every vehicle from 1996 and newer?
“Most OEMs are also adding to their position statements that the only appropriate scan tool is an OEM scan tool. So that would really change the dynamic in the industry,” he said. “Because if you think about it, tomorrow morning if every collision repair facility in the U.S. took every vehicle and brought it to a dealer for a before and after scan with an OEM scan tool, the dealership population in the U.S. couldn’t possibly handle that volume. There are just not enough OEM scan tools and not enough capacity in the dealerships. So, there are a lot of open questions here. What vehicles need to be scanned, and are aftermarket scan tools capable of knowing at least part of this function?”