OEM scan tools and connected cars dominate topics at NASTF meeting in Las Vegas

Las Vegas—Among the highlights of the National Automotive Service Task Force (NASTF) Fall 2013 General Meeting, held during the AAPEX/SEMA trade shows in Las Vegas on Nov. 6, were presentations on the emerging technologies of the connected car, counterfeit scan tools, and the development of a new NASTF OEM scan tool matrix.


The proliferation of counterfeit scan tools

“If you wouldn’t trust another shop’s diagnosis without doing your own, why would you trust a cheap counterfeit tool?” Bob Stewart, manager of aftermarket service support for General Motors, said. “Counterfeit tools are copies made with intent to defraud the buyer, and come with several risks: misdiagnosis, quality, safety, warranty, support, and full loss of the purchase price when the tool fails.”

Currently, the sale of counterfeit goods across all industries represents approximately $135 billion annually, Stewart said, noting that websites selling counterfeit goods receive  87 million visits a year.

Stewart presented a graphic showing the internal components of a counterfeit GM Tech II, highlighting several differences that are fairly obvious upon close inspection. 

On the counterfeit circuit board, several pinholes had not been soldered, brand and part number identification had been scraped from all the integrated circuit modules, and a jumper wire was soldered across one circuit to enable its operation.

“Counterfeit enforcement in some countries can be very difficult, so our best hope is to drive them out of the scan tool market by reducing demand,” Stewart said, adding that the GM Tech II is manufactured in the U.S., so if a shop is buying one from overseas, the odds are that it is a counterfeit.  “We can do that by educating you, the customer. If the deal is too good to be true, it probably is.”


Consumer perspective on the connected car

Greg Brannon, director of automotive engineering and industry relations for AAA, made a presentation on the consumer’s perspective in development of the connected car. The consumer’s interest, he said, lies in four areas: safety, convenience, peace of mind, and infotainment.

 “The most important element to AAA and our consumers is to reduce crashes and hopefully increase the efficiencies of the transportation industry,” he said.

For the last two years, a pilot test on vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure technology at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, in Ann Arbor, has been addressing those issues in particular, he said.

“They have been testing 3,000 cars on the road that are talking to each other and talking to a set of intersections to evaluate the impact of those connected-car systems on the safety of the vehicles, as well as what it means for vehicle flow,” he said.

Convenience and peace of mind involves using a telematics system to simplify complex problems, such as navigation, remote state, automated tolling, remote diagnosis, and remote prognosis, Brannon said.

“Mercedes-Benz, for example, is using the telematics system to connect back and provide real-time feedback about the health of the vehicle,” he said. “That direct connection with the data to be able to use prognostics to anticipate a failure before it happens is very powerful to the repair industry.”

Infotainment has to do with features that make the driving experience more enjoyable, Brannon said.

But such features can also contribute to distracted driving – an issue on which AAA has conducted research, he said. Among the most distracting technologies are speech-to-text systems that take a driver’s mind off the road, he said. 

By 2025, connected cars will likely make up about 50 percent of all vehicles in operation, Brannon said, adding that “they are not only here, but they’re here to stay.” 


NASTF OEM Scan Tool Matrix nears release

Donny Seyfer, co-chair of the Equipment and Tool Committee (ETC), announced development of the OEM Scan Tool Resource Center, a cooperative project of the NASTF Service Information Committee and the Mechanical Operations Committee of ASA.

The project is aimed at providing buyers with comprehensive, reliable information that simplifies the process of evaluating and purchasing an OEM scan tool, Seyfer said. 

“Each scan tool has been vetted by technicians and the OE to make sure we got the information right,” Seyfer said. Beyond accessing essential information on OE scan tools, customers will also be able to purchase tools directly through the resource center, which is to be launched in spring 2014.   



Parts & People

Parts & People is published monthly by Automotive Counseling and Publishing Company, Inc., a Colorado corporation, P.O. Box 18731 Denver, CO 80203, 303-765-4664. President-Lance Buchner. Founded by Lance Buchner and Dave Lucia.