Return to 'Giammalvo Quarterly' News Letter 'Page'

A Publication of Sam Giammalvo's Auto Sales & Service
Vol. 13  No. 3         Summer 2007

Our Corporate Logo

Consumer Right-To-Repair Bill
Reviewed By State House Committee

By: Mark Giammalvo

Many of you are aware, from prior articles here, or through our actual conversations with you, that we as independent repair technicians are sometimes locked out of repairing certain computerized items on certain cars. This issue has plagued the automotive repair industry for more than 10 years now. As cars are built with more and more electronic devices and computerized modules, we find that more and more repair information is being withheld from independent repair technicians. The end result is that we are forced to recommend that you take your vehicle to the new car dealer since, in these cases; only they have the specific repair information to fix your car.

This results, in you the consumer, no longer enjoying the freedom of being able to choose WHO will repair your car. Many consumers can’t afford the parts and labor prices of the new car dealer facilities. In addition, many consumers report that they prefer the ‘individual’ one-on-one treatment that their local independent Repair Shop provides.

Although Right-To-Repair Legislation, (R2R), has stalled at the federal level, Massachusetts now has a viable R2R Bill in the works.

Several months back, The Alliance of Automotive Service Providers, (AASP), board member, Stan Morin, asked if I would testify to the Massachusetts Committee Panel on the R2R Bill Hearing on June 26 at the State House. At first I thought to myself, yikes, the State House! How do I get there? Where will I park? Then I looked at my schedule. I knew I would be out of state on vacation but I also knew that I could work it out so that I would be back in time for the meeting. I then asked Stan if he could help me with good directions as I would need them to get there. Stan then stated it would be best to take the “T.” Again I thought . . . The "T?" I’ve never been on the "T." I think Stan sensed the concern in my voice. In his usual casual way, he then stated: “Don’t worry Mark, Leave the details to me, I’ll arrange to pick you up. I’ll even throw a lasso around you and get you their.”

And so it went. At 7:00 A.M. sharp on the morning of June 26, there was Stan as he promised, picking me up in a parking lot in Fall River. It was all too easy for Stan from there. Stan has been to the State House and this area of Boston many times before for R2R efforts. We drove to a "T" station where Stan showed me how to get my “Charlie” Card activated for a round trip to-and-from the State House. We arrived at our "T" stop at around 9:30 and then Stan led me to our legislators’ office for a brief meeting. The large turnout was amazing. The office was packed and AASP was well represented as well as The Coalition for Automotive Repair Equality, (CARE), the automotive aftermarket parts suppliers and the aftermarket parts manufacturers.

After a briefing with our associations' lobbyists, we headed over to the State House. When I picked up a copy of the agenda, I was surprised to see that in a 4-5 hour time allotment, there were 46 unrelated and separate Acts to be heard in addition to R2R. I figured we’d be lucky to get 10 minutes dedicated to our cause.

The hearing room was packed and it became readily apparent that most of the people present were there for the R2R issue. Fortunately for us, a majority of the other 46 acts were read off for comment but no one came forward for or against them. This allowed R2R to get most of the Joint Committee’s time and it was time well spent. Automotive Industry Trainer and Mobile Diagnostic Technician, Dave Scaler, opened up with an interesting Power Point Presentation and then groups of four people each were allowed to testify in front of the Committee. ASA, Toyota and representatives for the auto manufacturers and dealers association all got their time in at an attempt to shoot down R2R.

It was refreshing to see that several Committee Members voiced their own personal experiences involving difficulties getting their own cars serviced. “Having to go back to the dealer” was often heard in their sentiments. This was an interesting and beneficial surprise for all of us on the R2R side.

I found the most interesting parts of the day to be listening to the many frustrated shop owners and technicians speaking about actual cases where they were unable to repair a car due to information access issues. It certainly made me feel ‘not alone’ as we have experienced this, and unfortunately, more and more often as of late.

One of the most interesting cases was Stans customers Volkswagen Passat that needed an instrument cluster. Stan went on to say that the VW drove in with an inoperative instrument cluster and after they diagnosed it as faulty, they replaced it only to find out that replacing the cluster caused a new problem. Now the car would not start. Eventually Stan found out that the new cluster would need to be programmed to the car’s Powertrain Control Module, (PCM), and that this could only be done through the use of the Volkswagen Scan Tool or, what is commonly known as, a VAG tool. Stan followed all the appropriate channels using the National Automotive Service Technicians Task Force, (NASTF) web site to get linked to a website for non-dealership Volkswagen Repair Technicians. On that site, Stan found out that he could ‘RENT’ the VAG tool from the VW dealer for $200.00 for one day of use. After Stan input his company’s credit card he then also received a message that they had also charged him a $7,000.00 security deposit that would be returned when he returned the VAG tool.

Stan then told how he went to the Volkswagen dealer to pick-up the tool and then commented to the parts counter person on how the factory web site snuck in the $7,000.00 dollar security deposit after he had consummated the transaction. As Stan walked out of the dealership with the VAG tool the counter person then mumbled in a soft voice: ‘You’ll be back’. Wondering what this meant, Stan then questioned the counter person. He then advised Stan that the VAG Tool will be of no use to him without the software, which resides in their dealership’s computer system. Seeing that Volkswagen had quickly priced him out of competitively repairing this car, Stan then asked the counter person what they would charge if he towed the vehicle to them to be repaired. The VW counter person then responded with: 165.00. Stan then reluctantly had the VW towed to the dealer for the programming procedure.

Unfortunately, Stan was unable to get his $200. back but it was a lesson learned. I give Stan all the credit for stopping at nothing to get his customer’s car repaired. Although this event is a common sad occurrence, it was good to have it told for all on the Committee to hear and I believe it was an eye opener for them. And a good example of the Mine-Field set up against independent Repair Shops.

Other similar situations came up including the more frequent Tire Pressure Monitoring Reset Issues, (TPM) and specific vehicles that had to go back to the dealer for that procedure as well. (TPM is government mandated on late model cars. TPM uses radio frequency sensors in each wheel to alert the driver, via a dash warning light, of a low tire condition. TPM needs to be ‘reset’ whenever tires are rotated. As a result, special procedures and tooling is needed for some cars). 

Another case of note was a Volvo S80 that had a tail lamp bulb out. The technician replaced the bulb only to find  that it still would not illuminate. After extensive testing and research on-line, the technician discovered that the Volvo’s On-board Body Computer had disabled that tail lamp circuit when the first bulb failed. The fix? You guessed it, go to a Volvo dealer and have them connect the Volvo Scan Tool to ‘reactivate’ the tail lamp circuit. The dealer charged 95.00 dollars. As Citibank would say. . . Priceless!

All and all it seemed as though our side made its point on both the lack of information as well as the exorbitant costs and procedures needed just to access the “available” information.  Hopefully in a few months we’ll hear from the Committee on the status of this incredibly important piece of legislation.

Vehicle Manufacturers Continue Phase-In of
 Electronic Tire Pressure Monitoring

Back in 1995, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, (NHTSA) issued its final ruling regarding tire pressure monitoring systems, (TPMS) on new vehicles. The new federal regulation mandates ‘direct’ tire pressure-monitoring systems on all light vehicles. It requires that automotive manufacturers install a system that can detect when one or more of the vehicle's tires are 25% or more below the recommended inflation pressure.  Many of these newer systems use a small transmitter in each wheel to transmit tire pressure, via a wireless signal, to the Body Control Module, (BCM) of the vehicle. If the BCM detects a tire with low pressure it activates a warning light or text message on the dash to alert the driver.

Phase-in of the new regulation began on Sept. 1, 2005. All passenger cars must have a TPMS as standard equipment beginning with the 2006 model year. All new four-wheeled vehicles weighing 10,000 pounds or less must be equipped with the monitoring system by the 2008 model year.

NHTSA estimates that about 120 lives a year will be saved when all new vehicles are equipped with the TPMS. In addition, consumers should see improved fuel economy and increased tire life. NHTSA says, "The manufacturers' average cost per vehicle is estimated to be between $48.44 and $69.89, depending on the technology used." It is interesting to note that some new car dealers are charging 95.00 just to reset the TPMS when the tires are rotated, TPMS transmitters must be ‘relearned’ whenever the wheels are moved to a different position on the car, such as in a tire rotation. This requires the connection of a scan tool or other device to the BCM to relearn the new position of each wheel and tire.

Tire pressure monitoring came to light during and after the Ford Explorer Roll Over Investigation, which also resulted in, and investigation of the Firestone Tires that were on those vehicles. Results of both investigations concluded that both tire age and low tire pressure, (causing excessive heat), were key causes to sudden flat tires, causing accidents and rollovers. The tire pressure monitoring system was required by Congress when it enacted the Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability and Documentation (TREAD) Act in 2000.

Sometimes Strange Things Happen

We recently learned of a strange incident that happened to a gasoline service station owner. This station owner had a loyal customer who had stalling problems after a fill-up at his gas station. The customers car was towed to another shop across town, and was diagnosed as having water in the fuel. Although several tests failed to show any water in the service stations tanks, the customer and the repairing shop were convinced that he had been sold bad gas. Since the customer always used this specific gas station, there was no question as to who was responsible. The customer angrily stated that he would never again visit this station. A week later, the customer then called the service station to apologize. It was discovered that the customer’s neighbor mentioned how cute it was that his son liked to pretend to fill the car up with gas by using the garden hose. Problem solved.

Where’s The Gas Cap?

        Source: Motorwatch

Gas caps will soon disappear from your life, making it impossible to forget and leave it sitting on top of your car as you drive away without it. Even better, gas caps have been a nuisance over the past several years as they can cause the ‘check engine lamp’ to illuminate if they are not tightened enough after refueling. The first no-gas cap vehicle will be a 2008 Lincoln MKS sedan. Ford claims the gas-cap-less system has a better seal and therefore is better at preventing the escape of gas fumes then ever before. This prevention of gasoline fumes, (otherwise known as evaporative emissions) helps reduce photochemical smog. There is also the time savings issue of not having to remove and install a separate gas cap. All you have to do is pop open the filler door and stick the filler nozzle through the sealer flap in the end of the fill pipe. Ford will phase in the system on other models in the years to follow.

A Notable Event

We are proud to announce that Glenns daughter, Angelina Giammalvo, a sophomore at Boston University, is spending the spring semester at the Technische Universitat in Dresden, Germany studying German and Electrical Engineering. She was recently inducted into the National Honor Society for Aerospace Engineering and is on the deans list. We wish Angelina the best and look forward to her return home here for summer break.

In Passing.

(Obituaries Courtesy The Standard Times)
Note: Due to recent requests, we will be adding family survivors to our customer’s obituaries as space allows.

Mary-Elizabeth Butler, 40, former resident of Narragansett, RI, died on April 12, 2007, at her parents home in New Bedford.  Mary Elizabeth was born April 8, 1967 in New Bedford, MA to Edward and Violet (Williams) Butler. She was a graduate of Bishop Stang High School, Rhode Island College and Bridgewater State College where she achieved her Master's of Education in Counseling. She was Director of Career Development at Salve Regina University, and traveled extensively as a hobby.  She is survived by her parents, Edward and Violet; her sisters, Erin (Butler) MacGuire of Glastonbury, CT and Patricia (Butler) Goff of Warwick, RI; her brother, Edward Butler of South Yarmouth, MA.

Marie H. (Holzmann) Rasche, 78, of New Bedford, died Thursday, March 8, 2007, at home following a long illness. She was the wife of the late Rev. William E. Rasche and the companion of George Marshall of New Bedford. Born in Woodhaven, NY, the daughter of the late Andrew J. and the late Emma (Beldy) Hozmann, she grew up in New York state, where she graduated from Sewanhaka High School with the Class of 1946, and the William Smith College, with the Class of 1950. She later earned her Master’s degree from Bridgewater State College in 1974. She also lived in Virginia and in Weymouth, MA, before settling in New Bedford in 1963. Mrs. Rasche taught for twenty years at the Jireh Swift School in New Bedford until her retirement in 1987. She was a communicant of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in New Bedford. She enjoyed horseback riding, gardening and volunteering at the Whaling Museum Visitors Center and the Rotch-Jones Duff House in New Bedford. Mrs. Rasche is survived by her companion; two sons, Karl A. Rasche and his wife Donna of Presque Isle, ME, and Stephen C. Rasche and his wife Patrice of Canterbury, NH; two daughters, Katherine E. Clabaugh and her husband Craig of Wilton, CT, and Kristin N. Soares and her husband Michael of East Freetown; a sister, Juliette Mazepa of New Hyde Park, NJ; seven grandchildren and several nieces and nephews. Mrs. Rasche was the sister of the late Florence Platz.

Frances D. (Lopes) Cuvilje, 82, of New Bedford died March 13, 2007 at home after a long illness. She was the wife of the late Melvin R. Cuvilje. Born in New Bedford, the daughter of the late Louis and Cora (Johnson) Lopes, she lived in New Bedford all of her life. Mrs. Cuvilje was a member of the Bethel A.M.E. Church.  She was formerly employed as a licensed practical nurse at Taunton State Hospital for many years until retirement. Mrs. Cuvilje was a member and Past Worthy Matron of J.W. Hood Chapter 12 Prince Hall F. & A.M. Order of the Eastern Star. She enjoyed the company of her cat Scuffy and her late dog Buddy.  Survivors include a brother, Roy Lopes, Sr. of Summit, NJ; a sister-in-law, Julianne Lopes of New Bedford; and several nieces, nephews and cousins. She was the sister of the late Richard Lopes and Adrian Lopes.

Rev. John J. Murphy, 93, of Fall River died Monday April 23, 2007 at Catholic Memorial Home.  Born in Fall River, he was the son of the late Michael J. and Mary (Sarsfield) Murphy. He was a graduate of B.M.C. Durfee High School, St. Charles College in Catonsville, MD, and St. Mary's Seminary in Baltimore.
Father Murphy was ordained a priest on June 3, 1939 in St. Mary's Cathedral. His assignments as Parochial Vicar included St. Peter the Apostle Parish in Provincetown, Holy Name Parish in Fall River, and St. Lawrence Parish in New Bedford. He served as Pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in Seekonk, St. Joseph Parish in Taunton, and Holy Name Parish in New Bedford, until his retirement in 1989. He later assisted at St. Elizabeth Seton Parish in North Falmouth and St. Thomas More Parish in Somerset, before moving to the Cardinal Medeiros Residence.  Survivors include a sister, Rita F. Johnson of Riverside, RI; two nieces, Maureen Vavolotis and Kathleen Danforth; and a nephew, Michael Johnson. He was the brother of the late Michael A. Murphy and Marie A. Murphy.

We appreciate your business.
Please drive carefully.
Sam Giammalvo's Auto Sales, Inc.
1476 Purchase Street
New Bedford, MA 02740
Phone: (508) 999-3213

Ccontact Us

Return to Sam Giammalvo's "Home Page"