By: Mark Giammalvo
Consumer Right-To-Repair Bill
Reviewed By State House Committee
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
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
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
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 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
Sometimes Strange Things Happen
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?
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
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.
(Obituaries Courtesy The Standard Times)
Note: Due to recent requests, we will be adding family survivors to our customer’s obituaries as space allows.
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
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.
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Please drive carefully.