Not all aftermarket scan tools return OEM results in all situations, finds Repairify study – Repairer Driven News | CarTailz

A field study by Repairify has shown that not all aftermarket scan tools work like OEM tools on every year, make, model and trim vehicle (YMMT) and there is no way for a technician to know what works and what doesn’t. Chris Chesney, the company’s vice president of training and organizational development, told an audience at a session of the OEM Collision Repair Technology Summit on Thursday.

During the summit, which is part of the Repairer Driven Education agenda offered by the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS) during the SEMA show, Chesney unveiled some of the findings of Repairify’s research on aftermarket tools.

Repairify’s teams gathered information by conducting a field study of more than 70,000 model year 2014-2022 vehicles located at a dozen Copart shipyards. The study linked multiple aftermarket tools to thousands of different YMMT vehicles and produced a comparative analysis of scan results, Diagnostic Trouble Codes (DTCs) and the ability to clear DTCs in the same manner as the factory tool.

Chesney didn’t provide full details on the findings, saying Repairify invested millions of dollars creating the database to help its customers determine when an aftermarket tool might be a viable choice. But he presented five use cases that identified some troubling aftermarket tool flaws.

“Not at the end of the day [the tools] all the same? Well, no, they are not. And what’s the difference? Well, the difference is completeness and accuracy. And it not only means this C brand tool is really good for Asian vehicles but not so good for Euro and domestic vehicles. You can’t be that big. And we didn’t see it that way.”

He emphasized that the OEM tool “is the gold standard – always is, always will be, never changes. That’s the foundation.” But he suggested that an aftermarket tool that works like an OEM tool for a specific YMMT vehicle might be an acceptable and less expensive option for a body shop.

“In terms of accuracy, they return exactly what the OEM factory tool returns in terms of all modules communicated with and all DTCs returned in exactly the same way the DTCs were provided by the factory tool ? … [S]Some of them will surely work on certain vehicles? And the answer is yes, but it’s not every year to trim the model, it’s not every module, it’s not every DTC, it’s not every pin.”

Chesney provided details on five specific use cases:

  • On a 2021 Ford Escape, the OEM tool identified two DTCs in the Occupant Classification System Module (OCSM), while the aftermarket tool passed it. “It’s a security system. We won’t call that a confirmation – it wasn’t even close…. Aftermarket Tool A should not be used on this vehicle in connection with this scan on this model trim year vehicle.”
  • On a 2017 Toyota Camry, the OEM tool identified two DTCs for the ABS module while the aftermarket tool showed none. “The aftermarket tool missed that. It totally missed that. So can we call this a validation? no We will never say you can use this tool to scan the vehicle, a 2017 Camry with that VIN, we will always pop up and recommend you use the factory tool.”
  • On a 2017 Kia Rio, the OEM tool identified a total of three DTCs, with two active DTCs related to the airbag module requiring replacement of the module, “while the aftermarket tool came back and said okay, no problem. It’s definitely not a passport. Since we are dealing with security systems, we have to be precise.”
  • On a 2016 Honda Civic, the OEM tool identified two DTCs in the ABS system, while the aftermarket tool, in this case Repairify’s own asTech tool, identified only one DTC.
  • Finally, on a 2021 Jeep Gladiator, the OEM and aftermarket tool returned the exact same results. “So in that case, we would offer the buyer an opportunity.”

Chesney said his assumption that aftermarket tools could be made more accurate by their manufacturers over time was proven wrong. “I will tell you that when the manufacturers of aftermarket scan tools give you a tool, they have other things to do than update their software every year to make sure it covers more vehicles,” he said he. “They listen to their hotline and respond, and when they respond they fix the problem and wait for the phone to ring again.

“You don’t have enough people. Imagine they are trying to consolidate 26 manufacturers in one box. At first they make concessions. But some of the content, some of the software they provide works well. So the idea is to try to find out where those cases are and give them a hand so you can make a decision.”

Customers can set their tool selection criteria through Repairify’s patented rules engine, Chesney said. The aftermarket tools that did not work like an OEM tool for a given YMMT will be marked as “unverified” but can still be selected by customers at their own risk.

Joining Chesney onstage to discuss scan tool selection were representatives from three OEMs: Dan Dent, Manager, Collision, Certified Repair Network at Nissan Motor Corporation; Devin Wilcox, program manager and strategist, Collision Network at Subaru of America; and Jake Rodenroth, operations manager for the North American body repair program at Lucid Motors.

Rodenroth explained that Lucid isn’t typical, as its vehicles don’t have OBD-II ports and rely on an Ethernet cable to connect the vehicle. But he said the OEM is committed to protecting its vehicles from hackers whenever they’re connected to the internet.

“So we need to have that layer of security for the diagnostic tool, but it’s also our umbilical cord to our car,” he said. “When we make changes to the car and the scan tool, we can push those in real time, and when we turn on other controllers in the car, diagnostic tools set up these routines to service those components.”

Chesney addressed the issue of payment and those businesses that reported difficulties getting insurers to pay for scans. “Is the data that we presented at the beginning where we talked about our testing of thousands of vehicles and the 100,000 diagnostic sessions and a dataset that identifies the possibility of where on that VIN using this tool will return the same result as.” the factory tool, if this system is used and the documentation is applied, do you think this will help the collision center pay?

Both Wilcox and Dent said their primary concern is making sure repairs are done properly and they can help garages justify why they should be paid for following OEM recommendations.

“One thing I’ve noticed about every seminar I attend is that I’m not here to fight loose change,” Wilcox said. “I’m here to make sure the work that needs to be done on our vehicles gets done. I can help explain the why, I can help qualify the why… I’m here to support business, whether you’re in our network or not.”

Citing a recent discussion he had, he justified Subaru’s requirement that a “lengthy, invasive” visual inspection be conducted after one of its vehicles was involved in a collision. Inspection is necessary because it can reveal problems such as: B. a frayed cable or an incorrectly installed airbag component that a pre- or post-scan does not find.

“So back to the question of the nickels and dimes, that’s not really my place. But if a question is asked, I can help with the justifying information to get that payment,” he said.

Dent said it’s up to store owners and operators to decide what’s best for them. “All we can tell you is what is best for our brand and our owners and what our opinion is. So you have to decide which business model you want to pursue.

“We’re going to throw a blanket over it and say it has to be our scan tool,” he said. “This is the gold standard…. We’re not testing 30 alternative brands out there, we don’t know what they’re going to do or how badly it’s going to screw up or if they’re going to screw it up at all. But we don’t take that risk.

“We’ve placed as much value on you as a store owner and store operator as we want you to do the right thing,” he said.

Rodenroth said it is important for workshops to understand why they stand behind OEM practices. For example, he said, topping off a Lucid’s cooling system requires seven gallons of coolant, as opposed to most gas-powered vehicles, which typically require about two gallons.

An insurer will likely balk at paying that much coolant because they don’t understand how a Lucid differs from other vehicles. “What they don’t know is that we have a water-cooled control unit in the car, which is the autonomous driving unit. And if you starve that unit with coolant to keep it cool, it will actually burn the most expensive computer in the car.”

“As garages, we need to pass on this product knowledge, and the three of us can pass it on to you all day long. But the reality is, you have to want it.”


Featured Image: Reports of a 2021 Ford Escape created using an OEM scan tool (left) and an unidentified aftermarket tool. The OEM identified two DTCs in the Occupant Classification System Module (OCSM) while the aftermarket tool passed it. (Dave LaChance/Repairer Driven News)

Panel members, from left, Chris Chesney, VP of Training and Organizational Development at Repairify; Devin Wilcox, program manager and strategist, Collision Network at Subaru of America; Jake Rodenroth, Operations Manager, North American Body Repair Program at Lucid Motors; and Dan Dent, Manager, Collision, Certified Repair Network at Nissan Motor Corporation. (Dave LaChance/Repairer Driven News)

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