All auto makers that signed an agreement to provide independent auto repairers with service and repair information now have their information Web sites on line, according to the National Automotive Service Task Force (NASTF).
But auto service organizations that didn't participate in the agreement say they will continue to press for service information legislation. And even the NASTF admits not all of the Web sites offer all relevant repair information at the moment.
``We are still pursuing enforcement mechanisms,'' said Sandy Bass-Cors, executive director of the Coalition for Auto Repair Equality (CARE), regarding her group's continuing support for the Motor Vehicle Owners' Right to Repair Act. ``Without enforcement, any information they (the auto manufacturers) put out now could dry up later.''
CARE is one of several organizations, including the Tire Industry Association, that insist a service information agreement without enforcement mechanisms leaves independent auto shops unprotected against auto makers' unilateral changes in policy.
The agreement in question was signed Sept. 30, 2002, by the Automotive Service Association, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers and manufacturers representing 35 different makes of car. They negotiated at the urging of Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., whose subcommittee held a hearing on the vehicle repair legislation.
In that agreement, the two auto associations and their members agreed to provide easy, reasonably priced access for independent auto technicians to all the same information their original equipment dealers get. The deadline for complete access was Aug. 31, 2003.
There are now 25 Web sites representing all 35 makes of car, and the NASTF has links to all of them on its own Web site, according to John Cabaniss, NASTF president and AIAM director-environment and energy.
But Ms. Bass-Cors said the auto makers already are starting to make exceptions as to what information they will provide. ``We were told at the (auto aftermarket) show in Las Vegas that they couldn't meet the Aug. 31 deadline on making the Web sites 100-percent complete,'' she said.
Some areas of the auto aftermarket, meanwhile, are still meeting resistance to information transfer from the auto makers. Tim Mc-Mullen, director of public policy for the Associated Locksmiths of America, said he attended the NASTF meeting in March to try and get the auto makers to provide full access to information to service electronic door locks.
``Volkswagen and Volvo were very forthcoming, and Mazda alluded that they would give us the information,'' Mr. McMullen said. ``But Nissan, Toyota and Ford said, `Uh-uh.' The Nissan representative said, `We might as well put out there the information on which cars are easiest to steal.'''
The ALOA is negotiating with various auto makers to obtain lock repair information, but Mr. Mc-Mullen said the real reason for their reluctance was evident. ``The key to a new Lexus costs over $300 at a dealership,'' he said. ``An independent locksmith could provide that key for $75.''
Mr. Cabaniss said it was only to be expected that the process of providing service and repair information would have some glitches in the beginning.
``When the call for repair information equality first came, the focus was on on-board diagnostic information for emissions equipment for 1996 and later years,'' he said. ``That's what the auto makers have been focusing on at first for their Web sites.
``For some of these older cars, the information is less compatible with the Internet for the simple reason that the Internet wasn't around when they were built. But that information can be made available in other ways-hard copy, for example, or CD-ROM.''