In 1990, the Clean Air Act was amended with language aimed at making it possible for automotive technicians to properly repair any malfunction that increases emissions. Among other things, the law resulted in a standardized OBDII connector, standardized communication protocols and a set of standard fault codes. Aftermarket technicians need at least one more thing to take advantage of these powerful tools: access to manufacturers’ service information, service techniques and the same scan tools (or an aftermarket equivalent) used by dealership technicians.
The National Automotive Service Task Force was originally begun in Arizona in 1999 as a pilot program to help the aftermarket service industry and the manufacturers identify the information needed by aftermarket technicians, and to develop a method for delivering that information. The pilot program evolved into a national voluntary initiative and proved to be an effective communication forum for identifying existing information gaps and for working cooperatively to resolve them. The emergence of the high-speed Internet provided the opportunity to disseminate service information to a widespread community of service professionals with an efficiency beyond what had previously been possible to even imagine.
As the volume of technical information increased exponentially and third party providers and technical resources like the International Automotive Technician Network (iATN) were introduced into the market place, NASTF recognized the need to become a more formal organization that could bring more resources to the task at hand.
In 2006, after lengthy deliberations, a group of industry stakeholders including independent mechanical and collision repairers, dealer technicians, automobile manufacturers, tool and equipment manufacturers and information providers, automotive technical trainers and locksmiths, finally reached consensus and drafted the articles to incorporate NASTF as a not-for-profit organization. This provided the Task Force with staff, resources and a duly empowered board of directors. Their mission is to “facilitate the identification and correction of gaps in the availability and accessibility of automotive service information, training, diagnostic tools and equipment, and communications to automotive service professionals.”
The board members of the organization include representatives of The Automotive Service Association (ASA), Automotive Service Councils of California (ASCCA), Associated Locksmiths of America (ALOA), the Equipment and Tool Institute (ETI), International Automotive Technicians Network (iATN), Global Automakers Association, Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (AAM), National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA), Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association (AASA), Motor Information Systems, Pacific Technology Solutions, and National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE).
More importantly, the stakeholders of the organization include everyone with a vested interest in a healthy automotive service and repair industry . They are represented by hundreds of caring volunteers who regularly attend meetings, participate in NASTF standing committee work, and otherwise contribute their time and energy to the organization to make it successful in accomplishing its stated mission.
The unprecedented cooperation between the folks who make vehicles and those who maintain and repair them has led to a number of significant achievements over the past decade. Possibly the most impressive of these is the development of the Secure Data Release Model in 2008. This agreement gives automakers a flexible system to provide 24/7 access to vehicle security information for registered and pre-approved locksmiths and technicians.
The SDRM is the product of long hours of hard work by dedicated volunteers, including independent repairers, insurers, law enforcement, and automakers. The objective is to ensure that vehicle owners and their property are properly protected by a vehicle’s on-board security system while still allowing technicians access to the information they need to service and repair the vehicle.
The system is proving to be highly successful, and is a testament to the power of cooperation among a diverse group of industry elements whose common goal is to serve the motoring public.
The increasing complexity of vehicles, driven by government regulations and by consumer demand for luxury and convenience features, will likely result in even greater need for industry cooperation. NASTF was born out of that necessity and is poised to evolve accordingly.
NASTF has demonstrated that by working together, the industry can resolve issues related to automotive service information. Anyone who has an interest in being a part of that effort, or in simply keeping abreast of the activities of the organization, is encouraged to visit the website, www.nastf.org or sign up for the NASTF e-news at www.nastfenews.org