How do we solve the repair rift?

Government intervention is not a practical solution

Dealership training budgets for diesel technicians are equal to, and in some cases, surpass the total gross sales of most competing independent shops. Dealerships invest significant amounts of money on technician training and to buy diagnostic tools and systems.

Independent shops can still repair many of the mechanical systems, but often cannot complete jobs without taking the truck to a dealership to reset the system controls.

Wide Rift

A real rift has emerged over this particular problem.

Independent shops typically work on vehicles that are out of warranty and provide broader geographic coverage to truck owners, with many shops using mobile service. Without the training and diagnostic tools, none of that does much good.

Some shops are able to work out arrangements with dealers to allow them to finish jobs, but the key here is the word “independent,” and many repair shops and truck dealerships are very independent. Most would never consider consorting with their perceived enemy.

Government Intervention

Unfortunately, this has become such an impasse that some in the industry are looking to legislation at the state and federal levels to require the sharing of diagnostic tools and information, plus allow access to the specialty tools and equipment to complete customer work.

There are currently several state and federal pieces of legislation, and even a ballot initiative, regarding the “Right to Repair” by independents.

My purpose in writing this memory lane analogy is to note that we can’t go back to how things were 40 years go. Lines have been drawn and it doesn’t look like there will be any simple resolution.

Enacting laws requiring businesses to share intellectual and proprietary property seems to be a strategy not well considered.

I am not a fan of government intervention in the private sector. It always creates unintended consequences. It would be great if the parties could come together and try to work through a template of some sort that would provide an industry solution for all.

World history is filled with accounts of entities snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. The simplest solution is to not go to war over things of this nature. Talk, however painful, is always better.

Tim Kraus is the president and chief operating officer (COO) of the Heavy Duty Manufacturers Association (HDMA). Prior to joining HDMA, he served in various executive positions with heavy duty industry parts manufacturers. The Heavy Duty Manufacturers Association exclusively serves as the industry voice of the commercial vehicle product manufacturers. It is a market segment affiliate of the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA).

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