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November 2000 Issue Highlights

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OBD II Lock-Out Bill Signed Into Law
PPG Merging with GlasPac Software


After three years of work by the automotive aftermarket, SB 1146, the legislation co-sponsored by the California Automotive Wholesalers Asociation to end the OBD II Lock-Out, has been signed into law.

"By enacting SB 1146, the state legislature and Governor Davis do their part to level the playing field for emissions-related work," said Michael Morris, owner of Don L. Morris Auto Parts, Palo Alto, "and ensure that Californians are able to choose the parts and service providers they believe offer them the best quality, convenience,and price for keeping their cars running properly.

"Thanks to the many volunteer hours given by several of you and the letters and telephone calls that you made on behalf of SB1146" said the CAWA. "This was a true industry effort and proves, in part, that unity is very powerful in the legislative and regulatory processes."

Sam Cracraft, owner of Sacramento TBA and chairman of the California Consumer Choice Steering Committee, said, "Our next step will be to work with the California Air Resources Board, which has the responsibility for developing the regulations necessary to implement SB 1146 before January 1, 2002. With SB 1146’s overwhelming bi-partisan support in the Legislature, combined with Governor Davis’ stamp of approval, I think we can be very hopeful about the process for completing the OBD rule reforms with CARB."

SB 1146 was written to solve the problem of the aftermarket being "locked out" of new vehicles On Board Diagnostics (OBD) systems. The OBD II systems are designed to alert drivers if a vehicle's emissions systems are not working correctly and signal them that their vehicle should be repaired. At the same time, OBD II systems were designed to help automotive technicians locate and fix emissions-related problems quickly and easily.

The OBD II systems were installed in vehicles’ on-board computers — but here is where the problem began. Automakers claimed that access to their on-board computers was proprietary information and said they could withhold information about how to access the computers as a trade secret — the "OBD Lock Out."

Without access to the computerized systems, independent auto repair shops would be unable to repair new vehicles — they would have to be returned to the dealer for any system repairs, giving new car manufacturers a virtual monopoly on servicing their product.

In addition, many auto parts manufacturers — who would not have the capability to make sure their new parts were compatible with the on-board systems — would be driven out of business.

Faced with virtual extinction, the aftermarket has fought back for several years (as those of you who read the Booster are well aware). The automakers have not been sitting idly by, however, but have been actively working to make sure that they would not be required to "open the hood" and make their technology available to anyone they did not officially designate — that is, their OE suppliers.

Under the terms of the bill, SB 1146 would require full access to all emissions related service information, enhanced diagnostic tools and reprogramming capabilities. It would also require disclosure of information to assist aftermarket manufacturers build parts that work properly with OBDII systems.

The bill would also require the California Air Resources Board and the Bureau of Consumer Affairs give annual reports to the State Legislature regarding the availability of competitive parts and repairs for emissions related systems. Manufacturers will still have the ability to petition the courts for trade secret protection for a specific engine element, while still requiring disclosure if necessary to provide for competition in the aftermarket.

The bill would also prohibit the use of any encryption or defeat devices that would prevent the installation of a non-original equipment part.


PPG Industries, Inc. has announced plans to grow in the aftermarket by merging with GlasPac Total Solutions (GTS), a producer of software for the auto glass replacement industry.

PPG says it will use GTS to build an electronic network of services that will be available to aftermarket users of its products.

The new Portland, OR.-based company, to be named GTS Services, LLC following the merger, has installed its application in more than 3,200 glass installation and replacement shops in the United States and Canada.

GTS Services will operate as a separate company, providing computer software, hardware, support and electronic data exchange services. Its software includes products for accounting, invoicing, and auto and flat glass estimating.

GTS was originally formed in 1996 when the country's two largest glass software companies, GlasPac and Total Solutions, merged.

"Offering e-business services will help installers capitalize on new technology without making huge capital investments," said Dan Czekalski, newly appointed vice president of sales and marketing for GTS Services.

Originally published in the November 2000 issue of Automotive Booster of California.
Copyright 2000 by KAL Publications Inc.

Covering the California auto parts aftermarket since 1928.