True or False: OEM Information Is Available?

by John Norris

Originally published in Collision Quarterly, Fall 2018

Nine years after the CASIS Agreement was signed, there still seems to be some confusion regarding the availability of manufacturers’ diagnostic and repair information.

The Canadian Automotive Service Information Standard (CASIS) agreement, signed in 2009 and fully implemented early in 2010, provides OEM service and repair information, tools and equipment available to authorized new car dealers in Canada. It is also available to aftermarket repairers. Each manufacturer has a technical information website that can be accessed by subscription, offered in multiple duration options (short, medium, long-term) at reasonable pricing.

Today, service, and repair information for practically all vehicles sold in Canada is readily available. Most collision repair data is available (some at no charge), with a few exceptions. Hyundai, for example, does not have collision repair data to provide, not even to their dealers. “Today, service and repair information for practically all vehicles sold in Canada is readily available.”

As well, approximately 83 percent of all security data is available to approved security professionals through a trust agreement with OEMs in Canada.

In some cases, where manufacturers are not actually part of the agreement, repair information is available nonetheless. For example, you can get data for Bugatti, Bentley Lamborghini, Sprinter, Crossfire, Alfa Romeo, and most up to Class 8 trucks.

Additionally, through arrangements with partners in the United States, repair information can be obtained for Ferrari and Maserati, however, Lotus, Konesigg, Pagani, McLaren, Fischer, Karma, and some other small volume car makers is not available.

The CASIS agreement is essentially a MoU (Memorandum of Understanding), which is voluntary. As such, some critics claim it has no teeth because it lacks an enforcement mechanism. In reality, the manufacturers understand that failure to follow the agreement would result in legislative action, which they prefer to avoid.

The Canadian program closely matches the one in the United States, managed by the National Automotive Service Task Force (NASTF), which is also voluntary.

There is a feature on the CASIS website (oemrepairinfo.ca) whereby users can report gaps in information availability should they discover any. Very few such inquiries or complaints have been received. Between June 2016 and January 2018, no service information requests (SIRs) or complaints were received at all.

Inquires can also be made by telephone to a toll-free number (1-866-309-4272). Fewer than ten calls have been received in the last eight years. Those that were received were typically from outside Canada or were in regard to an issue caused by a user’s web browser or Internet connection, a failed subscription or an equipment restriction, all of which were resolved in a timely manner.

Inquiries related to the Vehicle Security Professional program are more frequent. Between the U.S. and Canadian systems, some 20 to 22 inquiries per week are fielded on security issues. To put this into perspective, there are approximately 20,000 VSP transactions per week. Most inquiries relate to lost or forgotten passwords.

According to a report in Canadian Auto Repair & Service Magazine, May 2018, the Automotive Industries Association (AIA Canada), one of the CASIS partners, conducted a survey of over 1,000 repair shops earlier this year to determine whether the CASIS agreement is working. Although the full survey results have not been published, the AIA stated that one of the findings was that the OEM websites were not being used enough.

“Assuming the AIA survey results are valid, it is apparent that 41 percent of shops do use the CASIS and OEM websites.”

The AIA said that 59 percent of the shops surveyed do not visit the CASIS website or the OEM repair information websites. 52 percent of (presumably the same 1,000) shops said they do not reflash or reprogram vehicles in-house.

There is a direct relationship between those numbers. Shops have long subscribed to third-party information suppliers such as Alldata, Mitchell, or Identifix for their day-to-day repair information needs. But if a vehicle component needs to be reprogrammed or initialized, the software patch (or “flash”) can only be obtained via the OEM websites. That is precisely why the CASIS agreement came about.

Taking the quoted AIA survey results at face value, it can be extrapolated that 41 percent of all shops surveyed, and 93 percent of shops that do reprogramming, do use the CASIS and OEM websites. So, is the glass half empty, or half full? The question that should be asked is, why are more than half of the shops not performing reprogramming?

The current CASIS marketing program attempts to raise awareness of this valuable resource for repair shops. The VSP program had 1.03 million transactions last year between Canada and the United States. 97 percent of users received their requested data in less than three seconds. A website, findavsp.ca, lists all authorized security professionals in Canada. These shops can also access Mercedes-Benz Theft Related Parts as per the program outline on OEMrepairinfo.ca

 Service information typically available for every car in Canada includes:

  • J2534 applications
  • Collision data (free for General Motors and Chrysler)
  • All service information, including for new cars
  • Vehicle scan services
  • Mode $06 data links
  • Calibration updates
  • Vehicle security information access
  • Certified collision centre information
  • RTS collision data for each car line
  • Uniform procedures for collision repair
  • Manufacturer position statements
  • Hybrid/electric updates
  • Key code access
  • OEM training
  • An ALERTS section for daily OEM updates
  • Sample repair and diagnostic videos
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Service Information Request forms
  • Canada VIN decoder
  • Build data for most makes
  • Vehicle security access matrix
  • OEM programming (sorted alphabetically by manufacturer)
  • Transport Canada recall data
  • My Car Does What?
  • Crashrepairinfo.com
  • OEM calibration requirements
  • Database Enhancement Gateway

Please feel free to call the CASIS information line anytime at 1-866-309-4272. It is usually open 7 days a week until 10:00 pm (EST).