SCANNING THE SCENE

How the aftermarket’s value is being drained by high-tech tricks

BY ELIZABETH SARGEANT

The value of undrivable vehicles could go up significantly if auto parts customers had access to the same vehicle scanning technology given to auto repair facilities. For towing professionals, this means that the value of their specialized cargo is not being realized to its full potential.

“Because there’s no Interchange telling us what will work and what won’t work in other vehicles, recyclers aren’t taking these parts off of the car. There is a labour cost, and if there is no chance of recovering that by selling parts, then it is a dead cost,” says Pat Ryan, a services consultant at auto paint firm Akzo Nobel.

It is a problem that Ryan first encountered in 2016.

At the time, he wanted to do a project in which he and his coworkers would use the same type of technology that body shops use to scan cars in recyclers inventory, in order to determine which of the electronic components were still usable and resellable in a novel and efficient way.

“We embarked on this project and ended up hitting a very big dead end. A lot of these components were ‘married’ to the car,” says Ryan. “When an auto part is married to the car, its technology is tied to the vehicle’s VIN number, leaving it virtually useless when reattached to a different vehicle.”

While features such as door mirrors, tail lights, and lane departure warning modules seem to be easily reintegrated into new vehicles – ECM, PCM, and other core electronic components can not. For auto recyclers, this is nothing short of a disaster. “Every car being recycled has at least four or five of these major components alongside a whole series of micro-component. Some of them are marriable and some of them are not,” Ryan explained.

According to Ryan, this isn’t only hurtful to recycler’s businesses, but to the environment. “It’s a tremendous environmental issue. We’re landfilling a whole bunch of stuff that really is recyclable so at this point in time without the Interchange and not being able to take these modules back to their original state it really holding us back.”

As secondary beneficiaries of rises in auto parts prices, towing professionals could play a role in pushing for a resolution to the issue. “If industry stakeholders were to fund a project to solve this issue, the solution would be ahead.” CTP

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