Tools for the 21st Century
Five things you don’t know about NASTF & the VSP Registry – but should.
Thirteen years ago, a group of individuals and organizations came together to create the next step in automotive service technology. It was built on the idea that technology itself presents a solution to one of the most challenging tasks faced by those in the business of automotive service and repair – accessing the exploding amount of information necessary to diagnose and repair some of the most complex products ever devised by man.
The founding fathers represent some of the most important and well-known names in the automotive industry. It was also a unique opportunity for all segments of the industry to come together for the common good of providing the best in world-class automotive service and repair for the American public. What they built has withstood the test of time and represents the best our industry has to offer. The only problem is that not enough of the service and repair community is aware of just how important this is to their success in the 21st century.
If the acronym NASTF is unfamiliar to you, read on. If it is familiar to you, read on. Either way, I guarantee you’ll learn something important.
What is NASTF?
The National Automotive Service Task Force (NASTF) is a cooperative effort among the automotive service industry, the equipment and tool industry and automobile manufacturers (OEMs) to ensure that automotive service professionals employed outside the OEMs franchise system have the information, training and tools needed to properly diagnose and repair today’s high tech vehicles.
NASTF was established in the fall of 2000 as a national successor to a pilot program in Arizona during 1999 and 2000. In the Arizona pilot program, these groups learned that they shared the common objective of ensuring swift and proper repair of customer vehicles, and that the best way to improve current information gaps was to work constructively to improve the delivery systems for that information.
In the 21st century, information is king. Today’s rapidly advancing and changing technologies are adding enormous amounts of information that automotive service professionals have to access and manage in the day-to-day process of keeping America moving. But if technology is the problem, it’s also the solution, and the Internet and other advancements offer the opportunities to address these issues. In short, the National Automotive Service Task Force facilitates the identification and correction of gaps in the availability and accessibility of automotive service information, training, diagnostic tools and equipment as well as communications to automotive service professionals.
“NASTF was formed to connect OEMs and independent techs and our role appears to become more important with time,” says Skip Potter, the executive director of NASTF. “As vehicle technology advances and the complexity of vehicle service information grows, the OEM is ever-more directly connected to the independent tech – whether in discussions around the NASTF conference tables, online with OEM service information websites or in partnerships with traditional third party aftermarket information services.”
What is the VSP Registry?
Information not only poses management challenges, it raises security issues as well. To address this aspect of 21st century service, the NASTF Vehicle Security Professional (VSP) Registry was built. It’s a service created by the NASTF Vehicle Security Committee from the NASTF Secure Data Release Model (SDRM) project. SDRM is basically a secure data exchange system (see graphic).
What is now called the VSP Registry was conceived and designed cooperatively by automakers, the independent repair, insurance and law enforcement communities to allow the aftermarket access to security sensitive information related to automobiles, including key codes, PIN numbers, immobilizer reset information and similar types of information. The NASTF VSP Registry program allows this access to security-related information while protecting the safety and security of consumers and the integrity of automobile security systems. USA-resident* locksmiths and service technicians qualified in vehicle security system repairs need a subscription to the NASTF VSP Registry to purchase security codes and VIN-specific computer files directly from the OEM/automaker. Most automakers/OEMs make this information available instantly from their websites 24/7/365.
Shop owner and ASA Chairman Donny Seyfer sees the VSP as an integral part of helping independent shops succeed as these security concerns become a larger factor in the service and repair process. “Currently, the VSP is being used by most manufacturers to provide secure and screened access to key codes used to make keys and pin or immobilizer codes for the vehicles that need them during a replacement of a module that is security related,” Seyfer says. “Mercedes has a unique application using the Locksmith ID number (LSID) to control the purchase of theft-related parts (TRP). They have a form on their website that the LSID holder must fill out and submit when buying these parts from the dealer.
“The availability of these parts to the independent collision and mechanical repair shops was a long time coming and was successful because of NASTF. Several ASA members and a diligent group of specialists convinced Mercedes that its vehicles were safe in our hands. This is why the NASTF process is so important.”
How does the VSP Registry work?
The NASTF VSP Registry provides safeguards to automakers and their customers to allow access to security-related service information, tools and components to the independent service community. NASTF VSP Registry provides consumer choice by ensuring that vehicle owners can choose any service providers who have access to security-related information, tools and components necessary to service their vehicles. However, this independent access comes with certain responsibilities and controls for security-related information and tools by the owners of these resources – the automaker and the consumer. To safeguard this information, no outside entity has access to, or control of, the manufacturer’s or consumer’s data without strict security protocols and oversight. The VSP Registry also improves indemnity (compared to many current practices) for automakers from legal actions resulting from the unauthorized use, misuse or illegal use of any security-related information.
The NASTF VSP Registry ensures that responsibility for governance of independent repairers falls on the independent auto care industry, not automakers. The NASTF VSP Registry also meets insurance industry expectations for security with respect to release of security-related information.
How do you join NASTF and the VSP Registry?
Signing up is easy and everything is done online at www.nastf.org. You’ll find the links to the VSP Registry there as well. The VSP Registry requires a more extensive registration process due the security requirements for obtaining an LSID number. You’ll find everything you need to know on the website, along with contact information for specific questions. You can also sign up for email alerts and updates to keep up with the changes.
Which OEM manufacturers have service information available through NASTF? Virtually all of them. The list runs from Acura to Volvo and even has links to the likes of exotic marques such as Aston Martin, Rolls Royce, Ferrari and Lamborghini. If it’s driving on the highways of America, the manufacturer is represented on the NASTF links page on their website.
If you haven’t already incorporated NASTF and the VSP Registry into your business model, it’s something worth considering. As we move forward, the need for information access and security will continue to grow, and both NASTF and the VSP Registry will be there to provide the answers. Together, they provide an elegant solution to one of the greatest challenges facing the independent service community today and in the years ahead.
Twenty-five years ago, as the managing editor of Motor Age magazine, I wrote an editorial about the importance diagnostics would play in the ’90s. The sentiment expressed back then still applies in describing the importance of access embodied in NASTF and the VSP Registry to your business. The updated version changes just one word in the final sentence of that editorial and applies here: Information is the rock upon which castles will be built in the 21st century.
NASTF FOUNDING PARTNERS (2006)
- Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers
- Associated Locksmiths of America
- Association of Global Automakers
- Automotive Service Association
- Automotive Service Councils of California
- Equipment & Tool Institute
- International Automotive Technicians Network
- Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association
- Motor Information Systems
- National Automobile Dealers Association
- National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence
*Canadian VSPs may be eligible to participate in the Canadian program. Email John Norris in British Columbia at firstname.lastname@example.org. NASTF is unaware of any similar registry in other countries. Contact local automaker agents