EPA Confirms Aftermarket Right to Service Heavy Duty Vehicles
The Automotive Parts Remanufacturers Association (APRA) recently announced that it had received confirmation from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that nothing in EPA’s rule requiring On-Board-Diagnostics (OBD) systems for heavy duty applications was intended to prevent aftermarket facilities from servicing heavy duty vehicles and engines. APRA had questioned EPA about certain language in its final heavy duty OBD rule which, if taken literally, seemed to absolve the heavy duty engine manufacturers from liability for its statutory emissions warranty if work was performed on the engine by an aftermarket company. In its response, EPA agreed that “allowing manufacturers to deny warranty claims solely because the service was performed by an independent service provider is not permitted by the Clear Air Act.”
On February 24, 2009, EPA published its final regulation on the OBD requirements for heavy duty vehicles. This regulation also included provisions which required heavy duty engine manufacturers to provide independent service providers with the service information necessary to service the engine and other parts monitored by the OBD system. As it had done in California previously, APRA actively worked with EPA to insure that the service information provisions provided as much access to information for independent heavy duty service facilities as possible.
However, when the final prepublication version of the rule was made available to APRA, it contained a provision which had not previously been discussed. This provision stated, "Manufacturers will not have any emissions warranty, in-use compliance, defect reporting or recall liability for service on a heavy-duty engine that is not undertaken by the manufacturer, for any damage caused by their own tools in the hands of independent service providers, or for the use and misuse of third party tools.”
As written, this language would appear to release a manufacturer from all statutory warranty liability if an independent service provider worked on the engine during the warranty period. If such were the case, no heavy duty vehicle owner could feel safe taking his heavy duty vehicle to an independent service provider during the warranty period for fear that he might void his warranty. This would result in a substantial loss of business for aftermarket service facilities.
In a letter to EPA objecting to the language, APRA’s general counsel, Michael Conlon, demonstrated how this language was overbroad, violated the Clean Air Act and needed to be removed from the regulation. EPA quickly advised Mr. Conlon that it “did not intend for this provision to absolve the manufacturers from their warranty or any other statutory obligations.”
In conclusion EPA stated, “Therefore, we want to clarify that this provision does not allow manufacturers to deny warranty claims or otherwise limit their obligations with respect to a heavy-duty engine (1) because emission-related service and repair of that engine was performed by an independent service provider; (2) because emission-related service and repair of the engine was performed by an independent service provider using the manufacturer’s tools; or (3) because emission-related service and repair of that engine was performed by an independent service provider using third party tools.”
The Automotive Parts Remanufacturers Association is an international trade association representing those companies which remanufacture and rebuild parts for use in cars, trucks, buses, motorcycles and off-road vehicles. It is based in Chantilly, Virginia. For over 65 years APRA and its members have been promoting the recycling and reuse of motor vehicle parts as good for the environment and America as well as offering consumers a lower cost alternative to new parts for vehicles. For more information, visit www.apra.org.