Attention all Automotive Aftermarket Repair Shops! The cost of business is going up…again.
Just when you thought things are getting back to some kind of normal, along comes a flyball right in the face.
If any of you technicians out there have recently attempted to scan an FCA vehicle that was built after January 31, 2018 you may have been unpleasantly surprised by a message on your scan tool that reads “ACCESS DENIED!”. What the heck is this, I just spent nine hundred bucks to upgrade my scan tools software!
What happened was you just became a victim of our governments efforts to motivate automobile manufacturers to do something to protect John Q Public’s car from being hacked. This all stems from a situation that occurred back in 2015. Two hackers named Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek took control of a late model Jeep Grand Cherokee driven by news reporter Andy Greenberg. Andy was outfitted with sound and video equipment and took off in the Jeep with the intension of letting Charlie and Chris remotely take control of various systems controlling the Jeep.
So, from 10 miles away in their basement sitting on a couch Charlie and Chris took control of the Chrysler Uconnect System and were able to enable phone calls, and with a subscription purchase, offer a Wi-Fi Hot Spot. In addition, they took control of the vehicle messaging system and steered and accelerated the Jeep off the road, the braking system was also affected.
This whole scenario was recorded and aired on the popular TV news show 60 Minutes which prompted FCA engineering to develop the SGW, The Secure Gateway module.
So, you may ask, what is an SGW, this is a module that contains proprietary software that can block any attempt to perform vehicle system diagnostics. It will let your scan tool in as a “read only” device which means you can view codes and some data, but you will not be able to clear codes, perform adaptive resets or use bi-directional control as well as a number of other diagnostic functions that you have been used to doing.
So, what does this mean, am I done working on cars and trucks that have this device? The answer is no, you will be able to continue the work you do but at a cost but, you knew that was coming.
Enter stage right, AutoAuth, Auto Authenticity Authority, so who the heck are they? They are an independently owned and operated service working in conjunction with the OE automakers and independent tool venders which provide a service for independent repair facilities to unlock vehicles and allow their scan tools to function in a complete diagnostic format.
You have to go online to www.autoauth.com and register all your current scan tools. If for some reason the tool that you have is not supported, then I would recommend that you contact the manufacturer of that tool and ask them for assistance. My recommendation is if you are thinking about purchasing a new tool, I would find out first to see if it is supported on the SGW protocol before purchasing the tool. You will have to register the scan tool serial number with AutoAuth and then pay fifty dollars as an annual fee which will allow six users. An additional two dollars will be charged for each additional user. That tool is now registered to that shop…period. The owner of the tool must also register and provide a credit card to the FCA facilitator and pay an annual fee.
If you mess this procedure up, you will not be able to access the SGW and you will have to start the process over again.
Now, here’s the bad part, as you know each automaker has their own way of doing things which means what I’ve just described is FCAs way. All the other automakers will eventually jump on this band wagon, they will have their own price structures and their own procedures for accessing their SGW.
Is there a way around this…YES, thanks to people who are smarter than this writer, bypass devices have already been made available.
What you see above are two examples of SGW module bypass devices, these devices can run anywhere for sixty-four to eighty dollars. You simply disconnect the SGW module connectors (2) and connect the bypass device to the SGW connectors, these devices fool the SGW into believing you are not a hacker and will allow full access to diagnostic procedures. There are more details to this story that will come to light in the near future……stay tuned.
Unfortunately, today the world is not as safe as it used to be. Hacking into a vehicle to alter the brake system or steering control system can be a very serious thing. The lives of your customers and those that are on the road with them could be put at serious risk.
Between altering the vehicle’s guidance systems or accessing the vehicle owner’s personal information from the radio or cell phone can have catastrophic consequences. As a result of this type of terrorism, aftermarket technicians everywhere will be forced to comply or become a dinosaur.