Silverstein: Unpacking the NASTF Static 

April 26, 2024
What the crux of the matter is in a recent online uproar and what it means for shop owners.

On March 11, the National Automotive Service Task Force released a statement that caused an online uproar. I haven’t read this much passionate discourse since Colin Kaepernick chose not to stand during the national anthem.

Entitled, “Aftermarket Scan Tool Validation Program,” the statement outlines new requirements for a locksmith or auto tech to obtain a NASTF VSP ID to use a scan tool to perform specific security functions. These functions include adding a key, all keys lost, immobilizer functions, and any other process that the OE determines to be security-related. The aim is to reduce auto theft by thieves using professional-grade scan tools.

Proponents state that the new program will: 

  1. Reduce auto and scan tool theft because the thief will not have the ability to access the immobilizer/security system.

  2. Help to prevent assaults on locksmiths who are victims of violence as they are targeted for theft of their scan tools.

  3. Help to prevent the loss of livelihood to locksmiths whose tools are stolen. 

  4. Help to remove those actors in the marketplace who do not operate legitimate businesses and will therefore level the playing field. 

Opponents state the new program: 

  1. Has little to do with anything other than limiting insurance company losses to bolster profit. 

  2. Doesn’t address the lack of context and transparency when vehicle theft figures are discussed as many questions are left unanswered (e.g., What percentage of reported stolen vehicles can be directly attributed to the use of a scan tool? How many of those reported stolen were repossessions, or had the key fob left in the vehicle? How many vehicles were stolen during a crime like carjacking or drug deals where the thief was known to the victim?). 

  3. Will do little to slow vehicle theft. They point to data that indicate that of the most frequently stolen cars, trucks, and SUVs there are important issues that this program won’t address. The 2022 NICB reports nearly 60,000 Hyundai and Kia vehicles were stolen without an immobilizer installed by the OE manufacturer. This program will therefore do nothing to protect those model vehicles.

  4. That the top two most stolen vehicles—the 2004 Chevrolet Silverado and the 2006 Ford F-150, with over 98,000 vehicles stolen—are aging and their numbers diminishing. They simply won’t be viable for much longer.

  5. Punishes the law-abiding tool owner who chooses not to participate and will be locked out because of the actions of criminals which is unjust. 

  6. Leaves room for restraint of trade by the OE manufacturers. They cite examples where parts are prohibited from being sold to non-VSP’s due to classification as ‘theft-related parts’ but this is nothing more than an excuse to funnel repairs to the dealer.  

My gut tells me this controversy isn’t going to end soon. This isn’t about protecting consumers, locksmiths, or property. It’s about protecting insurance company profits. The automotive insurance industry spent $84 million on lobbying in 2023. 

So, what can we do about it? NASTF isn’t the bad guy here, but you may not be able to tell. Remember, NASTF isn’t a government agency, it’s a 501(c)(6) organization that was established in part by the automakers. They don’t profit from this. Ask yourself: Are the automakers required to pass along security information? (Hint: they’re not.) What would happen to our ability to repair cars if NASTF didn’t exist? There’s a tough pill that we in the automotive aftermarket have to swallow, and it’s this: we exist because of the OE manufacturers. We’re here because they are and not the other way around. NASTF and Donny Seyfer aren’t the bad guys here, they’re just the unfortunate folks who are left with the unenviable task of feeding us a crap sandwich created by nameless corporate executives in the insurance industry whose focus is on profit.   

About the Author

R. Dutch Silverstein | Owner

R. “Dutch” Silverstein, who earned his Accredited Automotive Manager Certificate from AMI, owns and operates A&M Auto Service, a seven-bay, eight-lift shop in Pineville, North Carolina.

 

Dutch was a captain for a major airline earning type ratings in a variety of aircraft including the Boeing 767/757, 737, 200, 300, and 400 series, Airbus 319/320/321, McDonnell Douglas MD80/DC9 and Fokker FK-28 mk 4000 and 1000. After medically retiring, he transitioned his part-time auto repair business into a full-time occupation.

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