Ask Mike: Where Do You Stand on the Major Aftermarket Scan Tool and Blend Studies?
by Mike Anderson
This month, we “ASK MIKE” for his thoughts on recent industry studies on blend operations and aftermarket scan tools. (Links to both studies appear at the conclusion of this feature.) We at Hammer & Dolly hope you find the following exchange useful, and we encourage you to reach out to us if you have a question for Mike on this or any industry-related matter that he can answer in a future issue.
Hammer & Dolly: Mike, you’ve been very outspoken against aftermarket scan tools in the past. Since we know this topic is very close to your heart, we would be remiss if we didn’t explore the field study* conducted by Repairify that the company discussed at the OEM Collision Repair Technology Summit during SEMA 2022. As an example of the study’s findings as reported by Repairer Driven News, an aftermarket tool missed two DTCs that an OEM tool found for the ABS module on a 2017 Toyota Camry. What do you think of this and the other information that Repairify has shared from its study?
Mike Anderson: Let me start by saying that if you took price out of the equation, everyone would use OEM, right? Now, let’s talk about speed. If an aftermarket scan tool is not checking all of the same modules, then it’s going to be faster. The study says what most of us in the industry already know, but a lot of people want to be in denial about it. I don’t mean to be such a negative Nelly, but our industry really needs to wake up and understand that using an OEM scan tool is the way to go.
We’re working on newer vehicles. Aftermarket scan tools work on the service side because those shops are working on vehicles that are older and usually out of warranty. They usually deal with drivability problems and mechanical-type issues. It is not uncommon for a collision shop to have a brand-new vehicle come in for repairs that has a temporary tag – being a current model year – and was just driven off the dealer lot. People can’t look at the collision repair industry and the mechanical industry as the same thing; they are two separate beasts.
I appreciate any entity that does a study to educate people that there is a difference between OEM and aftermarket scan tools. If you scan using an aftermarket tool, you don’t really know if it’s doing the right thing. We’re using something that’s untested and unproven. It’s like playing Russian roulette…at some point, somebody’s going to get hurt or God forbid killed!
We have a moral obligation to do the right thing. If we say, ‘It’s okay to use an aftermarket scan tool on this job,’ that’s like saying, ‘I don’t have to use this welder that was tested and approved by the OEM.’ It just opens up a big can of worms and doesn’t have the consumers’ best interests at heart.
We’re not allowing consumers to have a voice in this conversation. I feel like I have to speak up for them, because they don’t know any better. I’m frustrated that our industry is still having this conversation.
Jake Rodenroth of Lucid Motors once shared a great example with me. He told me that when a vehicle goes to a mechanical shop, it goes in for a very specific CONCERN – perhaps it won’t start or it won’t go into gear. The shop has to determine the CAUSE, and then they do the CORRECTION. The shop can use an aftermarket scan tool to determine that cause. In the case of a collision repair shop, a vehicle doesn’t come in with a specific cause; it comes in as ‘wrecked.’ We have to start off by CONFIRMING what is working and what is not working – and then we determine the CAUSE(S) and CORRECT the problem(s). That’s a huge difference. Aftermarket scan tools have a place – on the mechanical service side. They do NOT have a place in the collision repair industry.
H&D: On the subject of industry investigations, what are your thoughts on the recent Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS) Blend Study,** which concluded that blend time is greater than full refinish?
MA: First of all, I’m grateful for everything that SCRS does for our industry. For example, my company, Collision Advice, just started using SCRS’ 401(k) program. The blend study has opened up a lot of eyes and has posed a lot of questions. Where we go from here remains to be seen, but I don’t think SCRS could have presented it in a more fact-based way. The fact that SCRS brought in DEKRA North America as a third-party auditor adds credibility to the study. Kudos to SCRS for what it has done, and kudos to all the paint companies! It’s awesome for the industry that all the paint companies found a way to work together for the common purpose of doing the right thing.
While I’m really happy with the blend study, I’m even happier with the way SCRS has grown. The association is really focusing on things that make people’s lives and businesses better.
H&D: Obviously, any information like this that’s produced by the industry is useless unless shops actually do something with it. As a consultant, how would you get a shop fired up to utilize this information for its benefit?
MA: The first thing a shop needs to do is download the study and read it, and the shop needs to bring it to its paint companies and say, ‘Can you help me educate my staff about this?’ SCRS has done the preliminary work, but it’s up to the shops to get their paint manufacturers involved to better understand the additional labor required.
*More information on Repairify’s scan tool study is available at
**SCRS’ complete 2022 Blend Study Report is available at
Want more? Check out the April 2023 issue of Hammer & Dolly!