Software bugs are increasingly becoming the focus of tech disputes

By Lurah Bassey
Legal | Market Trends | Technology

As with any new technology, especially software, it’s no surprise to vehicle owners that there are bugs and updates, but a recent A New York Times article points out that consumers have an additional concern with such technologies – security. And while class litigation has focused on automakers, the correlation can certainly be drawn as to why repairers need to follow OEM repair procedures and document those steps to avoid any resulting technological issues that could attract the pay attention to them.

Software that exploits in-car infotainment screens, rear-view cameras, and/or audio that cuts out or increases unexpectedly has been the source of lawsuits against OEMs for years. Although touchscreens are not intrinsically linked to vehicle safety measures, “the plaintiffs have successfully argued that a faulty dashboard display is a serious distraction and a potential safety hazard,” according to the article. from the NYT.

Subaru, Honda/Acura and Ford have shelled out millions of dollars in software-related lawsuit settlements — $8 million by Subaru for a class action lawsuit over vehicle screens that went blank, about $30 million by Honda and Acura for a similar issue, and $17 million by Ford for defects in the MyFord Touch system, according to the NYT.

Even Tesla, whose software is created in-house, is facing a class action lawsuit over its Model S and X models that were built before 2018 and have touchscreen issues. Last year, Tesla recalled more than 100,000 Model S and X models built before March 2018 because their touch screens could fail. Tesla planned to update the software and replace the 8GB embedded multimedia card (eMMC) in the multimedia control unit (MCU) “which may malfunction due to accumulated wear,” according to the website. of Tesla.

Software capabilities are a difficult headache for OEMs due to constantly required updates. Think about your smartphone. Updates are frequent, but it’s not so simple for vehicles.

Mark Wakefield, co-head of the automotive and industrial practice at consulting firm AlixPartners, told The New York Times: “The time window for developing vehicles and installing hardware in those vehicles is quite different from a mobile phone. When a vehicle is done, it’s done. The software is never really finished.

And like a a recent Reuters article highlights, software capabilities will only increase in vehicles. “Software is playing an increasing role in vehicles, from managing electric motors and batteries to supporting functions such as autonomous driving, entertainment and navigation.”

Also, more and more OEMs may start to launch their own software vendors. Toyota plans to have its own operating system in its vehicles by 2025 and said it would offer it “in the future” to its subsidiaries, including Suburu. Volkswagen is also working on its own software for release by 2025 as if Mercedes-Benz, which plans to launch its own operating system by 2024.

Along with the importance of including detailed line notes in estimates, documenting the entire repair process is of utmost importance, according to CEO Mike Anderson and Database Enhancement Gateway Administrator (DEG ) Danny Gredinberg.

In a recent “Quick Tips” video posted by the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS), Anderson said workshops should:

  • Document unrelated damage to avoid being blamed later;
  • Take photos of damage, computerized printouts, pre-alignment specs, scan reports, OEM owner’s manual, etc. to prove the work of the workshop in order to be reimbursed by a third-party payer; and
  • Take photos of out-of-ESM calibration procedures, stall preparation, and vehicle preparation for liability purposes.

Gredinberg noted that some stores also take videos as documentation.


Featured Image Credit: Luis Wollitzer/iStock

More information

AV & Insurance Litigation: No definitive answer as to who is at fault; Key to OEM procedures to avoid liability

GM Executives, Lucid and Rivian Discuss Repair Tips for Electric Vehicles at OEM Summit at SEMA 2021

NTSB says failure to follow OEM procedures resulted in $2.2 million vessel colliding with dock

Share this:


Idaho House approves some secret cybersecurity files


US and Israel to announce new framework for cybersecurity collaboration on Wednesday

Check Also