Road safety has been an ongoing area of research and development ever since cars first became a commercially viable commodity. But despite crash-readiness devices like stronger frames and more efficient airbags being a standard fitment in just about all modern vehicles, there is still a lot of work to be done. This is where Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (or ADAS) come in. These systems aim at improving road safety not by preparing drivers in the event of a road accident, but rather by helping them avoid accidents altogether by giving drivers a heightened awareness of the road and traffic conditions around them. Innovative technologies like adaptive cruise control, parking assist sensors, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, and blind-spot monitoring fall into the new category of vehicle systems known as ADAS.
Thanks to the safety benefits on offer, these systems have become rather common today, with many coming as standard equipment even on base models – and that is having a drastic impact on how these vehicles are repaired and how much the repairs cost.
According to new research from the American Automobile Association (AAA), for vehicles equipped with ADAS, the repair bill for a minor damage to windshields, bumpers and door mirrors or even something as simple as frame straightening can run as high as $5,300, which is more or less three times the repair cost for a vehicle without the sophisticated technology. And if you think about it, it makes perfect sense.
With the new technologies also come new challenges when the features need repairing or servicing. After all, some of these technologies are so new and complex that it can be difficult for professionals in the collision repair and mechanical service industry to know where to begin.
Just how complex is ADAS repair really?
Did you know that the replacement of an OEM door shell on a 2016 Ford Expedition – a car loaded to the gills with technology – entails 13 different procedures, seven of which involve complex electronics? Well, that is what the industry consultant at VECO (Vehicle Collision) Experts ‘Mark Olsen’ claims. Now, if that door shell needs to be repaired, simply replacing the sensors is pretty straightforward and can be performed by most mechanics. However, to restore the system to proper operation, it must be calibrated, which requires special training, proper auto body equipment, and complete information.
The problem is that most repair shops seem to be terrified about the potential for liability in doing ADAS calibrations when the more significant issue is the liability for not doing them. For example, many vehicle manufacturers today require or strongly recommend an ADAS calibration after a wheel alignment. However, there are still many repair shops out there doing wheel alignments without performing ADAS calibrations. These shops are doing nothing to inform the consumer that their vehicle is being handed back to them without it being correctly calibrated, risking their safety while they are on the road. Doing that could hold the shop liable in the event of a road accident in which the consumer suffers injuries.
Is there a lack of information on the subject?
Despite the fact that service information is readily available on the manufacturer’s site, unfortunately, the availability of repair information and the actual use of this information are often two different things in the automotive repair industry. Most technicians are more than likely to skip over the fine print or basic instructions before they get into an actual diagnostic and repair procedure. And it is those preliminary instructions that give them the details about how they have to carry out the process and calibrate the ADAS later on. What’s more? Some shops also believe that a fault code will inform them if the vehicle needs to be calibrated – but the thing is, no car today has a fault code for a system out of calibration!
There’s a lack of understanding with ADAS
Are repair shops grasping this advanced technology? Not really!
Prior to being a Director of Sales and Training at AUTEL Automotive, George Lesniak visited a repair shop in Raleigh, NC, to see how the business was working with the latest in automotive technology. The experience opened his eyes even wider to the misconceptions driving many shops in the wrong direction with ADAS. 10 out of 12 vehicles in the shop had forward-facing cameras, but the service manager told him, “We don’t see vehicles with that stuff.” The shop was virtually clueless as to what was actually in front of them. Rick Zirbes, founder and President at Smart Express, also witnessed technicians trying to carry out ADAS procedures without proper consideration for what is even involved. Despite specific calibration requirements put in place by OEM manufacturers for calibration procedures to be performed in a specific way, he says he has seen calibration attempts in dimly lit and small parking lots. Nick Mattera, president, of Innovative Solutions & Technology, in Lincoln Park, NJ, a leading distributor of automotive equipment, also has concerns that even some of the most seasoned and reputed repair facilities are still scrambling to keep up with ADAS. He says that some of these facilities do not have a firm grasp on how to address servicing the vehicles kitted with such advanced safety technology.
Repair Shops Need to Prepare For The Coming Influx of ADAS-Equipped Vehicles
What was a seemingly exotic concept a decade ago has now become a reality that must be acknowledged and addressed. Advanced safety systems are not that terribly expensive or exotic anymore. They are standard in mainstream, economical vehicles such as Toyota Corolla, Nissan Altima, and Honda Civic. It is only inevitable then that ADAS will soon become a critical part of even the smallest of repair jobs in the future – and repair shops need to be prepared for the changes in order to accommodate the growths of ADAS.
Innovative Solutions & Technology is your collision repair equipment distributor. We are a full-service facility committed to providing world-class products, training, and support to collision repair shops in New Jersey, New York, and eastern Pennsylvania. Visit our online store and keep up with company and industry news by following our blog. We are a full-service facility committed to providing world-class products, training, and support to collision repair shops in New Jersey, New York, and eastern Pennsylvania. Visit our online store and keep up with company and industry news by following our blog.