How Repair Shops Can Prep for Newer Vehicles
April 16, 2020—To be successful in repairing cars with advanced driver assistance systems, Donny Seyfer says business owners need to focus their attention on tooling up for cars that are model years 2011 through 2015.
Seyfer, executive officer for the National Automotive Service Task Force (NASTF) says that the "sweet spot" in repairing vehicles are the 2011-2015 model year cars, because shops should be seeing enough volume in work from these models.
For those model years, a small percentage of them have cameras in the car and not many of the cameras have to be recalibrated in the course of general repair, he says.
In order to invest smartly in tools and equipment to repair not only 2011-2015 models but newer model cars that are coming equipped with more ADAS equipment like automatic emergency braking, Seyfer recommends a shop becomes an expert in one area of repair or specializes.
"I think you have to be specialized by service or brand," he says. "It can be any combination of items, like maybe the shop only specializes in doing ADAS calibration on one brand because that brand presents a lot of opportunity in the market they're in and they can get good at it or the repair shop only works on Asian and American vehicles to become really good at repairing that type of car."
Seyfer lays out his tips for securing the right tools and equipment to repair the 2011-2015 model cars that shops are seeing today.
Tip #1: Your shop needs to invest in scan tools.
The repair shop has to invest in the right scan tools for vehicles coming into the shop. There are manufacturer tools available or a shop can choose an aftermarket tool.
The shop needs to determine if its performing passive calibrations or active calibrations, he says. A passive calibration is done in the shop, possibly following vehicle alignment. An active calibration is when the car needs to be test-driven to perform a calibration. Newer car systems like model year 2019 and 2020 require a blend of the two as well.
Tip #2: Determine what services you do and invest for those.
It's important to narrow down what services the repair shop is offering. For instance, if the shop team can't perform alignments, then the shop should not look into doing more ADAS repairs, Seyfer says.
Seyfer sees the industry going towards more PC-based scan tools and thus, shops need to invest in an over-the-counter laptop that can do the job but does not cost a lot of money. Invest in a laptop that costs about $300 to $500 so the shop can perform more scans at once and not break the bank if the laptops break. The scan tool initial investment should cost between $2,000 and $5,000. Software updates for the scan tools might cost an additional $500 every year, depending on the type of subscription.
Tip #3: Every shop needs to invest in these two tools.
Seyfer highly urges every shop operator to invest in alignment equipment and a J2534 reprogramming and diagnostic automotive scan tool. Alignment equipment will cost the shop about $50,000 to $60,000 of an initial investment.
A J2534 box can range from $400 to $3,000. A shop operator needs to determine if the shop is better equipped with one box per vehicle or whether it can only use one box for the shop. However, he says to reflect on whether having one box creates bottlenecks for the shop workflow.