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From the Shop ADAPT Reports

Time to Re-Think Test Drive Documentation?

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Frank Terlep has immersed himself in the world of ADAS in recent months.

In February, Terlep helped launch the TechDrive CoPilot software for his fledgling company, Auto Techcelerators. And, the company co-founder has made it his mission to inform shop operators of the importance of doing detailed test drives on repaired vehicles—and properly documenting those test drives. The longtime collision repairer feels strongly that performing thorough test drives serves as one of the last quality assurance checkpoints in a shop's repair process.

"If you're not documenting everything—everything that's done on that vehicle—shame on you," Terlep said during a May 21 webinar. "That's a risk you should not be taking."

Lots of shops don't consistently perform test drives,Terlep added, "which, to me, is scary."

According to Auto Techcelerators research, by 2022 some 97 percent of all vehicles that are manufactured will be equipped with advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) like automatic emergency braking. And that technology needs to be consistently checked by shops via fully documented test drives, Terlep contends.

"Today, in 2020, 60 percent of the vehicle is made up of electronics and software," he said. "I think that's going to continue to increase, particularly with EVs.

"You're going to see cameras all over vehicles in the future."

According to a recent Who Pays for What survey produced by noted industry consultant Mike Anderson and Collision Advice, 26 percent of shop operators noted that they were getting reimbursed for performing test drives.

But, Terlp added, shop staffs shouldn't "just get singularly focused on getting reimbursed. Liability, documentation, quality, formal processes, all of that is important as well."

The May 21 webinar noted the challenges that shops with small shop staffs have with repairing all the current ADAS features. And that's a growing issue within the industry, in Terlep's view. The Auto Techcelerators co-founder believes that specialization is bound to continue increasing throughout the industry.

"Some consolidator organizations today are doing just that," Terlep said of specialization. "They're certifying specific locations in specific markets on specific OEM manufacturers."

The presentation included three attention-grabbing facts about calibrating ADAS features. Among them:

  1. "If the sensor is off 1 degree,at a distance of 330 feet, that equates to almost 6 feet," Terlep noted.
  2. If such a sensor is off 1 degree and a vehicle is traveling at 75 mph, the sensor will not see a vehicle in front of it until the distance is less than 2 seconds, or 200 feet, away.
  3. If a sensor is off vertically and a vehicle is traveling at 75 mph, the sensor won't see the vehicle in front of it until a distance of less than 100 feet.

Such small margins for error illustrate the importance of conducting detailed test drives, in the opinion of Auto Techcelerators.

"If you repair a vehicle and repair a GM," Terlep noted, "an you don't take the vehicle out to a speed of at least 35 miles per hour for at least 10 minutes, how do you know the lane-departure warning works? You don't."

Terlep noted that he occasionally drives rental vehicles with hundreds of miles on them that appear to have had their systems calibrated incorrectly.

"Just because there's no (diagnostic trouble codes) and the scan tool doesn't tell you anything, does not mean that vehicle operators correctly," Terlep said. "The real importance of a test drive is to ensure that all of the vehicle systems are performing as they have been designed to perform. And, if you don't do a test drive, how do you know?"

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