June 23, 2020—As the evolution of vehicle technology rolls on, advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) are moving to the fore. And, as any auto industry expert will tell you, it's as important as ever that repair facilities see to it that ADAS systems are properly calibrated.
"Our research has shown large crash frequency reductions associated with certain ADAS," noted Sean O'Malley, a senior test coordinator with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. "We have also found that sensor misalignment, for example, can lead to AEB (automatic emergency braking) not braking early enough to avoid crashing, or lane guidance systems misreading the boundaries of the lane in which the vehicle is driven."
"We have something in front of us that we all know needs to be addressed, and yet 80-plus percent of all repairs leaving body shops in America are not being done safely," said Jim Byron, a longtime, I-CAR platinum shop operator with Patterson (NY) Auto Body.
The importance of proper calibration was addressed in a recent CCC Crash Course Report.
"A dynamic calibration may require the vehicle be test driven at certain speeds for a specified period," the CCC report noted, "and that it be driven on certain types of roads with specific types of lane markings all while plugged into a scan tool. A static calibration often requires OE specific targets and equipment, such as heating devices, lasers, jigs, cameras and Doppler devices. Conducting a calibration can vary by manufacturer, and requires OEM service information as well as scan tools."
Perhaps most concerning is the fact that, on many vehicles, there is no indicator — like a DTC or dash light — to note that every system might not be calibrated, or the sensors are not aimed correctly. Thus, CCC noted, following the vehicle-specific procedures and requirements, and documenting that they have been completed properly, is critical.
That truly hits home as to why knowing how to repair these evolving vehicle systems properly is so important.
Byron, whose New York facility works on ADAS systems in-house, says its imperative that body shops ensure that ADAS systems are repaired properly, even if it means subletting the work. Then again, he noted, not all dealerships are currently equipped to handle ADAS work, either.
"We, as repairers, need to recognize that this is part of what we need to do for our client," Byron said. "Ignorance is no excuse. Bringing the vehicle to a dealer knowing that they haven't a clue is not the answer, as most dealerships are way behind on square footage and equipment, not to mention an A-Tech ADAS-exclusive person.
"How many body shops get an invoice from a dealer, knowing full well they haven't done what was necessary? A lot," Byron added.
Handling ADAS concerns properly is simply part of the new normal for those associated with collision repairs. And, slowly but steadily, work is being done to improve the issue.
O'Malley told FenderBender that the IIHS, along with partners in the Research Council for Automotive Repairs, for example, have initiated discussions with automakers with the aim of "enhancing the self-diagnostic capabilities of ADAS."