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From the Shop ADAPT Reports

When Calibrations Fail

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Sept. 3, 2020—A recent webinar from I-CAR explored how technicians can troubleshoot a failed calibration and check their work along the way. While you're parsing through trouble codes, make sure you're also looking at other issues that might lead to a bad calibration.


What are the symptoms?

Jeff Poole with I-CAR said during the presentation that not all ADAS systems are created equal in letting the vehicle owner or technician know about a failed calibration.

Some systems will not allow completion of the calibration process and notify the technician that something is amiss. Others might indicate a completed calibration but then develop symptoms later.

Paul Bostel, electrical diagnostic and ADAS technician at LaMettry’s Collision, said that issues down the road can be the result of many things. Sometimes a component will fail and disable the ADAS system. Other times, drivers might have a heightened awareness of their ADAS features after going through a collision and think something is acting differently.

“I think sometimes the perception with how these systems are marketed that they are going to do, sometimes, more of what the manufacturer intends," Bostel said. "So you do combat some of that.”


How do you find the cause?

Bostel said that it's helpful to look at the vehicle the way an EMT looks at a patient. 

“Chronic problems to the acute problems," he said. "So when we have things fail, start at the acute damage that we had in the collision, the repairs that happened and see where that extends.”

Getting a full history of the repair process is crucial at this stage to identify anything that might have affected the calibration. If ADAS teams and repair technicians work separately in your operation, Bostel said that having lots of photos taken during the repair process is very helpful.

Bud Center with I-CAR said that, often, the most common root cause is something that happened in the repair process—positioning or attaching a part in a slightly incorrect way, for example.

One pro tip: Scott VanHulle with I-CAR said that techs tend to jump at computer problems with technical systems like ADAS. Be sure to check the physical parts of the vehicle that might affect the systems.

“Checking those basic things, I think, is something that people often overlook," he said. "Especially when its as complicated as all the ADAS and electronics. Making sure your grounds are not painted over and done correctly, and things like that. Always start with some of those basic things when you start with a strange situation.”

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