Auto Physical Damage

ADAS Vehicles Are Here...But Are You Ready?

September 11, 2020

From pedestrian detection to lane departure warnings, Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) are quickly becoming standard. Today there are nearly 64 million automobiles with ADAS on U.S. and Canadian roads. While the added safety features are designed to protect consumers by reducing accidents and fatalities, they introduce new challenges for collision repairers. Among the biggest obstacles to a proper repair are training and technology. Not all repair facilities are equipped to fix vehicles with ADAS and, for those that are, instructions may not be readily available. This can increase cycle times, lower profit margins and, even worse, result in automobiles with safety systems that no longer function as designed.

The Importance of Education and Training

“Investments need to be made in technician training,” explains Mike Croker of Chief Automotive Technologies. “We need to educate techs on the importance of proper ADAS repair and empower them with the tools they need to do the repairs.” Whether your facility outsources training or provides it in-house, you’re responsible for the repair. If a technician doesn’t understand lane departure systems, how to determine which safety features are installed before beginning teardown or even when recalibrations are required, that can have serious consequences. With ADAS and vehicle electronics changing dramatically nearly every year, ongoing training is essential to keeping current with critical repair information and procedures. Organizations like I-CAR, Universal Technical Institute and the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence are rapidly expanding their ADAS curriculum. In addition, technicians can access up-to-date OEM repair and reference information using solutions like Mitchell TechAdvisor.

The Latest Diagnostic and Calibration Technology

A recent survey by the Equipment and Tool Institute (ETI) found that 38% of new car dealer shops are not equipped to manage the repair and diagnosis of ADAS and passive safety systems. That jumps to 74% for independent repair shops surveyed. Although you may consider outsourcing diagnostic scanning and calibration for some vehicles, bringing those services in-house can save you time and provide additional revenue. And when it comes to repairing ADAS-equipped vehicles, investing in diagnostic scanning and calibration solutions is just as important as technician training. To ensure that you have access to the right technology tools at the right time in the repair workflow, here are some key considerations:

1. High-End Aftermarket Scan Tool

The most effective tools are able to scan all vehicle makes and come from familiar names in the automotive industry. They use diagnostic data sourced directly from the OEMs under a license agreement and don’t depend solely on reverse engineering. These types of tools can replicate the scan results of OEM tools and report on all Diagnostic Trouble Codes (DTCs), which is why shopping by price alone may not serve you well. For a diagnostician to understand what each DTC means, it’s critical to close any information gaps. A feature that automatically links the DTC to the corresponding repair procedure can save you time and provide quick access to the correct information. Your tool should also be able to scan secure gateway vehicles like all the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ (FCA) 2019 and 2020 models. For ease of maintenance, look for a tool that can download vehicle data updates in the background with cloud connectivity. As I-CAR instructor Mitch Becker explains, “Scanning is not just hooking up a tool and doing a printout. If you’re using a tool that is not updated to the vehicle you’re hooked up to, your scan may miss critical modules.”

2. OEM Scanning for All Makes

According to a 2019 FenderBender Industry Survey, approximately 67% of body shop respondents are performing pre- and post-scans on every repair, and 23% are performing them when required by the OEM. Facilities that do scanning understand the importance of performing OEM factory scans on the newest ADAS vehicles to help ensure proper repair and to comply with OE Certified Networks. When researching an OEM scanning service, confirm that the provider complies with all the OE programs you’re enrolled in as well as maintains updated OEM Technical Service Bulletins (TSBs) and position statements. Also, check on the price per scan for all makes and models, as some providers have pricing that can exceed $200 for a pre- and post-scan on certain vehicles.

3. Dynamic Calibration

You may still need to outsource some calibration work due to the cost and facility requirements of target systems. However, almost any repairer can do dynamic calibrations in-house today. Confirm with your diagnostic tools provider which models can be calibrated using their solution and be sure to ask about transaction fees and support for dynamic ADAS calibrations specifically. Tools like Mitchell Diagnostics offer unlimited calibrations included with the monthly subscription cost. Alternatively, others may charge in excess of $100 for every calibration.

4. Remote Assistance

Even with great technicians and ongoing training, you’ll likely still encounter situations that require you to seek help troubleshooting and executing the ADAS repairs. Be sure the provider you select offers remote technical assistance from ASE Master and OEM-Certified Technicians specializing in collision repair-related diagnostics. With these remote experts on the phone and able to access your vehicle online through the scan tool, you can get support when, and if, you need it.

5. Documentation

The output of a scan tool can be equally as important as the scan itself. Without proper documentation, you may lose valuable information related to the overall repair of a vehicle. You may also find it more challenging to receive compensation for the diagnostic work performed. The best cloud-connected tools upload reports and link them to the correct repair file automatically so that every document related to the repair can be found in a single place. Reports that are easy to read and save make the pre- and post-scan process more efficient. As consumers replace older vehicles with ADAS-equipped alternatives, training and technology remain critical to the new repair workflow. Having the right tools, OEM repair procedures and ongoing education will help you safely and efficiently restore vehicles to their pre-accident condition. And in situations where proper calibration comes down to millimeters, you’ll have confidence knowing you’ve done the job right.

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