Modern vehicles are increasingly equipped with many new features which make the roads a safer place for everyone. However, these new technologies increase the challenges for technicians. Many vehicles are now equipped with Blind Spot Monitoring systems. A Blind Spot Monitor is a vehicle-based sensor device that detects when other vehicles are located to the driver's side and rear. Some vehicles also include Cross Traffic Alert, which alerts the driver about cross traffic they cannot see when backing out of a parking space.
Camera vs. Radar vs. Sonar
Most blind spot detectors use an electronic detection device such as radar sensors mounted on the vehicle's sides, often in the rear bumpers or external mirrors. Some vehicles come with cameras instead of sensors. These devices will transmit electromagnetic waves or take computer-processed images using a digital camera and explore them. Even when the vehicle has been involved in a minor collision, if the sheet metal that the radar unit is mounted to is damaged, the sensor may become misaligned and therefore will not operate properly, which in turn could be catastrophic for the consumer who has learned to rely on these systems.
Blind Spot Monitoring system implementation can vary greatly from manufacturer to manufacturer. Repair professionals must check the vehicle manufacturer’s repair procedures for details on proper repair and calibration.
Repairs or replacements
Before any repairs are started, a technician should use the patented asTech™ device to verify if any Diagnostic Trouble Codes (DTC) are present. When a DTC fault occurs, the fault can be researched and diagnostic troubleshooting can direct the technician on what to do next.
Manufacturers have several statements detailing the procedures regarding Blind Spot Monitoring systems. These OEM procedures can determine whether a bumper cover is repaired or replaced. Putty and plastic repairs in the area of the radar can interfere with the way the system works. Manufactures also warn against the use of bumper stickers and even provide detailed information regarding paint thickness. Since a sensor is a precision device, never reuse a sensor that has been damaged. Always replace damaged sensors and follow manufacturer recommendations for proper calibrations and repair techniques.
Correct alignment of cameras and/or sensors is critical to ensure the proper operation of blind spot monitoring systems. Calibration is required following collision repairs if there is a replaced body panel in the area of a sensor, or if a sensor itself is replaced. These calibration procedures will require the use of special tools such as the asTech™ device.
Once reinstalled, several checks to the radar mounting areas are required, and a post scan with the asTech™ device will ensure that all of the parts are inspected and operating properly. Without a post scan, proper alignment is unlikely and the system won’t be operating accurately.