I was recently discussing with the owner of Mobile Auto Solutions (MAS) Kevin DiVito, about how a year ago post-repair scans were a needed part of the repair process. Yet today, with all the Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) calibrations we do on a daily basis, the post-repair scan is only a small part of the process and really should be part of the final stages of the repair. Let's discuss why and how the changes in the repair process have occurred and how the shop, insurance companies and the insured hopefully will have a paradigm shift in what it takes to put a safe vehicle back on the road after a loss.
First, let’s discuss malfunction indicator lights vs. codes. I think that most shops — and maybe people in general — think that no lights means no problems or codes. This is one of the reasons post-repair scans gained popularity with some shops. They use the post-repair scan as a type of insurance to show customers and the insurance company that the vehicle has been repaired to the best of their ability. I believe they also know that if the vehicle leaves with no codes and does end up coming back, the diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs) stored will likely provide some diagnostic direction.
With ADAS becoming so popular, the idea of no lights equals no problems needs to be reconsidered. When removing, inspecting and/or replacing an ADAS component or its mounting, for example a windshield, most manufactures require the system be calibrated. Many times there will not be a malfunction indicator lamp or DTC associated with the repair. I’ve been in shops that think that performing a remove and install for a repair does not require the component to be calibrated. When I come across this type of conversation, I try to make them aware of why it is in their best interest to perform the calibration. The first part of this talk is “I don’t make the rules.” It does not matter if I agree or disagree with the manufacturer's procedure. What matters is that the OEM has put a procedure in place to keep the system operating correctly and to prevent any issues that could develop from not performing the procedure.
While not truly an ADAS element, Honda Lanewatch is a great visual example of how performing a calibration without the proper tooling may cause serious problems. Each image has a description of what is being performed. What I would like you to consider is the change that occurs between the OEM aiming and aiming performed using a method not approved by the manufacturer.
Figure 1 is what will be seen whenever a Lanewatch camera is replaced. This does not only mean that calibration is required upon replacement, but any time a mirror is removed, calibration is required. Figure 2 is the first part of the aiming process. At this point, Figure 3 shows the technician placing a target commonly used by people that have watched YouTube videos on how to calibrate the camera. Figure 4 shows that the calibration has been completed successfully. Figures 5 and 6 show what the completed calibration looks like on the vehicle display. In Figure 7, the technician has placed the OEM target and is showing what the image looks like through the video monitor with the previous aiming. Figure 8 shows how the distance lines change after aiming completes using the properly placed OEM target.
Looking at the difference between Figures 7 and 8 with the camera only looking about 10-12e feet back, please consider what can happen if the wrong method or untrained technician performs an ADAS calibration such as lane keep assist system (LKAS) or adaptive cruise control (ACC). These systems can be looking close to 200 yards down the road. Consider this — you're going somewhere and you're off course by just one degree, at a distance of one foot, you'll miss your target by 0.2 inches. What about as you get farther out? After 100 yards, you'll be off by 5.2 feet. This is a very simplistic example of walking a line that is off by a degree. With ADAS, the systems are looking at lines in the road, vehicles ahead and on the side while traveling down that path at 40 mph (most lane keep systems don’t operate at speeds less than this) or more. If a system is off by a degree to high or low and a degree side to side, the system may operate but could have catastrophic consequences.