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Servicing vehicles with advanced safety systems

Tuesday, August 30, 2016 - 07:00
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Typically the system relies on a small sensor on the underside of each side mirror for information and the driver is able to disable the system using a simple switch (or similar) – which happens surprisingly frequently since they’re also prone to annoying false activations.

Fortunately these systems aren’t hard to work around, other than being careful not to damage the mirrors or get the sensor dirty, which is good news indeed. But just as with lane keep assist and lane departure warning systems, rain and snow adversely affect operation, as do reflections from shiny objects on the road that reflect into the sensor. Cleaning the sensors off during service is a nice, professional touch your customers will likely appreciate.

Surrounding view cameras

And finally, although cameras that show objects near the vehicle that may not be readily visible aren’t new technology, but they are being used on a wider range of vehicles and that means it’s important to be aware of them so that problems aren’t created during routine service procedures. These are the systems that use cameras at different places along the vehicle to alert drivers to things very close to the vehicle that may not be noticed – useful in driveways and parking lots.

Cameras show objects drivers may not easily spot, and it's important to know where they're located to avoid problems.

From experience, the systems do tend to be relatively straightforward and won’t need to be calibrated – even after battery replacement—but always check service information for the specific vehicle and be sure before you disassemble anything to prevent surprises from happening.

That said, it’s still important to be aware of where any cameras on a vehicle are located and be sure not to install options that block them, especially on work trucks. Transferring optional equipment to a new vehicle from the old one may not be as straightforward as it once was.

Additionally, it’s important to be aware of cameras mounted in the front grill since they may be jostled or wiggled while servicing components under the hood, or the camera may need to be removed to access the components behind it – or if you use the front bumper as a step to access the engine compartment it may inadvertently be damaged. Bumpers may be resilient and bounce back but if the components behind them may end up damaged or loosened as a result.

Being aware of where the cameras and components are located so they’re not inadvertently damaged during service can prevent much aggravation.

Rear-facing camera located in the tailgate handle

What’s on the drawing board? 

Advanced safety features have certainly become common features on mainstream vehicles, and both new safety systems and improvements to existing technology are already being dreamed up for the not too distant future.

For example, driver fatigue monitoring systems will likely be appearing on more and more vehicles as automakers adapt and implement the technology. The systems currently in use vary both in operation and in what they monitor to determine if a driver is drowsy behind the wheel. Some systems monitor elapsed time between stops, some monitor movement in a lane and steering wheel movements, and some even monitor eye movement and eye droop using a camera pointed at the driver.

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