Calibration Considerations

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Properly performing ADAS calibrations requires some key considerations. Photo John Bean

NOVUS Glass: What to consider when performing ADAS testing during the repair process.

When it comes to repairing late-model vehicles following a collision, Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) calibrations have largely become a standard part of the process. That being said, there are still misconceptions out there regarding how these calibrations should be performed and a lot of it relates to assumptions.

According to Vern Gervais, National Director of Operations, NOVUS Glass (Canada), one is that a technician has performed a scan on the vehicle, thinking they’ve also conducted a recalibration when in reality they haven’t.

Domenic Prochilo, Vice President at Simplicity Car Care, says that two other big misconceptions he’s come across, are thinking that because the Dashboard is clear, the car is ready to be delivered and/or because the technician performed scans using an aftermarket tool, the systems check came back ok, which often, isn’t the case. 

Eyes of the sensor

Chris Chesney, Vice President of Training & Organizational Development, Repairify. Photo Repairify

Another major misconception is not looking through the eyes of the sensor that’s being recalibrated. Chris Chesney, Vice President of Training & Organizational Development at Repairify explains. “There is a common belief that the machine will do all the work and you don’t really have to do much when it comes to calibrations. In reality, it’s completely the opposite.”

Not only does performing proper ADAS calibrations require that the technician diligently follow the OEM repair procedures, but also that they understand why they’re being asked to place the target on the vehicle at a certain height, in a certain position, or drive it in a certain way when performing Dynamic calibrations.

Chesney says, that to really perform ADAS calibrations effectively, you need to be able to look at the target through the eyes of the sensor. “You need to put yourself in that perspective, so you are able to see what the sensor sees.” He notes that when repairs are performed; and there’s bondo covering the sensor, or perhaps the shop used a replacement bumper cover with a foil sticker behind it that is shaped differently, this will result in a different radar communications signal than what the OEM originally prescribed for that vehicle.

“You need to look at it through the eyes of the sensor,” Chesney explains. “If you’re able to do that, you can then take things into consideration such as ride height, fuel load, or weight in the vehicle, as well as obstructions or clutter near to it”. Chesney recalls one incident when trying to calibrate a forward-facing camera on a Toyota that simply would not calibrate. The service information revealed that a technician needed to stand behind the target with a piece of cardboard. This had the effect of eliminating all the clutter behind the target and allowed the sensor to calibrate instantly.

Space and conditions

There’s also the question of having the right space and conditions to perform both Dynamic and Static ADAS calibrations. With Static calibrations becoming increasingly commonplace and important, Domenic Prochilo explains that shops need to ensure they have up to 2000 sq. ft. of space to perform them properly. Other considerations include having an even floor and adequate lighting. “Lighting has become very important,” says Prochilo. “Proper LED lighting will not only provide a better work experience but will also improve the photography taken by the shop, which is used to communicate damages to the insurers. Clear pictures will also reduce negotiations or contention with partners.”

Speaking of partners in the repair process, another issue collision shops can run into is not getting properly paid for the work they perform. “It is our responsibility to share as much about the process as possible,” states Vern Gervais. A good example of this is the fact that a printout of a calibration often “only shows the time we connect to the car. It doesn’t show the time required to do the setup; nor the fact that these setups can take an hour or more, nor does it consider that if the specs need to be updated, we might have to do a complete reset.”

Therefore, he says, it is critically important for the collision centre to document and share as much as possible with insurers and other key stakeholders so that everybody understands what’s required during the calibration process—everything from having the right people doing the work, to the right hardware, software, plus the cost of frequently changing target boards, to the cost of laser-alignment tools and tablets. “We need to be able to show the value of the service rendered,” Gervais explains. 

Dynamic testing essential

On the Dynamic testing side, Chris Chesney notes that you need to perform this, whether the service procedure calls for it or not. The reason is that if you’re not able to determine that the technology works properly during normal driving conditions, you could end up with an unsafe, improperly functioning vehicle, which could lead to a further collision, injury and serious liability. 

Chesney says it’s important to understand how sensors interconnect, for example, sensors used for emergency braking impact others used for different functions, such as lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring or adaptive cruise control. “You can easily test adaptive cruise control and blind spot monitoring just about anywhere,” he explains, noting that all these features can be turned on and tested in real-world conditions to ensure they’re working properly.

A big issue that often crops up, is that because these systems are passive and are usually sitting in the background gathering data until the driver makes a mistake or a sudden object or obstruction appears, it’s all too easy to forget to turn them back on and road test the vehicle following ADAS calibrations.

And in these kinds of situations, the result can be disastrous. If the shop and technicians didn’t turn the systems back on and dynamically test them properly, they have no way of knowing if they will perform correctly when required. “This puts the motorist in a precarious position,” Chesney explains. That’s why he says, it is so critical that shops understand that it is their responsibility to road test the vehicle and make sure the ADAS systems are functioning as they should. 



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