AsTech is evaluating ADAS calibration systems at its 8,500-square-foot calibration center in Plano, Texas.Because ADAS cameras can be sensitive to reflections that would “confuse” them, asTech’s calibration center features dimmable lighting and a neutral-colored floor devoid of patterns.Blind spot calibration on certain vehicles has very small tolerances that can cause vehicles to fail if not corrected. (Photo by Jay Sicht)

ADAS functionality requires strict use of OEM repair procedures

As asTech evaluates equipment and procedures in its calibration center, it advises pre-calibration due diligence

Plano, Texas—Advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) features can do much to reduce a driver’s workload, alerting to hazards such as blind spots or adjusting following distances with active cruise control. However, to work properly, the systems require due diligence in following OEM repair procedures, said Jake Rodenroth, director of industry relations for asTech.

AsTech provides the asTech II device and remote diagnostics service, and its 8,500-square-foot calibration center in Plano, Texas, is currently studying equipment and procedures needed to restore ADAS operation. Too often, he said, shops consult the OEM service manual only when they perform a structural repair or replace airbag components.

“Fundamental skills that we’ve done forever: taking out pieces of glass, changing fenders, headlights, and bumper covers, those skills have changed in recent years. But because we’ve been doing them for years, we don’t feel we need to look them up in reference materials.”

Procedures required can vary by make and model, he said. “Diagnostics, in general, shouldn’t be [OEM] position statement-driven; they should be operations-driven and trim level-driven. Am I working on a base-model work truck? Or am I working on a King Ranch? While the body structure may be the same, its electronic footprint is very different. When you get more features, more ‘bells and whistles,’ you have more control modules.”

 

Start with the OEM’s post-collision checklist

Each OEM has a inspection checklist of items to be inspected post-collision, including seatbelts, headrest restraints, occupant classification systems (OCS, seat weight sensors), steering columns and, on some European makes, suspension.  Many of the pre/post-repair scanning position statements were drafted using these checklists, Rodenroth said.

“All of those things should be done and charged for by documenting them on the repair order. Then drill down to the point of impact. ‘It’s hit on the left front corner and we’re going to change the fender, headlight, and bumper cover, and we’re going to look at repair versus replace operations very carefully.’ Then consider the diagnostic requirements: Are you going to disconnect the battery? Are you going to take the headlight out? What kind of headlight is it? Is it LED or halogen? They’re going to have two separate procedures for them.”

Rodenroth said for the shops he consults with, those that dissect repair operations line by line “get paid 100 percent of the time because the file tells a story. It’s not, ‘Here is a position statement, pay me.’ Position statements don’t tell you how to fix the car; they create an awareness that you’d better go look.”

Although some repair procedures are as much as 10 to 15 pages long, with little commonality among various makes and models, it’s the only way to know how each should be serviced, including detecting ADAS faults that don’t always set a diagnostic trouble code.

 

Measure before calibration

In the 8,500-square foot calibration center, the company is researching OEM and aftermarket targets and procedures before offering “a solution that is scalable and can support our customers nationally,” Rodenroth said. The company will expand its mobile-truck footprint, currently in 14 cities, as it expands it calibration footprint.

“We’re doing our due diligence before we put a product out there. We are going to use our mobile trucks to do some things that are permissible per the manual, but some of it should be performed in a dedicated center.”

Until then, Rodenroth advises shops that are subletting ADAS calibration to a dealer to fully understand the steps of the calibration to know when they’re done properly.

“Dealers and the collision industry are learning at the same pace. ADAS calibration is new to them, too. I’ve seen some dealers only connect a scan tool, and if there are no DTCs, they won’t even pull the targets out of the bag. In some cases, that’s not what the service manual says to do to properly check the system. It’s pretty alarming.”

Structural measurements and four-wheel alignment on many European and Nissan vehicles are key because ADAS and autonomous vehicles “rely on an accurate vehicle center line,” Rodenroth said. “If that body structure is twisted in any way and it’s sent out for calibration, it’s possible to calibrate it to a twisted car on some OEMs.

“We are facing those challenges in our calibration center, and on blind spot monitors, in particular, we are seeing the vehicles fail calibration. These systems fail for a variety of reasons, anything from quarter panels repaired in the area of a BSM to a wheelhouse inner structure that is still deformed. Even bumper covers that have been repaired using a plastic repair material or the paint was too thick, which has prompted some OEMs to release statements warning repairers about bumper repairs.”

Because some repair manuals are written using emblems as reference points to hang plumb bobs or align lasers, it can be difficult to know if, for example, the new deck lid and new emblem were installed perfectly. 3D-measuring systems, such as the Car-O-Liner PointX, Matrix Wand, and Spanesi Touch, may be one answer to check the car before it is calibrated.

“We’re looking at a variety of them, because we know that shops use a variety of them.”

It’s part of the holistic view repairers must now take in understanding the car’s repair requirements, Rodenroth said, noting that the shop should have an “internal champion” who will oversee the repair process, ensuring the requirements for scans and calibrations are communicated to shop personnel often and early using visual indicators.  Shop personnel who understand how and why the asTech device is used are successful in using it and being paid by bill payers.

“We want to help you figure that out, but we have to get buy-in from you. We’ve built a playbook to assist you.”

Parts & People

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