Advanced technology and repair concerns are highlighted at NACE Automechanika
Chicago — As vehicles grow ever more complex, what used to be a simple repair, including a simple mirror or taillight replacement, can now affect advanced driver-assistance (ADAS) systems. Collision repairers must understand and learn about those systems and take nothing for granted.
That was the message of the inaugural Advanced Technology & Diagnostic Repair Forum, which kicked off NACE Automechanika, July 26, at McCormick Place, in Chicago.
ASA President Dan Risley noted that the industry is still adapting to a new paradigm where it is unknown if, for example, an aftermarket bumper cover will affect certain ADAS sensors if it is thicker or thinner than the OEM cover. And he gave an example of a shop that replaced a mirror, with no trouble code present on the instrument cluster. But after the customer drove a certain number of miles, the warning light appeared because the mirror had not been calibrated. And when a simple bumper removal and installation may set eight diagnostic trouble codes, the collision repair industry must be educated so they are able to convey that need to insurers, he said.
Estimators must take the time to learn all they can about new vehicle systems, whether it’s an online I-CAR course or a simple YouTube video, said Mark Olson, president and founder of Vehicle Collision Experts, who moderated a panel discussion on ADAS and aftermarket parts. And one hour a week is probably not sufficient.
“I don’t think anybody in the room has all the answers,” he added. “This thing is running like a freight train, and we’re just trying to jump on at 100 miles an hour as it goes by.”
The panel agreed that testing, already being done by aftermarket manufacturers, will need to become more intense as what used to be simple parts are now part of a system.
“A taillight is fairly simple,” said Jake Rodenroth, director of client services for Collision Diagnostic Services, “except for certain models, where it connects to a footwell module, which connects to a crash-detection module, and in the event of a crash, it turns the interior and hazard lights on. Will an aftermarket light perform in that situation?”
And it’s imperative to research OEM repair procedures, he said, noting that a windshield replacement on his sister’s 2016 Mazda is 26 pages long, including the procedure on how to initialize the rain sensor so the automatic headlights and windshield wipers work correctly.
“When things go wrong, everybody loses: the consumer, the brand, the shop, and the insurer. As an industry, we have to decide what the best repair strategy is for that system.”
The car will give first notice of loss
Other forum participants noted the speed at which change has come, with Sean Carey, president of SCG Management Consultants, predicting that with advanced technology, the industry will even move to a different insurance model.
“We will move to pay-as-you-drive, less repairer oversight, and we will see insurance companies exit the claims-adjusting space,” he said.
The future landscape will include intelligence companies — such as Google — and OEMs owning the vehicle’s data, and some of those will insure the car, Carey said. In such a scenario, a “connected car” can automatically give the insurer the first notice of loss at the collision site. And with a multitude of sensors communicating with the vehicle’s computer, which uploads that information to the insurer, a fairly accurate damage assessment can be done and sent to a repair shop in an OEM’s network.
The move will increase customer satisfaction for that OEM, Carey said. Currently, he said, 60 percent of the time a vehicle gets repaired after a collision, it will get replaced within 12 months. And out of that 60 percent, 60 percent of the replacements will come from a different brand, he said. Recapturing even a fraction of that lost business means huge dividends to the OEM for its new-car sales.
Which scan tool should I buy?
Michael Simon, Bosch Automotive Aftermarket, said it takes time for aftermarket scan tool manufacturers to validate that each tool can communicate with as many as 40 modules, and with each year, make, and model requiring different protocol to talk with it. Although he predicted that gap to shrink, it is currently six to 18 months behind for most manufacturers.
But OEM tools work for that specific OEM only, and as the user interface changes from one to the next, a technician not using one each day will have a challenge of understanding the data. When shopping for a scan tool, Simon said, shops should ask not only what model years are covered, but which modules the tool talks to. Many traditional scan tools were designed to address only common failures, but a collision may have damaged a module “that is near death,” he said. And some scan tools also provide wiring diagrams, troubleshooting, and information for pattern-related failures.
“There is no silver bullet,” Simon said. “There is no one scan tool you can buy today that does everything for every year, make, and model, and talks to every module on the vehicle.”