Honda discusses calibrations, shop certifications and collision repair information
Las Vegas—Through its annual “OEM Collision Repair Technology Summit,” the Society of Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS) aims to give collision repairers increased access to automakers and repair information. Among the highlights of the 2017 summit, held in November during SEMA week in Las Vegas, was a question-and-answer session with Scott Kaboos, assistant manager for American Honda Motor Company’s collision division.
Kaboos said there eventually will be more uniformity in what’s needed to reset or recalibrate the increasing number of advanced vehicle safety systems on new vehicles.
“I do believe that day is going to come. I hope it comes because right now it is cost-prohibitive to have all the tools and equipment required to do multi-lines [of vehicles]. There are companies working on building that technology now. The question will become: Will the manufacturers recognize that as a proper repair? Right now, our manuals call for the use of our scan tools and our equipment to make these calibrations. Will any manufacturer recognize a third-party vendor for that? I think that’s going to be the biggest hurdle. I think the technology is going to be there.”
Kaboos couldn’t say whether more of the systems become “self-calibrating,” resetting themselves as the vehicle is driven, rather than requiring static recalibrations in-shop.
“From Honda’s standpoint, there are no current vehicles that use that that drive-to-aim or calibrate technology,” he said. “Most of our procedures require multiple stands and targets as a static aiming process. That’s not to say it couldn’t happen at some point in the future, but our 2018 Accord that came out just two weeks ago uses very similar procedures to the past.”
So should independent collision repair shops leave system resets and calibrations to the dealerships?
“The procedures are well written, and I’m sure a competent tech in your shops could do the procedures if they have the right tools and equipment,” Kaboos said. “All of our tools are available at Honda dealers; they all have part numbers just like a fender or a bumper. It’s very possible for you to do these [resets] yourself, if you have the space requirements, the tools, the training and access to the information. The only question is: Are you going to do enough of them to see a return on your investment?”
Kaboos also said collision repairers shouldn’t expect same-day delivery of the stands, targets and other calibration tools. Dealers aren’t likely to stock those items, he said, so it may be a day or two before they can fill an order for them.
“But the biggest thing I want body shops to know is when these [driver assistance] systems need to be calibrated,” Kaboos said. “Our lane-keep assist system, for which the camera is in the right hand mirror, needs to be calibrated anytime you R&I that mirror, for example. So if that door is a blend panel and you’re going to R&I the trim on it, you need to know upfront that [system] will have to be recalibrated. My biggest concern is that people don’t understand what creates a calibration requirement.”
Those requirements, he said, are spelled out in a 23-page document (https://rts.i-car.com/images/pdf/oem-info/honda/position-statements/3019...) that describes Honda’s advanced safety systems, and lists the requirements and tools needed to aim each camera or radar unit, along with related troubleshooting tips.
Kaboos said he is looking to increase the amount of collision repair training Honda makes available to the industry. There are currently six Honda-specific courses available through I-CAR, and his goal is to add seven more, including more on advanced driver-assistance systems.
He also responded to suggestions that Honda could improve the likelihood of proper repairs being made by increasing the number of body shops it certifies and by making its collision repair information available free of charge. There are currently about 1,250 Honda-certified body shops, the initial goal for the program. Although more may be added in some markets, he said, Honda wants to “keep the value” in its ProFirst Certified program by balancing the number of certified shops in a market with the number of Honda/Acura vehicles there.
“We can’t stack certified shops on top of each other. There’d be no value to being on the program at that point,” he said.
He also defended the subscription price for Honda’s “Service Express” repair information as reasonable, noting that it covers only a fraction of Honda’s costs to create the information.
“It’s less than $1 a day to buy a year’s subscription,” he said. “One repair is going to pay for it. If you do one repair correctly instead of incorrectly, you may have just saved yourself $42 million,” he said in a reference to a recent judgment in a lawsuit over a body shop’s failure to follow Honda repair procedures.
Kaboos cited as concerning data from surveys conducted by Mike Anderson and CRASH Network that only 17 percent of shops say they check OEM repair procedures all the time, and that a equal percentage say they never or only occasionally check for such procedures.
“That’s scary. There’s a lot of shops that don’t even know they’re doing it wrong.”
He cited a number of examples of why checking procedures every time is critical. The rear rail on a four-door 2016 Honda Civic is ultra-high-strength steel, and there’s no sectioning procedure for it as there is with the rear frame rail on the two-door model and on the 2015 four-door Civic. Installing a floor pan in the Civic requires four different styles of welds.
“There’s absolutely no way you’re going to remember all this stuff,” he said. “Those days are way gone. You have to look up the procedure every time. Even in my position, where I get calls every day on our vehicles, if someone is asking me about a repair procedure, I look it up while they are on the phone. I don’t think, ‘Oh I looked that up yesterday — I remember it.’ I’m not going to do that. Pulling this information every time you fix a car is paramount to getting the car fixed properly.”
The crowd at SEMA naturally includes those involved in vehicle customization as well as collision repair, and some of the questions for Kaboos involved that aspect of the industry. Kaboos said while tricked-out vehicles can be cool, even seemingly minor changes have the potential for interfering with vehicle safety systems.
“I know in the 2018 Accord manual, it says on the front bumper that if you were to put an oversized front license plate bracket, or mount it too low, it could interfere with that radar,” he said. “If you change the wheel and tire combination, it’s going to change the vehicle and it could impact the [advanced driver assistance] systems. So it’s really up to the customizer to determine if [the change] is going to be proper or not.”