It may be a few years before we have autonomous cars, but self-driving technology is making its way into cars to improve safety and drivability. These Advanced Driver Assist Systems (ADAS) include features like lane-keep assist, collision mitigation, blind spot detection, adaptive cruise control and automatic braking. While they can do a lot to help you avoid accidents, they also add new challenges to collision repair. What does it take to restore these systems after an accident?
Checking the Network
These systems aren’t stand alone: often sensors and controls serve several purposes within the car. For example, wheel speed sensors are used by the ABS system to judge when a wheel is locking up, the traction control system to detect wheel slip, the automatic braking system to judge how long it will take to hit an object, and adaptive cruise control to monitor vehicle speed in relation to the speed of surrounding vehicles.
Since ADAS is relatively new, there’s no established industry-wide communications standard. To get the full picture of what’s going on with these systems, the technician needs to use factory scan tools that can read these additional codes. By checking errors, hidden damage can be identified quickly, reducing the time it takes to diagnose and repair safety systems. Errors don’t always turn on warning lights in the dash: after a minor accident, your car may be drivable, but some of these systems won’t be working correctly.
The 12-volt electrical system must be active and the wiring intact for this scan to work. If it isn’t, repair starts with the electrical system. Once the computers are powered and connected to the rest of the system, the technician can go on to the electronics diagnosis. Have a hybrid? The high voltage system doesn’t need to be repaired before ADAS repairs can take place, letting the shop fix safety systems while waiting on drive and battery components.
Making the Repair
Blueprinting is critical to fast safety system repairs: without taking apart damaged areas for inspection, it can be easy to miss underlying damage. Once the damage has been identified, the repair itself isn’t much different from other autobody repair: parts are replaced, repaired and refinished to restore the look and function of the vehicle.
Seeing the Outside World
ADAS uses a combination of sensors including cameras, LiDAR, sonar, and radar to identify road markings and hazards. These sensors need to be aligned to get accurate readings in much the same way that wheels need to be aligned to get good traction and tire wear. Even minor body damage can change the position of these sensors, leading to false readings and system failure.
The sensor doesn’t always need to be moved to get it to work. Recalibrating allows sensor readings to be brought back into spec, so the computer can make the right judgments from the information it receives. This is done by activating a test mode and using test targets to line up sensors. These can range from small targets to long stretches of lines and markers that cover the entire view of a sensor.
What if I Want ADAS Features Turned Off?
While ADAS can make driving safer and easier, these features are so new that they aren’t always flawless. Common problems include automatic braking systems thinking a garage door is a stopped vehicle, blind spot detection turning on when there isn’t a vehicle nearby, and backup sensors sounding when there’s plenty of distance between the vehicle and any obstacles. As part of the repair process, the technicians will keep the current vehicle settings where possible, so you’ll have the same driving experience when you get your car back.
Where Can I Go to Get Quality Collision Repair for My New Vehicle?
For over 70 years, Merton Auto Body has helped people in Lake Country with their collision damaged vehicles, offering fast, high-quality repairs. We’re an I-CAR Gold Class shop, which means our technicians are constantly receiving the latest repair training, so we can handle new technology. Our shop is located just north of Pewaukee, up the road from Ironwood Golf Course.