Windshield repairs to get costly due to driver-aid systems

More and more cars are now equipped with radar and camera based safety systems. These are are usually mounted behind the front windshield, grille and bumpers. Therefore, repairs or replacements could turn out to be an expensive affair. According to a media report, cars equipped with such tech could require complex re-calibrations in a special facility, with significant safety concerns if not done properly.

Thanks to the advancement in driver assistance technologies, many cars today come equipped with features like lane assist systems, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, etc. These systems make use of multiple cameras, radars and ultrasonic sensors. While the cameras are positioned behind the windscreen, the ultrasonic sensors and radars are usually placed in the bumpers. These have fine tolerances and even a minor shunt can cause a misalignment.

It is reported that windscreen replacements on such cars require re-calibration using lasers in custom configured garages. At times, even a wheel alignment is required because wheels should be pointing perfectly in a straight line for the systems to work properly. Repair shops reportedly use Bosch's DAS 1000 calibration equipment for this purpose. Some cars from the Fiat Chrysler group, Honda and Toyota require static calibration, with different measurements even if they use the same camera systems. Cars from Ford, General Motors and Dodge, require dynamic calibration, i.e. the vehicles need to be driven on roads for proper functioning of the lane assist systems post a windshield replacement.

A small change in the pitch of the windshield will change the sensor / camera angles. Some carmakers will specify re-calibration with a full tank of fuel while others require re-calibration even after a change of tyres. Some specify only dynamic calibration while others recommend both static and dynamic calibrations, driving up the cost of a seemingly minor windshield replacement.

While driver assistance systems have reported to have reduced the instances of rear-ending crashes as well as lesser injuries in such accidents, a small shunt, fender-bender or a damaged windscreen could drive up the repair costs significantly.

Source: NY Times

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