What the collision industry doesn’t know about ADAS
Collision Repair magazine’s James Kerr recently sat down with ADAS specialist John Marlowe of Level 5 Drive; Joe Saputo, owner of CARSTAR Ancaster and Joe DaCunha, quality control admin for AllState, to discuss the implications of ADAS on the collision repair industry, from cost to consequences.
Collision Repair: There’s a disconnect between the public perception of ADAS and what ADAS actually is. Where does this disconnect happen?
John Marlowe: The consumer tends to have very little knowledge about the features their vehicles have—a lot of people don’t understand the full capabilities because the people selling them don’t even fully understand it. They are necessary safety features, but plenty of consumers fail to see the benefit in them. Then, on the other hand, [Level 5 Drive] has its own internal studies we’ve done, and they indicate that a customer who has never operated a vehicle with blind spot monitors drives a vehicle with blind spot monitors, they will do a shoulder check about 11 times, on average, before they place their trust in the system.
They’ll jump in a car that they’ve never driven, that has blind spot monitors, and the first 11 times they change lanes. They’re doing the shoulder check same as they always have, but each time they do it, they notice: if there’s a car there, the light comes on. If there isn’t a car there, the light doesn’t come on. They noticed this and instinctively begin to adapt.
Drivers are prepared to intrinsically, and fully trust these systems that are functional and are going to perform the tasks every time, but they don’t fully understand them.
CRM: Where are the disconnects from a collision centre’s perspective?
Joe Saputo: As a collision centre owner, I have a hard enough time keeping up with the technology of staying certified for all the brands that I’m working on and keeping up with the investment into the tooling for that and the data that I have to purchase for them let alone researching calibrations.
Not to mention the equipment cost. I would love to make an investment into some calibration equipment, but with how it’s changing so quickly. I already know if calibration equipment, I could write a check and date it 2024 for $200,000 because that’s how fast it’s changing and that’s how much, and I’m not ever doing that.
[At CARSTAR Ancaster] we find leaving the ADAS bucket for someone who has a clear, strong foundation of the technology. The collision centre team can focus on doing their job very diligently, and we leave the ADAS functions to capable, reliable hands.
CRM: So you’ve found the best way to handle ADAS calibrations has been to outsource?
JS: Yes. I’m not gonna bring in the calibration machines; I’m not interested in trying to use one brand to recalibrate every single make and model. But I can rely on a vendor. Though different shops can work in different ways.
If you’re going to outsource things, we need to make sure you choose the right partner: find the facts, number one, and some economic pricing. Ask questions: what are we dealing with here? Are these people picking up the car? Do we have to deliver it when I have to drive a car somewhere? Is somebody going to pay me to do that? All these things need to compound into some type of dividend for the insurance company, the customer, the collision center. That’s number one.
CRM: Why are some collision centres not taking ADAS seriously?
JM: In my opinion, so much of the claims administration has been offloaded onto the collision shops over the years. They’re under such pressure to maintain their cycle times. Learning something new, is very difficult to add to the mix, even for progressive shops. There’s the other element that is as simple as not wanting to acknowledge it. They’ve been doing it this way for 30 years and they see no reason to change now.
I’ll give you an example of something that actually happened to me. We get a phone call from a collision shop who had repaired a Honda Civic, front end. And there were no DTCs, there were no lights on the dash. They test drove the vehicle, found everything was okay, gave it back to the customer. Customer returned a couple weeks later saying their adaptive cruise control was not functioning properly. They sent it to the dealer who checked it, gave it back to the collision shop, who gave it back to the customer.
Everything checked out perfectly. There were no errors. Customer came back again. This time we got the phone call. I picked the vehicle up as I was driving it back to our lab. There is an exit on the highway I was on on the left-hand side, which is a little bit unusual for a highway system. As I approached that exit, the car suddenly braked fully in traffic. To avoid a collision, there was nothing in front of me, but there were cars behind me. What it was detecting was something on the, the left side off ramp rather. We took the car back to our lab. This sensor has a tolerance of one-tenth of one degree, and it was off by two full degrees.
CRM: Well, there’s one danger right there—what are other dangers of not taking ADAS seriously?
Joe DaCuhna: It’s huge. Most shops are busy and have deal with this stuff whether you want to or not, but there are two ways to approach it: be proactive is or pretend that this thing doesn’t exist.
Even if I don’t have a light on the dash, it doesn’t mean that there’s not issues with the ADAS system. It just means something didn’t activate. In terms of, you know, liability issues, it’s, it’s huge. If somebody actually gets hurt because something failed, and we ignored it.
The ever-changing collision repair world. There will be more and more ADAS for all to contend with. We need to slow down and acknowledge the time it takes to complete the repair process correctly, along with the intricacies involved. Stop worrying about how fast we can do it; concentrate on how well we can do it. That is a winning formula for everyone.