Published on January 15th 2018 in

Recalibration – are you really doing it right?

Doug Kelly, CEO of asTech parent, Repairify offered a harsh assessment of the collision repair industry’s calibration capabilities, predicting: “Many, if not most, are not doing it correctly. It’s not intentional but they just don’t know.” Kelly said that for those in the industry who thought scanning was a big deal, “you haven’t seen anything yet.” He predicted that calibration processes, in which a vehicle’s various cameras, radar and sensors are retrained to assess their surroundings after a repair, “will dwarf” the issue of pre- and post-repair diagnostics.

Calibration technically isn’t anything new. Toyota, for example, has warned shops to recalibrate the passenger airbag OCS since at least 2010, but the concept has drawn greater attention because of the rise of advanced driver assistance systems necessitating more elaborate calibration procedures. Jake Rodenroth, director of industry relations for asTech’s Collision Diagnostic Services, said his company is starting to see more ADAS calibrations.

Kelly, whose company is building a 4,500-square-foot calibration centre for shops who wish to outsource calibration, called it “doubtful” that many in the industry understood “the full scope” of the issue. He also spoke of the difficulty in keeping up with the requirements from various OEMs. “They’re all wildly different,” he said, noting that some OEMs’ use of “Stone Age” calibration technology like plumb bobs and measuring tape.

Even the Repairify team has been tripped up by calibration. He shared the example of a 2017 Toyota Corolla which lost its lane-keeping capabilities when the car was taken out on the road. A scan tool revealed no trouble codes. They ultimately realized that it had printed out Toyota’s targets at an incorrect size, warning repairers to double-check the scale the targets were rendered by their own printers.

Kelly also cited an example of a shop customer who had a comeback – the vehicle owner reported the lane-keeping feature didn’t work. Repairify found that the aftermarket bumper’s design ‘was a big determining factor,’ and the shop had to get an OEM bumper and then recalibrate the vehicle again.
Rodenroth advised the audience to pay particularly close attention to bumper covers and windshields, indicating that deviations from new OEM parts on either could throw off an ADAS device. (On a side note, Rodenroth challenged every repairer to look up full repair procedures involving just a bumper. He predicted you would be “amazed what you find.”)

Rodenroth also noted the amount of time ADAS calibration can take. Some vehicles aren’t bad, but others can require four to five hours, and “even eight hours.” He encouraged repairers to schedule ADAS calibrations in advance, rather than try and shoehorn it in on before closing time Friday.

In relation to how scanning and calibration fit into a piece-rate business model, Kelly said: “We are very much in the education mode and have extended an invitation to Motor to do a time study on scanning and calibration, but right now, the industry just faces the “Wild West” on calibration. Additionally, dealership prices for the work vary wildly, and the OEMs are still working on repair procedures for some cars and some OEMs don’t even know how to test their safety systems’ progression in real-world conditions,” concluded Kelly.

This article courtesy of John Huetter of Repairer Driven Education (RDE). Check out their website at; http://www.repairerdrivennews.com/ for this and many other informative and educational article on the collision repair industry.

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