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Ed Attanasio

Ed Attanasio is an automotive journalist based in San Francisco. Ed enjoys sports of all kinds and is a part time stand-up comedian.


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Monday, 08 April 2019 22:19

New Car Technology Benefits Drivers, But How Does It Affect Body Shops?

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So, it's the cross-pollination of these systems because it's not just the ADAS part that's involved. Active ADAS means that the system is doing something rather than just warning you, and that is where I think that area will really expand considerably within the next 2--3 years.


Q: A few years ago, many shops didn't think that diagnostics were a must, but now they realize they're becoming more important to fix cars, right?


A: Diagnostics is at an all-time high with body shops because now the insurance companies are requiring them to do pre- and post-scans, which means they need to own at least one scanner. In the old days, we could just walk around the car and inspect it visually to write the estimate, but today we can't see everything. What happened was that shops were writing estimates, but then while fixing the car they found out that one sensor was bad, this wire was pinched or module is going to be reset.


So, now the shop has to write a bunch of supplements, which is a pain for the body shop and the insurance company, plus it lengthens that cycle time. Another problem is with a car that is near its total threshold, and then the shop finds $1,000 in additional work. Had they done the proper diagnostics, the vehicle would have been totaled, but they're already committed. That's why the insurance companies started insisting on getting pre- and post-scanning on each car, so that now they can write estimates for additional sensors, labor time, programming, which allows the shop to write a more complete estimate to start off. By performing diagnostics, you get a definitive view instead of speculating and take all of the what-ifs out of the equation for both parties.


Any shop working on cars made within the last four years is going to need at least one individual in-house who can perform diagnostics and have at least one full-functioning scan tool, not just a code reader. That's the end game, but how do small independent shops get there affordably? Maybe they start out using a subscription service, and once they have someone on their crew who can do the diagnostics, they invest in a scanner. That seems to be a logical path to take.

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