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Monday, 25 September 2017 23:09

Technology is Doing Some Funky Stuff to Car Repairs

Written by Jim Champion, WOWT NBC 6

A vehicle is considered a total loss when the cost to repair it exceeds a percentage of its value. 

With some newer vehicles, the cost of the technology, safety systems and materials damaged in a collision can end up pushing the vehicle over that total loss threshold.


Air bags add an incredible amount of money to a collision repair bill, and there are a lot of them on many newer vehicles. It’s not unusual to see four or more air bags deployed in a crash, including upper air bags along the roofline and some that you didn’t even know existed under your dash. Other restraint system parts, such as seat belts and control modules, add hundreds, if not thousands of dollars to the cost of the repair.


Most newer vehicles don’t have big heavy frames anymore; they are created with a unibody type construction that consists of multiple steel panels welded together to form the inner structure of the vehicle.


Materials such as ultra-high strength steel are used, which are much lighter and much stronger than regular steel. But when these parts are damaged, many times the entire part needs to be removed and replaced because trying to heat and straighten them would ruin the integrity and strength of the steel. Between the parts and labor, replacing these types of structural parts can easily add thousands of dollars to the cost of a repair.


High tech headlights that can adapt to a variety of driving conditions can cost nearly $2,000 apiece. While the cost of them alone might not be enough to total out most vehicles, having parts like these added to an already expensive estimate can sometimes push the cost of repairs over the total loss threshold. Newer technology such as adaptive cruise control, automatic braking and blind spot detection use some pretty complex parts that can be very expensive as well.


When a vehicle with a lot of technology is involved in an accident, there are a lot of high-tech parts mounted in the most vulnerable areas. Many times, sensors and radar equipment are located in and around the bumpers and grille, which are hit the most often in collisions. Add to that the cost of recalibrating all of those systems after the collisions repairs are done, and the costs really add up.


Remember, all these parts, systems and materials keep motorists much safer than they used to be, and are saving a lot of lives. But sometimes, the total of all those costs “totals” the vehicle.


We thank WOWT NBC 6 for reprint permission. 

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