...forming partnerships with insurers and steering business to repair shops that are “certified” to work on their car brands.
“The industry wants to do the right thing. It’s just catching up,” Terlap said. “The problem, though, is the cars are changing so fast.”
Mitch Becker, director of training for Pro-Tech Automotive Solutions, said many ADAS sensors are attached to vehicle windshields. Becker said 14 million windshields are replaced annually in the U.S. Because of ADAS, what used to be a relatively simple repair job now takes much longer.
“The average windshield claim in the United States has more than doubled,” Becker said.
Becker said the addition of ADAS systems into windshield design requires an exact calibration that can be done only inside a body shop, at least if the manufacturer’s specifications are followed.
Becker said imagine an ADAS sensor emits a laser beam aimed at a target the size of a credit card. If the angle of the laser is shifted one degree, at a distance of 150 meters that beam will be aimed into the adjacent traffic lane, pointing into oncoming traffic.
Becker said he knows of technicians who think they can skip the calibration process by leaving the ADAS equipment connected when the windshield is removed. “Nothing could be further from the truth,” he said.
Instruments cannot be properly calibrated without a test drive, he said. ADAS sensors are aimed at specific targets---the lane marker at the edge of the road or the vehicle directly in front. Highway travel is necessary to ensure they are calibrated.
Often, the weather doesn’t cooperate. For example, snow may obscure the traffic lanes that serve as cues for lane-departure warnings.
“We’ve had cars that we had to drive 70 miles to get the system calibrated again,” Becker said.
Even as the job of auto body repair became more technical, vocational schools are dropping training programs because it is too expensive to keep up with technology, Becker said. The result is a shortage of skilled labor, which explains why...