Is your car safe?
In Goss’ Garage
by Pat Goss
If you have a late model car it probably has some very sophisticated safety features. Things like parking aids, blind spot monitoring, autonomous braking with pedestrian recognition, anti-lock braking, traffic signal recognition, adaptive high beam assist, lane keeping assist and maybe even radar cruise control.
These are all wonderful systems that can help you avoid accidents, but did you know that unless these systems work properly, they can give you false information and cause an accident. Not good but that begs the question, how do you keep them working properly? More to the point, how would they get out of calibration so they would lie to you? There are many ways, and you might be driving a car with a problem right now.
First you must consider how most of these systems work. Usually mounted under the plastic shield that surrounds the attachment of the inside rearview mirror is one or more cameras. These cameras look out at the white lines on the sides of the lanes and send a signal to the car’s computer telling it where you’re positioned within those lines. Or they look straight ahead and report on the things they see within your path. Some will be on one or both outside mirrors and look for vehicles in your blind spot and post a picture on your center video display.
Then come the radar sensors that are mounted in the grill or front bumper and the sonar type sensors mounted in the bumpers and lots more on some cars. All these cameras and sensors must know their position relative to the rest of the car to work properly. So, you get that crack in your windshield and it has to be replaced and guess what, the new windshield does not come with a camera. That means the camera or cameras mounted to the inside of the old windshield must be transferred to the new windshield.
Sounds simple enough but the cameras are mounted in plastic holders that may not be precisely glued to the inside of the new windshield. Because of allowable tolerances in manufacturing every time a windshield is replaced the calibration of the cameras has to be checked. On some cars the system will perform its own calibration but on most you will have to have the calibration done with a special machine. That machine is called an ADAS calibration machine. ADAS stands for Advanced Driver Assistance Systems.
Okay so ADAS must be calibrated after a new windshield has been installed but that’s not all. In most cases the systems will need calibration when the car has been involved in an accident or fender bender, often after bumper cover replacement and in some cases after outside mirror replacement and the list goes on.
The big thing here is that you need to be aware of the systems your car has and what services they may need and when they need those services. If you cut corners or the shop fixing your car cuts corners you could wind up with an unsafe vehicle.
Consider you have your windshield replaced and the ADAS calibration is not performed which could leave you with a lane keeping system that is out of calibration relative to the lane marking lines at the center and edge of the road. You have become accustomed to the system keeping you between the lines and now instead of doing that it steers you off the road. Or how about failure to calibrate your blind spot monitoring system? You’re on the Interstate moving along with traffic (literal interpretation, moving very fast) and need to make a lane change. Over the time you’ve owned your car you have become accustomed to the system warning you when there is a car in your blind spot but this time it doesn’t because it’s calibration is off. Any idea how bad the accident can be at high speed when you try to change lanes and the back quarter of your vehicle hits the front quarter of another vehicle. It’s an easy way for people to get very hurt or worse.
My point here is that all this new safety equipment is wonderful but there is a learning curve that goes with it and included in that learning curve should be an understanding of what systems you have and what questions to ask if your car needs repair.
If you would like to see an example of the equipment needed to calibrate ADAS systems, feel free to stop by our Lanham MD shop and we’ll be happy to show you our brand-new system.
Copywrite 03/22/2021 Pat Goss all rights reserved.