The development of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) have been a huge technological leap forward for the automotive industry. ADAS make the driving process easier, as well as increase driver- and passenger safety. There is a wide range of different systems available that can (partly) take over tasks or foresee different types of situations on the road: blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning, automatic emergency braking, and forward-collision warning, just to name a few.

Even though ADAS bring additional safety and comfort, they also bring new challenges in handling car damage repairs for drivers, fleet- or claim managers, and body repair shops.

This blog, based on our whitepaper ‘How fleets can reduce costs by allocating repairs more accurately’, elaborates why Advanced Driver Assistance Systems make damage repairs more challenging and potentially costly for all parties involved.

Why ADAS make car repairs more costly

As newer car models are getting more refined each year, so do the ADAS embedded in them. The body repair shops are constantly adjusting to the ever-changing environment and aim to provide quality service for their repairs. Over the last few years, the costs are becoming higher. There are several reasons for that:

1. The vulnerability of ADAS sensors

ADAS sensors are located diversely in the panels and parts of the car and are quite sensitive to the external environment. Usually, they are housed in bumpers, windshields, tires, and side-view mirrors; all places that can easily get hit during a collision. In the case with ADAS, simply fixing or replacing these car parts is not enough - the sensors inside need special attention as well. For example, if the front bumper is in the shop with dent damage, the sensor stored inside the bumper needs to be taken out, reinstalled, and then recalibrated by the repairer to ensure that it functions properly.

Furthermore, collisions with other vehicles might not necessarily be the reason for ADAS recalibration. Accidentally hitting a road curb, a wall, a tree, or getting into a hailstorm might cause the sensors to relocate. Even if the hit caused the sensor to be off only by a few millimetres, it could still affect the sensor’s accuracy.

2. Original equipment manufacturer (OEM) requirements

There is a big chance that if a part that houses an advanced driver assistance system needs to be replaced, the replacement part has to be from the original equipment manufacturer (OEM). Unlike mass-produced aftermarket parts, OEM components are made to fit the specific vehicle and support the functionality of ADAS. Car manufacturers continuously change details in the way their models are manufactured. Sometimes even as small as changing the size of the screws or other tiny details, which makes it difficult for the aftermarket to keep up. Furthermore, many ADAS are an optional addition and so, not all similar models carry the same (or any) ADAS. For example: on the outside, a Volkswagen Golf with a parking sensor underneath the bumper will look the same as a Volkswagen Golf without one. But the bumper is, in fact, different, as it houses an advanced sensor. It’s not easy for a body repair shop to be prepared to deal with any type of car model and ADAS.

The best option for a repairer is to rely on (more expensive) OEM to ensure the perfect fit for the vehicle. Also, some OEMs require special diagnostic tools and specialists who have experience in handling them. The costs for such repairs are naturally higher, and not every body repair shop has access to all necessary OEM resources.

3. The importance of calibration

After the repair is completed, the body repair shop needs to ensure that ADAS is in correct alignment. It is done by running several calibration tests. ADAS is designed to provide an early warning, and if the system is not properly calibrated after the repair, there is a risk that it will cause the vehicle to respond too late in a dangerous situation.

The calibration process requires a variety of skills and equipment, depending on the type of ADAS. Some calibration routines are quite simple, while others require a variety of tools, knowledge and methods. For instance, sometimes repairers can use a special scanner to test the ADAS; other cases require repairers to do extensive and meticulous tests. Like dynamic recalibration, which requires driving the car to check for faults, or static recalibration, which needs to be done in a specifically tailored environment.

Some manufacturers have strict and complicated requirements for calibration of certain ADAS. In order to be qualified to perform sensor calibrations, body repair shops must make a significant investment in a number of different tools and training.

Due to the inclusion of a variety of highly sophisticated advanced driver assistance systems, the costs of repairing these vehicles have increased over the last years. The additional process of calibration has also majorly contributed to longer repair cycle times, which in itself entails higher costs.

4. Required extra floor space

Repairing and (re)calibrating ADAS comes with extra costs for the body repair shops. One of those additional budget lines is facility expenditures. Special floor space is required in order to perform accurate ADAS calibration. For instance, the floor space must not have any reflective surfaces and ensure limited sunlight from the windows to check if the sensors work accurately. Furthermore, space should be big enough to fit a vehicle of any size. There are different rules and guidelines on the amount of space required for repairs of each OEM, so body repair shops need to extend their facilities to be capable of repairing different models and parts.

How to prepare for the future

The advancements in ADAS technology is not just a temporary trend. The European Commission has introduced the regulation about mandatory ADAS instalment in all vehicles produced starting from 2022 in hopes to reduce the number of fatalities and injuries caused by human errors. A recent report by PwC projects that by 2030, autonomous vehicles that require little to none human intervention will become more prevalent.

In just a few years, the number of fleets in Europe with ADAS will drastically grow, which will make complex repairs more common and could cause costs to rise exponentially. Fixico’s data shows that between 2016 and 2019, the average cost of bumper repairs on a vehicle with ADAS was 44% more expensive than that on a vehicle without ADAS. Companies should be prepared for the changes ahead. Here’s what to do in advance:

Step 1: Examine the ADAS specifics of your vehicle

By knowing all the specifics and requirements of each vehicle in your fleet, you can greatly reduce the time for the search of a suitable body repair shop. Especially if your fleet consists of diverse models that each require an individual approach in handling ADAS and OEM parts. As not all body repair shops are capable of performing just any repair anymore, it is important to fleet- or claim managers to know the specifics of their fleet.

Step 2: Know the capabilities within your network

After determining what special demands the vehicle has, it is important to allocate it to the most suitable body repair shop accurately. Different damage types require different specialists, tools for diagnostic tests and calibration, certification, and extra floor space. Not all body repair shops would be able to match all these criteria, and by knowing which exactly would be the best fit for you, you can save both time and costs.

Step 3: Digitalise your repair management process

As you can imagine, keeping all vehicle specific information and staying updated on the closest suitable body repair shops can be quite time-consuming. Especially if you have a large and diverse fleet that needs to be operating at maximum efficiency. Fleet- and claim managers can greatly benefit from switching to digital solutions instead of searching for a suitable body repair shop manually. Instead of calls or visits to the body repair shop, receiving non-transparent pricing, and risking postponement of the repair, managers can digitalise their search and allocate to the most suitable body repair shop.

You can save time and money by using Fixico’s platform. With the help of Fixico’s advanced systems and damage experts, the repair will be allocated to the optimal body repair shop that is fully equipped to perform the repair and also meets the specific needs of your organisation.

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About Fixico

Fixico is Europe’s leading digital car repair management platform. On a mission to reshape the industry’s ecosystem, Fixico connects drivers, businesses, and body repair shops in entirely new ways. Its digital expertise and pioneering approach improve the repair handling process from every perspective; drivers experience an effortless repair journey, businesses increase operational efficiency, and body repair shops optimise their workshop utilisation. Fixico gives access to a marketplace with a network of over 2,000 body repair shops across six countries. A group of world-class investors backs Fixico, and its services are trusted by more than 100 leading fleet-, lease-, rental- and insurance companies.