Fleet chiefs warned of importance of post-repair recalibration of ADAS-equipped vehicles

Fleet operators and vehicle repairers have been reminded of the importance of ensuring Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS)-equipped models are correctly recalibrated with the safety critical features working effectively following maintenance.

The warning comes from Thatcham Research, the motor insurers’ automotive research centre, which says that recalibration of the safety critical systems “must be undertaken and confirmed within vehicle manufacturer tolerances” post repair.

As the number of vehicles on the road fitted with ADAS, such as autonomous emergency braking (AEB), adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, night vision cameras and adaptive lighting rises above 10% – more than four million vehicles with many of them being fleet models – Thatcham Research says there is a dearth of information on how to approach the repair of the safety critical systems.

Furthermore, most ADAS features rely on windscreen-mounted cameras in order to operate effectively. Therefore, if a windscreen needs replacing then those cameras will also have to be recalibrated to ensure the safety systems continue to function correctly.

Additionally, as new vehicles are introduced to fleets it is certain with the rise of connected vehicles and more ADAS features being added – 11 safety features including AEB will be mandatory on all new cars from 2021 – the need for post-repair calibration will continue to grow. By 2020, it is predicted that more than 40% of new vehicles will have at least two types of driver assistance systems fitted as standard.

As a result, Thatcham Research is also working with the automotive industry to develop a Code of Practice. It has commenced a round of consultation with vehicle manufacturers, insurers, windscreen repair and replacement companies, equipment providers and repairers. The full Code of Practice will be released later this year.

Richard Billyeald, Thatcham Research’s chief technical officer, said: “As ADAS continues its ever-increasing penetration into the car parc, the lack of a clear approach to the repair of ADAS-equipped vehicles is having an effect across the whole repair industry. For their own peace of mind, insurers and repairers need proof that they have taken all reasonable steps to reinstate the safety functions of a vehicle before returning it to the road.”

Referencing fleets, Mr Billyeald said: “Fleet managers have a duty of care to ensure that any ADAS fitted to one of their vehicles is performing correctly post-repair. For their own peace of mind, proof is required to confirm that all reasonable steps to reinstate the safety functions of a vehicle have been taken, before it returns to the road.

“In this respect, it is important that approved repairers are trained appropriately and have a proof of competence for reinstating ADAS safely. During and following successful ADAS calibration key details such as the technician’s name and proof of competence, the equipment used to calibrate, and proof that the system is functioning to within a vehicle manufacturer’s specification and tolerances should also be captured and retained by repairers, alongside other repair process records.

“By doing so, fleet operators can be assured that their drivers will continue to reap the proven safety benefits of ADAS.”

If ADAS sensors, or parts that are in proximity to ADAS sensors, are included in a repair specification, calibration post repair must be completed to confirm sensors are functioning to the vehicle manufacturers’ specified tolerances, according to Thatcham Research.

In addition, to enable identification and safe repairs involving ADAS, vehicle repairers should:

  • Assess for the presence of ADAS sensors and record the outcome clearly
  • Research and seek guidance from relevant repair methods and calibration instructions
  • Ensure all calibration activities are completed by currently competent technicians
  • Complete system calibration in accordance with the relevant repair method/instruction
  • Be able to demonstrate that the calibration of all affected sensors has been completed and that the results of the calibration confirms functionality within the vehicle manufacturer’s specified tolerance – unless stated otherwise in the repair specification
  • Where no specific repair guidance exists, and functionality cannot be proven through systemised calibration, then advice should be sought from a vehicle manufacturer’s dealership network and appropriate action taken prior to vehicle release
  • If vehicle manufacturer information states dynamic calibration, this should be completed and confirmed prior to vehicle release.

Mr Billyeald continued: “ADAS supports the driver to prevent a crash in the first place. This represents a huge step forwards for vehicle safety and the transition into more advanced assisted and automated driving will continue to raise the safety bar. However, whilst that benefit may be fully realised on a new car, maintaining it once a car has been repaired is vital.

“The whole industry needs to work together to make sure ADAS repairs are safe and vehicles are returned to the road quickly and efficiently. Equipment suppliers must ensure that verifiable evidence of a successful calibration is provided. Repairers must invest in training to ensure competent persons are reinstating ADAS safely and vehicle manufacturers must provide ADAS fitment data and consistent advice around which repair scenarios will result in successful ADAS calibration.”

Laurenz Gerger, policy adviser for motor insurance at the Association of British Insurers, said: “Insurers are major supporters of systems which improve vehicle safety and reduce the frequency and severity of crashes. With a number of assistance systems set to become mandatory from 2021, it will be even more important to have clear guidance on managing vehicle repairs involving them. Ensuring these hi-tech systems are working effectively after a repair is an important part of putting a vehicle back onto the roads and we are committed to helping establish the standards and processes to make sure this happens.”

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