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A Few Feet Down, Miles To Go

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Sept. 9, 2020—I began writing for FenderBender and ADAPT magazines in July. Before taking this position, I knew enough to jumpstart my own car and could confidently call to schedule an oil change—but that’s about it. 

Two months and a few dozen bylines later, my own father is calling me to ask about the strange lights on his dashboard. Though I’ve moved a few feet in terms of my auto industry knowledge and feel I’ve got miles to go, he doesn’t need to know that. 

What I have learned so far in the industry has been taught to me by those who practice it. As with any new topic, I had to ask a lot of questions and research even more, just to get a handle on the acronyms. The first one I had to look up came with a lot of baggage—ADAS

Advanced driver-assistance systems have been on the minds of many shop owners, technicians, and car owners. In an industry where very little is ubiquitously agreed upon, everyone I have spoken to agrees that ADAS features are the forefront of vehicle technology.

The trouble begins when it comes to calibrating these fastidious systems, or rather, the timing of when to get in on calibration. 

Jake Rodenroth, of asTech Solutions, says the time to calibrate is now. According to Rodenroth, if you’re just hearing about calibrations for the first time, you’re already behind. Chuck Olsen, of AirPro diagnostics, also urges shops to research calibration specifications and begin to make space to do them as soon as it is fiscally feasible. 

On the other side of the aisle is owner of California-based European Motor Car Works, Kye Yeung, who says shops still have time before in-house calibrations are absolutely necessary. Yeung, who employs two calibration technicians, says smaller shops have options to choose from, such as remote-calibrations, until it’s necessary to bring the work in-house. 

Ulmer’s Auto Care of Ohio recently opened its own calibration center. Bryan Kauffeld, vice president at Ulmer’s, says he prioritizes innovation whenever he can. He asks shop owners, “What are you doing to stay ahead of the game and stay relevant?”

Whether your shop is just learning about ADAS calibrations, is already set up to complete them, or is avoiding them like the pandemic, knowledge is key. In order to prepare for a shift in the industry, you have to know what’s coming. While my time in the industry thus far has been brief, my main takeaway will hopefully serve you as well—there is always more to learn.  

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