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Safety System Alignments Dominate Second OEM Repair Technology Summit Session

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LAS VEGAS, Nov. 2, 2017 — Safety system alignments dominated the second session in the OEM Collision Repair Technology Summit hosted by the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS) this morning at the 2017 SEMA Show.

Kaleb Silver, senior product manager for Hunter Engineering, spoke on the importance and rise of safety system alignments.

Over 55 million vehicles today require both wheel alignments and safety system recalibrations—a trend due to the rise of ADAS.

Of the top 10 vehicles driven on the road today, nine of them require such recalibration. Thirty-one percent of 2016 year make and model vehicles have an ADAS feature, and 31 percent of ADAS vehicles have some sort of blind spot detection.

Silver spoke on some misconceptions that collision repairers may have when it comes to these safety recalibrations, the first being that these procedures only apply to German or luxury cars, which is completely false.

The 2016 radar VIO did list Mercedes as number one, but following Mercedes as runner-up was Honda. Following Honda was Chevrolet, GMC, Toyota, Ford, etc.

Twenty OEMs, including Kia, Subaru and Mazda (which are not German/luxury makes) have committed to the automatic emergency braking (AEB) agreement by 2022, while Toyota announced that by 2018, all their vehicles will comply with the policy.

But to Silver’s point, the rise of ADAS is crucial for collision repairers to understand in order to accommodate such alignment procedures in their shops, despite some obstacle along the way such as space, time and money.

Because all ADAS systems are tied to the direction of the traveling vehicle, when you’re changing the direction of the vehicle in any way during a repair, all of the technological systems are moved in the process.

In a 2017 Audi Q7 vehicle, a wheel alignment will only take about 1.8 hours, where in order to calibrate all safety systems in the cars, it will require a minimum of nine hours and about $18,000 worth of specialty tools.

Aside from time and money, Silver says that space is another issue that owners need to be aware of. Some vehicles require anywhere from 1,500 square feet to 12 bays worth of clear, level floor space in order to do a recalibration. Any less of space or any type of clutter can interfere with the vehicle's radar signals during the recalibration.

A test drive many also be required for some vehicles. For example, a Chrysler 200 requires the car to be driven at at least 40 miles per hour consistently for a period of time. Assuming the driving conditions are right, this may take only 10 minutes, but most times, this isn’t the case.

Silver concluded with some final considerations for the audience including the importance of process planning as wheel alignments must be performed first. Also, to consider the necessities of fixtures and scan tools and finally space and road conditions for test drives.

A panel concluded the session with Dean McConnell of Continental, Scott Kaboos of American Honda and Aaron Lowe of the Auto Care association.

In a question from the audience, the concern was the impact of cycle-time with such recalibration requirements. Kaboos recommended that the most helpful thing a shop can do is a complete blueprint on the vehicle upon arrival.

“Determining and identifying these things up front is key to making the customer happy and getting it in and out quickly,” Kaboos says.

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