Calibrating Success With ADAS Repair

July 13, 2022
Darrell Amberson of LaMettry's Collision expresses the importance of ADAS calibration in the industry, and shares the success that LaMettry's has found with its own calibration center in Minnesota.

Advanced Driver Assistance Systems can be an intimidating element of collision repair, mainly because they are a newer concept for most shops and involve a lot of moving parts. But proper ADAS repair on a vehicle involves much more than simply calibration. 

In order to successfully navigate this vast and quickly changing frontier, it is imperative to have an approach that remains focused on the details.

This is a strategy that LaMettry’s Collision knows well. Their ADAS calibration center in Bloomington, Minnesota, has been an asset for their multi-location repair business in today’s automotive aftermarket. 

“It’s important to remember that when we do a calibration, we don’t calibrate a system. We calibrate a component,'' LaMettry’s President Darrell Amberson says. “And that component (for example a radar unit behind a grill), might be serving a number of different systems. The newer the car, the more sophisticated the technology and the more systems they’re serving.”

Some of the most common repairs that LaMettry’s sees customers bring in range from radar systems to cameras, and many of the sensors that lie in between. The components that comprise a vehicle’s ADAS are vast, and therefore the process of repair often ends up being an educational experience for the customer.

“To many, it’s kind of eye-opening to realize how complex their cars are and all the things they’re supposed to be doing and paying attention to,” Amberson says. 

This opportunity to learn and teach is not something that the LaMettry’s team takes lightly. The company began educating and certifying its techs in ADAS calibration and repair almost a decade ago, and when they started there was not as much information available then as there is now. 

Because of this, the team had to put in the effort to learn a lot of this information on their own. Their self-motivation allowed them to see a greater opportunity for LaMettry’s overall. Instead of sub-letting ADAS repairs, they decided to try and do it all in-house, bringing relevant education to their team and technicians as well as their customers. 

“We would much prefer to have control in-house, gain the expertise to address whatever variables and issues we might run into,” Amberson says, “and also turn it into a profit center.” 

Another reason for this endeavor is because safety is always top-of-mind for the team. The ability to have control over the state of repaired ADAS elements has been important for them, and even more so for their customer base. This is because they are aware of what can go wrong when an ADAS system is not repaired properly. 

“We have seen some issues, and they can be significant issues,” Amberson says. “We’re talking about potentially collision causing issues.”

Amberson doesn’t shy away from the fact that there definitely are challenges to ADAS repair, especially when it comes to general troubleshooting.

“From our experience, just very roughly, 1 in 5 may not calibrate properly and there may be some additional issues.” Amberson explains. 

In addition to navigating through these tougher aspects of the repair, Amberson notes that multi-location shops like LaMettry’s have to prioritize quality communication to ensure that everyone involved in the vehicle’s repair process is on the same page. 

This is crucial for every aspect, from determining the procedure with the calibration center to speaking with insurance representatives and relaying information to the customer. 

“There are a lot of moving pieces to the whole process,” he says. 

Amberson notes that ADAS will continue to grow in the collision repair industry. Keeping its prevalence in mind, he relays that it is only going to become more and more important for shops to consider implementing training and education into their approach. 

“I would highly suggest repairers look at it and make sure it is getting done properly,” Amberson says in regards to repair for ADAS elements. “Also understand that just sub-letting (a repair) doesn’t remove them from responsibility.”

For shops that are looking for a good place to start, he recommends I-CAR as a resource as well as talking to equipment manufacturers, reviewing factory repair information, OEM certification programs, and forming good old fashioned contacts through networking.

ADAS calibration and repair does involve a lot of dedication, time and effort, but ultimately it is not for nothing. It gives shops a chance to educate and adapt as the future path of collision repair continues to be carved out, and customers will notice. 

“If we’re really doing our jobs well, we should be talking to that customer when they bring the car in. We should be asking them: ‘What system do you have engaged? Disengaged? What reason?” Amberson says. “The more that we can educate them on it and help them understand how they work, how they behave, what the purpose of them is … they can make better decisions on what they want to turn off and what they want to leave on.”

About the Author

Hanna Bubser

Hanna Bubser a digital editor at Endeavor Business Media, providing written content for Ratchet and Wrench, FenderBender, and National Oil and Lube News.

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