by Bob Beranek

Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) have plagued and perplexed our industry for the last few years.

There is confusion over whether ADAS systems are officially “safety” devices. Some have said that because the system can be turned off by the driver, it cannot be considered a safety device. There are very different regulations designed for “safety devices” than other add-ons in a vehicle.

Dealerships haven’t been paying attention to automotive-glass related issues because glass replacement is outsourced to another company, and they depend on the service provider to deal with glass-related problems.

ADAS is a relatively new technology that does not apply to all models within a brand. Unless the carmaker announces a new service initiative with tools, directives and protocols, the dealerships let it pass without much attention. Service managers do not read the manual until they need to. Considering that most dealerships subcontract glass work, it will be up to glass replacement companies to raise questions about the new technology.

A big roadblock in getting definitive answers is the fear of liability, both on the part of carmakers and car repair facilities. I don’t think there is much question that these systems are safety devices, but some companies may be very reluctant to say that out loud for fear of becoming responsible for failures to the systems.

That brings us to our current situation: Carmakers defend themselves against liability by requiring or recommending recalibration, OE glass and/or other hoops to jump through. They hope these requirements will protect against a lawsuit, or at least supply a defense that is deemed plausible. The technology is too new to have a track record of data to prove one way or another right now. We are all trying to protect ourselves by crossing all the “T’s” and dotting all the “I’s.”

We in the automotive glass industry are no different than carmakers in wanting to minimize our liability. We want to release a safe vehicle to our customers, but we need information from carmakers and car designers so that we can define and overcome obstacles to aftermarket replacement.

As we uncover information that could help you in the field, we will let you know. Feel free to collect and forward all the supporting documents, pictures, or information you can for consideration, as well.

The acronym ADAS stands for Advanced Driver Assistance Systems and you will hear about it a lot in the near future. I first heard the term last year at Auto Glass Week™ in Baltimore. Glen Moses of Safelite brought it up at our Auto Glass Safety Council Standards Committee meeting.

The word “advanced” in the title differentiates some of the new driver assist systems from others (like power brakes, power steering and anti-lock brakes) that we’ve had for years. The systems we are talking about are the lane departure systems (LDS), the lane keeping assist (LKA), forward collision alert/collision warning system, adaptive cruise control and to a lesser extent the road sign information system.

On this blog over the last year we have discussed the many trials and tribulations of lane departure systems. We have discussed recalibration, the safety issue and whether the glass must be OEM or not. I have, in other venues, discussed and advised on what to do when recalibration is necessary and circumstances do not allow for convenient completion of the work. However, with the popularity of these advanced systems being included in even the most common of vehicles, new issues will continue to arise that will need to be addressed, and quickly.

Many of the concerns surrounding these developments hinge on the insurance industries’ acceptance of the added installation issues. Who pays for the recalibration? Who pays for the OEM glass required by the vehicle manufacturers? Who is going to ultimately pay for the customers’ inconvenience? Who compensates us for the added effort and time expended in explanation, verification, authorization and installation?

Every insurance company has their own policy language to define what is paid for and what is not. However, special authorizations are sometimes granted when you ask for them. Don’t just assume an insurance company won’t pay. Ask for authorizations that keep your joint customers safe, at least until we can learn the variables of these installations and have developed a standard of common place and acceptable procedures.

Many of you use aftermarket replacement glass (ARG) or original equipment equivalent (OEE) glass that poses a problem when taken to the dealer for recalibration. The dealer may refuse to recalibrate or advise the customer that recalibration would not have been necessary if OEM glass was used. On some vehicles, like Mercedes and Honda, we know that even if an OEM part is used, it needs to be recalibrated anyway. However, depending on the system used, there could be some instances where OEM glass is important to the operation of the system.

How do we deal with this? I suggest talking to your local dealerships. Find out what they believe is true and what they are required to do. Determine the price and time necessary to complete the calibration. Will it be better for you to pay the fee due to price breaks and insurance requirements, or is it better to have the dealer handle it completely for ease and for liability protection? Determine if a friendly dealership can calibrate different brands of vehicles for simplicity. I have heard that some Goodyear Service Centers have the ability to calibrate some systems that would also give you some options. Look for a calibrating service in your area. This type of mobile service is growing and there may be one in your immediate area that can come to you.

The Standards Committee of the Auto Glass Safety Council, with the help of Mitch Becker of ABRA Auto Body & Glass and I-Car, will attack this issue strongly at our next meeting in California in March. If we can come to a consensus, we will include language in our standard to address the questions raised by these systems. This action may inspire the insurance industry to recognize the necessity of recalibration and include language in the policy that compensates for the extra effort expended, or the OE glass we need to now purchase. Maybe we can convince insurance companies that safety truly doesn’t have a price tag.