by Bob Beranek
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There have been discussions about carmakers requiring pre & post scans when doing any repair work on their vehicles lately. “Scanning” means using a tool to read the vehicle’s On-Board Diagnostic (OBDII) computer.

The scan taps into the OBDII port under the driver side dashboard and flags “fault” codes that are tripped by things that cause problems for the vehicle. Dealerships, body shops and other repair facilities are already required to perform a pre-scan prior to beginning any repair procedure to make sure there are no undetermined issues to deal with, along with and a post-scan after the repair is complete to confirm the repair.

Photo courtesy of Thinkrace.com

Photo courtesy of engieapp.com

Vehicle technology built into the modern vehicle is categorized under two headings, safety related or performance related. Safety related technology is the most important. If safety related features are not performing properly, the repair facility is obligated to fix the problem. An example might be the Advanced Driver Assist Systems (ADAS). I say “might be” because it is still unclear if ADAS is an “assist” system or a “safety” system.

Some safety systems are noticeable to the driver via lights, sounds, and warnings that pop up on the dash or fill the cab with audible warnings. Others are intertwined with other systems that are read by the scan of the vehicle and are not obvious to the driver. The carmaker wants to make sure the vehicle owner has the most current safety technology up and working correctly.  Directing and requiring scans help assure the safety of occupants in the vehicle.

The other scanning requirement is of performance related technology. Vehicle owners spend thousands of dollars to have the latest in performance features and expect them to be in working order. When an owner enters a repair facility, they expect their vehicle to be in the same working order as when it arrived at the repair shop. Pre & post scans assure the customer of that expectation.

What does this have to do with auto glass? Our challenge is to step up. This new technology has reached our industry through our connection to ADAS and with other glass related systems. We must rise to the level of professionalism of our sister industries.

More and more auto repairers pinpoint systems that are not operating properly through a pre-scan process. They then deliver that vehicle back to the owners, with all of the systems repaired and operating at peak performance and safety; which are documented through the post-scan process.  Our industry cannot be any less of a service provider.

There are dozens of scanners available to the professional and consumer and can range from under $100 to thousands. Each scanner offers different levels of performance from superficial readings for the car owner to global scans that professionals use to diagnosis complex systems.

My advice – do your homework and determine the scanner that will fit the needs of your shop. Purchase and use it on every vehicle. When an issue shows itself, determine if you have the ability and equipment to repair the problem. If not, inform the customer of the issue and suggest a repair by a professional that can complete it.

In my last post, I discussed reasons why pre- and post-scans must be performed on every vehicle coming in for service or repair. I explained ODB-II ports and the scanners used to monitor them. The reasoning behind this directive has been debated. Is vehicle scanning a consumer necessity for safety, or a way to get more money by adding an unnecessary service?

Leading the debate on the side of safety and customer satisfaction are the service providers and carmakers. On the other side, we see the insurance industry and/or the consumer who may not want to pay for this service. The auto glass industry being a service provider in the aftermarket, is caught between a rock and a hard place. On one hand we want to provide a safe and quality auto glass replacement for our customers.  On the other, we want to provide a service that our customers, retail and insurance alike, will value and demand.

Are pre- and post-scans necessary?

Modern vehicles have a plethora of safety and performance features that must perform flawlessly to protect the occupants from harm, and provide long and worry-free service built into them. Some of these features depend on other adjacent or contributing features to work properly and efficiently. Some carmakers feel strongly enough about goals of safety and performance to make pre- and post-scans mandatory for their service providers. We in the auto glass industry, can’t ignore the directives from the vehicle manufacturers or all liability will rest on our shoulders. So, are pre- and post-scans necessary – I say yes. Safety is our goal and the operation of the vehicles’ safety devices after a glass replacement are our responsibility. If it takes scanning the vehicle to assure safety, we have little choice in the matter.

Photo Courtesy of Mitchell International

We need to address this issue sooner rather than later both in our everyday practice of our craft and in our standard that guides us to safe installation.

Are we going to be paid for this added service?

Just as we are fighting for fair payment for recalibration, we may also have to fight for scanning reimbursement. It seems if the car maker requires it, the insurance industry is willing to pay what is necessary for safety. However, they need to be asked in advance of the service.

My advice to all shops:

  • Acquire a vehicle scanner and learn how to use it to scan all vehicles prior to and after an installation.
  • Determine a fair and reasonable price in your market for the service.
  • Create a policy and procedure for when a scan finds issues beyond your ability to repair.
  • Train your technicians on the proper scanning procedures of the tool you choose to purchase.
  • Train your billing agents in proper pre-authorization of scanning costs for retail and insurance customers.

This could be a win-win-win for everyone. It is a win for the customer in added safety and performance, a win for the insurance companies in reduced accident claims, and a win for service providers who have an additional service to offer customers.