Understanding the Importance of Calibration: What are the Facts?

February 6, 2024

Your windshield plays a much bigger role in your car’s safety than you might think! It goes beyond just keeping the wind and bugs out. The windshield prevents passengers from being ejected from the vehicle in a collision. The windshield also plays a crucial role in proper airbag deployment. Windshields are bonded directly to the car’s frame, adding rigidity and strength. This improves the car’s overall crashworthiness and helps protect occupants in rollovers and side impacts, preventing the roof from collapsing inward, reducing the risk of head injuries for passengers.

Now almost every new vehicle available is equipped with Advanced Driver Assistance Systems. Your windshield plays a crucial role in the proper function of these ADAS systems. When you have damage to your windshield resulting in the need for a replacement. The components on the windshield that interact with your vehicles ADAS system must be recalibrated to ensure the vehicle can calculate the proper stopping distance for the automatic emergency breaking and the proper alignment for the lane departure warning system. ADAS technology is advancing rapidly. Consumers need to seek out trained professionals that are certified in both windshield replacement and ADAS calibration.

Don’t fall victim to misleading excuses stating that the ADAS on your vehicle does not need recalibration when you get a replacement windshield.

  1. Statement “I’ve been doing this for years, no need for calibration. I’ve never had a problem. I don’t ever unplug the camera”

False!

The fact is:

  • OEMs clearly state that the camera must be recalibrated if the camera is removed from its bracket.
  • The ADAS system will not be accurate without calibration after a windshield installation.
  • If the camera aim is off by only one degree, the collision avoidance system will be off by 8 feet at 100 feet away, A vehicle traveling at 30 mph requires a stopping distance of 89 feet on dry pavement to stop in time if calibration is not performed, the vehicle may not come to a stop until 8 feet after impact.
  • A vehicle’s camera will “see” differently through a new windshield until calibrated.
  • A windshield is a second lens that the camera must look through. Bend and clarity need to be accounted for; no two pieces of glass are the same.
  • Inconsistent bends and camera mounting bracket positioning differences require calibration.
  1. Statement “It’s not needed, Calibration is unnecessary because the system performs correctly with no diagnostic trouble codes or dash lights after a windshield replacement.”

False!

The fact is:

  • The camera will operate as if it is still on the old windshield.
  • The clarity of the glass in the camera viewing area could be different, even ever so slightly.
  • The mounting bracket position is not the same as it was on the other windshield.
  • The position of the windshield and decking will be different.
  1. Statement “Every car can be calibrated successfully.” 

False!

The fact is:

  • Modified vehicles cannot always be calibrated.
  • Lifted, lowered, different tire size, tire pressure, fuel level, load, voltage drain, can prevent a successful calibration.
  • Existing diagnostic trouble codes that interact with ADAS systems will prevent successful calibration.
  • Environmental conditions, rain, snow, unlevel surface, background disturbance, lighting, sunlight will interfere with calibration.
  1. Statement “They’ll all eventually calibrate themselves.”

False!

The fact is:

  • No current vehicle system can calibrate itself. Once a sensor is disrupted in a vehicle, the vehicle cannot recalibrate on its own.
  • OEMs are steadily moving ADAS calibrations to static or static and dynamic.
  • Diagnostic and calibration equipment is the only way to complete a successful ADAS calibration.
  1. Statement “The scan tool says the calibration is completed, so it must be accurate.”

False!

The fact is:

  • Incorrect vehicle calibration environment and incorrect target placement can sometimes show a passing calibration.
  • “Calibration complete”, does not mean the calibration is accurate. It simply means the camera recognized a target.
  • A test drive of the ADAS systems must be performed to determine the calibration was accurate.
  1. Statement “Customers can sign an ADAS wavier to decline the calibration, then I’m not responsible.”

False!

The fact is:

  • Installers can’t claim ignorance or have a customer release them from liability. You are still liable.
  • Calibration requirement information is easily available. Consumers, technicians, and shop owners are becoming more aware of ADAS calibration requirements. Information about calibration is everywhere. Installers can’t claim ignorance.
  • OE requirement statements will stand up in court. Vehicle owner waivers do not necessarily provide release of liability in court.
  • You have to ask yourself. Are incorrect calibration procedures or not calibrating at all worth risking your customers’ safety, your career, and your business?

Unfortunately, some auto glass technicians use various excuses to avoid performing ADAS calibration after a windshield replacement. This can be dangerous, as improper or no calibration can lead to malfunctioning safety features and potentially cause accidents. Here are some common excuses used by technicians:

Consider this misinformation:

  • “It’s not necessary unless the windshield has a camera.” This is false. Many ADAS features rely on sensors located throughout the windshield, not just cameras.
  • “The calibration is fine, I checked it visually.” Visual inspection cannot ensure proper calibration; specialized equipment and software are required.
  • “Your insurance doesn’t cover it.” Many insurance companies do cover ADAS calibration, but it’s best to check your specific policy.

Lack of expertise or equipment:

  • “We don’t have the equipment to calibrate your vehicle.” This is a legitimate concern, but it’s the technician’s responsibility to ensure they have the necessary tools before accepting the job or can make arrangements for recalibration elsewhere.
  • “Our technicians aren’t trained in ADAS calibration.” Similar to the equipment issue, technicians should be properly trained before attempting any ADAS-related work.

Shifting responsibility:

  • “The calibration needs to be done at the dealership.” While dealerships may offer calibration services, it’s not always necessary. Many auto glass shops can perform the calibration just as effectively.
  • “Your windshield isn’t OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer), so calibration won’t work.” This is not true. As long as the replacement windshield meets the same specifications as the original, calibration should be possible.

Other excuses:

  • “It’s too expensive.” While ADAS calibration can be costly, it’s a vital safety measure that should not be skipped and is often covered by insurance.
  • “It’ll take too long.” Calibration usually takes between 30 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the vehicle and equipment used.
  • “It’s not worth it for an older car.” Even older vehicles with ADAS features require proper calibration for optimal safety.

Here are some tips to avoid falling victim to such excuses:

  • Research and choose a reputable auto glass company with a proven track record and certifications for ADAS calibration.
  • Ask specifically about ADAS calibration before agreeing to the windshield replacement.
  • Clarify if the quoted price includes calibration and what type of calibration they offer (static vs. dynamic).
  • Don’t accept excuses for not performing calibration. If the glass company insists on skipping it, seek service elsewhere.

Here are some additional tips for ensuring you receive proper ADAS calibration:

  • Choose a reputable auto glass shop. Look for a shop that is a registered member of the Auto Glass Safety Council (AGSC). The AGSC has strict standards for technician training and equipment. You can find a list of member locations here https://safewindshields.org/.
  • Ask about the technician’s qualifications. Make sure the technician you are working with is trained and certified to perform ADAS calibration on your specific vehicle. A list of AGSC Certified technicians can be found here https://agsc.org/technicians.php.
  • Get it in writing. Before you agree to have your windshield replaced, get a written estimate that includes the cost of the ADAS calibration.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you have any questions or concerns about the ADAS calibration process, don’t hesitate to ask the technician.
  • Check your owner’s manual. Your vehicle’s owner’s manual should contain information about ADAS calibration, including whether or not it is required after a windshield replacement.

By taking these steps, you can ensure that your vehicle’s ADAS systems are properly calibrated and functioning safely after a windshield replacement.

Remember, your safety is paramount. Always prioritize proper ADAS calibration after a windshield replacement for ensured proper functionality and driving safety.

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