How many independent garages in Andover are equipped to calibrate ADAS?   

Date: 20th December 2018
Author: Louise Ellison

In the name of market research, our Marketing Manager, Louise Ellison, recently made a few calls to other independent garages, service centres and tyre specialists in the Andover area to inquire on the availability of an ADAS calibration, 18 in fact. She explained to each operator that I had an 18-month-old Mercedes A Class which had hit a kerb and therefore needed the wheel alignment checking and most probably an ADAS calibration. The purpose of these calls was to ascertain which of our local competitors were equipped with the £15k piece of equipment required to do the job and if they were up to speed on the importance of recalibrating Advanced Driver Assist Systems.

What is an Advanced Driver Assist System?

An increasing number of vehicles have Advanced Driver Assistance Systems such as adaptive cruise control, automatic parking, collision avoidance, driver drowsiness detection, emergency driver assist, forward collision warning, intelligent speed adaption, lane departure, pedestrian protection, traffic sign recognition. They increase car safety and more generally road safety, for example ADAS can provide audible or visual (and sometimes physical) alerts if they sense a potentially dangerous situation, and some can even take action such as applying the brakes to avoid a collision or steering a car back into its lane.

What is ADAS calibration?

All kinds of ADAS can be affected by mechanical misalignment which is why many manufacturer’s guidelines advise calibration for these systems after any incident or repair work. This includes anything which may affect the vehicle chassis, suspension, body collision, windscreen replacement, and in some instances, tyre fitting. ADAS calibration is a process carried out to correctly align the cameras, lasers and sensors relate to the system to ensure it can work as intended. With the example I used for my secret shopper exercise, a hefty kerb bump or hitting a large pothole could have misplaced the ADAS lane changing cameras, lasers or sensors, which could result in them failing to function effectively.

What are the consequences of not calibrating ADAS?

If left uncalibrated, it is possible that small unexpected changes in the angle of a camera or laser could be the difference between a car avoiding an accident or not. Manufacturers are therefore strongly recommending a calibration whenever a vehicle is subject to anything which may affect the ADAS.

In the event of a major accident, where fault is in question, investigators would review the vehicle maintenance history and where there is ADAS, the calibration record could be called to question. Where the ADAS has been found to have been left uncalibrated, the liability may be placed with the last Technician to have worked on the vehicle. In short, ignorance is not bliss; it
is the responsibility of the Technician to understand the specific requirements of the vehicles they work on and advise the customer appropriately so they understand the necessity of ADAS Calibration for the continued safety of their vehicle.

Secret Shopper Results

So out of the 18 calls that I made, only two businesses knew immediately what I was talking about and advised me to contact a main dealer, the rest were none the wiser and also generally advised me to go down the main dealer route. One who advertises as a Mercedes specialist, didn’t have a clue what I was talking about and said that no customer had ever asked for it before, while three businesses who claimed to be tyre fitting and wheel alignment specialists had never heard of ADAS and even when I explained what was they said that it wasn’t
related to tyre fitting, and again, I should contact my main dealer for this type of service.

Interestingly, when I expressed concern for my lane departure warning system, one garage tried to tell me that they could do a laser wheel alignment and then plug in to their engine diagnostic and
re-programme the ECU which would reset the ADAS; fair to say this guy had no idea what he was talking about.

To be honest I wasn’t expecting them to all have the facility to offer ADAS calibration, after all it is an expensive piece of kit, that would be a significant investment for any independent business, but I think what I found most alarming is the complete lack of knowledge in this area, particularly give the amount of press it has had recently. I’m only 18 months into my career in the motor trade, with just a basic understanding of vehicle maintenance under my belt, yet here I was, explaining to these garages who claim to be trusted ‘experts’ in their field, something so vital to the safety of the modern vehicle.

Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) has been part of the Euro NCAP rating tests since 2014 and this year they announced that the feature was mandatory in order to achieve a 5-star safety rating. It is predicted that by 2020 40% of all vehicles on UK roads will have at least two types of ADAS so it is somewhat concerning that just two years from that deadline so few independent outfits are geared up to calibrate these systems, let alone have a comprehensive understanding of the technology and maintenance requirements.

BP Rolls Automotive ADAS Calibration

So why do I care? In case you’re not familiar with BP Rolls, we are one of the largest family-owned businesses of our kind in the south of UK, providing both private and commercial accident repairs, conversions, resprays and fleet graphics. In 2016 we acquired a struggling garage and embarked on a journey to create a service and MOT supercentre second to none in the area.

BP Rolls Automotive serves to fill the void between the small time independent garage and the main dealer; providing first class workmanship, facilities and customer service at local garage prices, we go the extra mile to give a first-class experience with free collection and delivery, a fleet of courtesy cars, CitNOW video sharing for complete transparency, not to mention the free WiFi and freshly ground coffee served in the comfort of our shiny new customer reception area.

In 2017 BP Rolls invested in a Hella Gutmann calibration system to meet the demands of manufacturer guidelines within our accident repair centre as well as our vehicle servicing business, enabling us to provide a complete calibration service for any vehicle equipped with Advanced Driver Assistance Systems. Working closely with Hella Gutmann and the Thatcham Research Centre, we follow the ADAS Approved Code of Practice and have trained our staff to give them a comprehensive knowledge of the technology.

As evidenced by the secret shopper exercise, ADAS Calibration, where understood, is largely seen as a main dealer service and in our attempt to rival the big boys, we wanted to bring that service in-house and give our customers the added benefit of being able to have their vehicle repaired or wheels aligned AND have the ADAS calibrated at the same time, without having to
go back to the main dealer, providing peace of mind and convenience to boot, not to mention being easier on the wallet.

After spending the past few months conducting research in this area, we are now embarking on a new campaign to educate our customers and other service providers of the importance of calibration. Throughout our fifty-two years in the motor trade, BP Rolls have consistently adapted to changes in the industry and taken steps to adopt new technology, in fact David Rolls believes that innovation has been key to the longevity of our business as we have seen so many competitors fall by the wayside, failing to keep up with latest developments in vehicle manufacturing and the subsequent needs for maintenance and repair. ADAS calibration is no different. In addition to meeting the standards, potential liability for failing to understand this technology is one of the key things driving this forward, but also, as our research has confirmed, we have established ourselves as market leaders in our area as the only independent garage in Andover to have taken the leap and embraced these technological advances.

If you have any questions regarding the ADAS Calibration of your vehicle, or if you are a local garage or tyre retailer in the Andover looking to outsource this service, we are looking for opportunities to sub-contract in 2019. For more information please visit our ADAS Calibration webpage or contact Nathaniel Roach – Automotive Manager on Nathaniel.roach@bproll.co.uk or call 01264 335801

Written by Louise Ellison, Marketing Manager, BP Rolls Group Ltd.


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