When Calibration Doesn’t Work

“There are several things that come to mind when you think about all of the factors that can cause a calibration to fail, especially when you can work with [vehicle] systems that won’t always indicate that there is an issue,” said Jeff Poole, I-CAR subject matter expert, during the company’s fifth installment of its Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) webinar series.

In the webinar When the ADAS Calibration Does Not Work, Poole was joined by: Scott VanHulle, I-CAR repair and technical support team manager, Bud Center, I-CAR technical research and development manager, and Paul Bostel, LaMettry’s Collision master technician.

One of the first questions highlighted was: How do you know when a calibration has failed? The panel stated several reasons why a failure is possible, which included getting:

  • Customer complaints;
  • An error or the vehicle won’t calibrate;
  • An error during the test drive;
  • Multiple error messages;
  • The systems showing signs of problems and no diagnostic trouble codes (DTC) are present; and
  • Unresolved DTCs.

“I’ve seen instances where you can’t get a pass right off [of] the bat and you get kind of a let-down screen that says [it] failed and you don’t have a whole lot to go off of,” said Bostel. “I’ve also had successful calibrations and the systems fail several months after due to component failure which disabled the system.”

Bostel also mentioned there are also other indicators, like when a customer tells you that they think their vehicle isn’t picking up lines on the road like it used to. But getting customer feedback after collisions and repairs isn’t new for the industry.

“We’ve also seen this before ADAS with customers when there’s been a collision and the customer says there are issues,” said Poole. “Sometimes the customer’s view can be different after a collision.”

“It’s not surprising that with ADAS we see a lot more of these things,” said VanHulle. “One of the things we keep hearing in the industry is ‘if there’s no light it’ll be fine,’ but that’s just not true, because some of these systems won’t tell you anything [is wrong].”

Diagnosing the Problem

The panel agreed that prior to properly diagnosing the vehicle’s issue, the technician must first understand what has previously been done to the vehicle. This, according to the panel, also includes the types of materials that have been used on this vehicle. According to Bostel, having pictures from the collision and repair process is crucial in understanding where to start the base of potential damage.

Meanwhile, VanHulle urges technicians to “check the basics.” “For me whenever you start going into anything electronic some people jump to ‘it has to be a computer or a module’, but nine times out of ten you can quickly resolve an issue if you check all of you basic things with the car first,” said VanHulle.

Diagnosing DTCs

When it comes to diagnosing trouble codes Bostel instantly mentioned there are often times when technicians can have separate vehicle issues that are related. This is a part of the reason why he chooses a different approach when it comes to further diagnostics.

“I find that a lot of people go into the codes individually, but I like to take a more global approach and ask what all of this equates to and what does it relate to,” explained Bostel. “If you can tell that some of the codes are related to the same issue it can save you time versus looking up all of the codes you’re given.”

Having Influence

All four panelists agreed that having the proper influence in your business is key when trying to avoid a calibration failure. The shop’s noise and lighting were both mentioned as important variables.

“Having an environment that you can control, like having dimmable lighting is worth its weight in gold,” said Bostel. “You also have to factor in that you might not have anything wrong with the car, but that you have an issue with your environment.”

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