Forward collision alerts, blind-spot warning systems and other advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) are among the important safety features that have been introduced to new vehicles over the past decade.
In addition to being popular selling features, these technologies have resulted in reduced accident rates and reduced chances of injury in an accident.
It is estimated that nearly 40 per cent of the new vehicles sold in Canada today have ADAS systems built into them. By 2023, that figure could jump to more than 50 per cent.
Since the technology that allows ADAS systems to operate is built into a vehicle’s windshield, replacing a broken one is not as simple as replacing the glass. Some ADAS windshields have modules or cameras built into them that need to be calibrated in order to work properly.
Calibrating these ADAS windshields requires special equipment and expertise.
Drivers who have advanced ADAS systems in their windshields are often shocked to learn the cost of replacing those windshields, and that their insurance does not necessarily cover those costs. To replace and calibrate a windshield on a modern vehicle can be $700 and more.
I would assume most car owners are unaware of the insurance coverage on replacing and calibrating windshields. They learn about it only when they need to have it done.
There are three types of calibration for car windshields: static, dynamic and a combination of the two.
A static calibration involves a vehicle in a garage or shop using specific calibration equipment, whereas a dynamic (or mobile) calibration involves plugging a portable electronic device into a vehicle and adjusting the sensors while the vehicle is in motion.
Some shops use a combination of static and dynamic procedures to ensure proper calibration.
If an ADAS windshield is not calibrated properly, it could pose a safety risk.
This is why replacing and calibrating a windshield needs to be performed at a shop that has the approved equipment and expertise. Registered new car dealerships are equipped to handle these specialized repairs.
Consumers should be cautious when having their windshield replaced. Discount aftermarket windshields could lead to problems. Poor quality glass and other factors can impact the performance of the cameras.
There have been reports in the media of windshields that were not calibrated properly. In one instance, a Newfoundland driver found his car being pulled into oncoming traffic — fortunately he was able to avert what could have been a serious collision.
According to a recent New York Times article, “A (ADAS) camera that hasn’t been recalibrated after a windshield repair … could mean the difference between keeping you between the lines or steering you off a cliff.”
I have also read stories where drivers were not properly informed at the repair shop about the safety risk in not having their windshield replaced. In some cases, the risk was not clearly defined in the fine print of an invoice.
Drivers should be fully informed about their windshields when deciding where and how to have them replaced. The windshield provides significant structural support in a vehicle’s cabin: up to 45 per cent of the structural integrity in a front-end collision and up to 60 per cent in a rollover.
My advice for car owners would be to check if their auto insurance policy covers windshield replacement. If you are unsure, contact your provider.
Some insurance policies will cover the cost of replacement windshields, but not the cost of calibration, which is approximately $150.
It’s also a good idea to check with your local new car dealership or auto glass specialist to ensure they are equipped to make the necessary windshield calibrations.
This column represents the views and values of the Trillium Automobile Dealers Association. Write to [email protected] or go to tada.ca. Cliff Lafreniere is president of the TADA and is president of Pinewood Park Motors (Ford) in Kirkland Lake. For information about automotive trends and careers, visit carsandjobs.com.