AAA: ADAS Systems Could Drive Up Vehicle Repair Costs

Vehicles equipped with advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) involving sensors and cameras will be expensive for car owners to repair or replace, according to a report from AAA.

Cars and trucks with ADAS may have sensors, radar and cameras in or behind the front and rear bumpers or bodywork, built into the side mirrors, or positioned behind the windshield, which could require replacement and recalibration if damaged in an accident or due to normal wear and tear.

The study indicates consumers should perform an insurance policy review and consider the potential repair costs of these advanced systems before buying a vehicle equipped with ADAS.

The organization evaluated three top-selling models, including a small sport utility vehicle, a medium sedan and a full-size pickup truck, and based mechanical labor costs on data from National Auto Body Research, as well as AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities.

AAA’s research, which estimated the ranges for typical ADAS repair expenses, found fixing front radar sensors used with automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control systems could cost between $900 and $1,300 to repair.

Front or rear ultrasonic sensors used with parking assist systems could cost $500 to $1,300 to repair. Rear radar sensors, used for blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert systems, could set vehicle owners back as much as $2,050.

The report estimated front, side mirror or rear camera sensors used with around-view systems could cost between $500 and $1,100 to fix.

“Advanced safety systems are much more common today, with many coming as standard equipment, even on base models,” AAA’s Managing Director of Automotive Engineering and Repair John Nielsen wrote in the report. “It’s critical that drivers understand what technology their vehicle has, how it performs and how much it could cost to repair should something happen.”

Additionally, front camera sensors used with automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and lane keeping systems could cost $850 to $1,900 to repair.

The report warned that chipped or cracked windshields could be particularly expensive to fix since many safety systems rely on cameras positioned behind the windshield and require recalibration when the glass is replaced.

In addition, some automakers require the use of factory glass that meets strict standards for optical clarity, which can drive costs to nearly three times the price of repairing a windshield on a standard vehicle.

“It is not unusual for windshields to get chipped or cracked, especially for drivers who commute on a daily basis,” Nielsen noted. “This may be an eyesore on a regular car, but when it falls in the line of sight of a camera or the driver, it becomes a safety issue that needs immediate attention by a facility qualified to work on these systems.”

The advancement of self-driving vehicle technology is affecting major changes in auto insurance. For instance, some analysts believe the decrease in expenses due to less frequent accidents could be offset by cost increases incurred by more expensive repairs.

— Nathan Eddy is a filmmaker and freelance journalist based in Berlin. Follow him on Twitter.

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