Should You Recalibrate In House of Partner With Local Dealerships

By Emmariah Holcomb

As more auto manufacturers continue to expand on the capabilities and features of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) in vehicles, the more auto glass replacement companies must deal with recalibration services.

In fact, the current Automotive Glass Replacement Safety Standard (AGRSS) says:

“If the vehicle has an ADAS, it may require recalibration after any automotive glass replacement. Those engaged in automotive glass replacement who elect to provide recalibration services may only complete the recalibration if they obtain and use proper equipment, by trained personnel and provide the outcome of the recalibration to the owner/operator.”

Some have labored under the misconception that if you don’t touch the camera, you don’t need to recalibrate. This, in fact, is a dangerous falsehood. Without recalibrating a vehicle with ADAS capabilities, the driver may first notice variances up to weeks after their vehicle was serviced.

The conversation about offering recalibrations in all repair shops reached new levels at the 2018 Auto Glass Week conference in San Antonio. During the “Integrating Calibration in Your Business,” seminar attendees got the opportunity to hear both sides on if adding recalibration is a worthwhile venture.

There was barely an available seat left open for the highly anticipated seminar as industry professionals kept cramming into the room. Once the session began attendees got the chance to listen to and participate in a panel discussion that went over the pros and cons of doing recalibrations at the shop level versus relying on dealerships or third party providers.

A Variety of Views

Rupert Armitage, managing director of Auto Windscreens in Chesterfield, United Kingdom, focused on the benefits of having recalibration services integrated into his stores.

“I often reference the UK as the industry leader when it comes to calibration,” he said.

But not everyone on the panel agreed with Armitage on the push to get more shops to incorporate the service.

Peter Brown, Tiny & Sons owner, represented the view of a small shop owner. When choosing between performing recalibrations in shop or relying on a local dealership, Brown said performing the services in-house is not an option for his company at this time.

“Smaller shops aren’t able to do the recalibration in house because of the financial and space constraints, so many work with the dealerships and it comes down to how much your shop is willing to invest in the potential risk,” Brown said.

In order to successfully complete a dynamic recalibration on a vehicle, one must have enough space and time to properly test each aspect with targets to ensure each vehicle is safe to drive on the road, Brown reminded the group.

Seeing Both Sides

Although many other small business owners in the crowd supported and clapped as Brown raised two common concerns against offering recalibrations in shops, another panelist did not agree with sending recalibrations to their closest dealer.

“I think that we should be doing recalibrations in house or work with the customers and dealerships to make it happen,” Dan Knowlton, president of K&K Glass in Florida, said.

Knowlton also mentioned customer satisfaction rates could increase if they were confident and aware they could go to one place for their needs versus being told to head over to another business or a local dealer to get their vehicle serviced.

George Weller, senior operations manager for City Auto Glass in Minnesota, took a few moments to focus on the cost and what business owners should consider when it comes to adding recalibration services. The company focuses on auto glass repairs and replacements. Some of his main pieces of advice included:
• Having enough space;
• Having additional personnel; and
• Having enough vehicles for customers who may have to leave their vehicles for the day or overnight.
“I don’t want to scare you away, I just want to make sure you’re aware of what’s ahead, because doing the right thing is never easy,” Weller said.

The choice ultimately comes down to what will be the best for each individual shop, as there is no single model that works best for everyone.

“I feel like eventually we’re going to have to get our own recalibration equipment because that’s where the technology is forcing us to go, but is it the right time,” Brown said.

Customer Recalibration Education

Whether or not a shop decides to perform recalibrations itself or not, all of the panelists agreed that working on customer education is needed.

“The customer still doesn’t know or understand what’s in their car. It’s up to us to communicate [to them] that it’s no longer a 45-minute job anymore because of the recalibration needed. Customers need to expect to leave their car for a half day at minimum,” Brown said.

The Future of Recalibrating

The need for recalibrations is becoming more apparent with each year. Sean O’Malley, senior test coordinator for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, said 20 automakers have committed to make an automatic emergency braking (AEB) standard by September 2022. Which means the need for additional services in local shops will only increase, but how will shops keep up?

According to the ADAS presentation by Mike Flink, national training and sales manager for Autel, starting in 2017 ADAS went from “optional” to standard in the majority of midsize and up vehicles. He said this growth will increase the amount of vehicles that will need to be recalibrated when windshields are replaced. In all cases however, there must be enough room in an AGRR location to perform the recalibration to meet the standard requirements. Flink says there are additional things to consider when adding calibration options for your customers in your shop that could amount to time and costs. Some of the items he suggested owners consider included:
• Targets and holders in the event multiple vehicles are in for recalibration simultaneously;
• Wheel mount lasers to ensure precise centering;
• Having proper height adjustments (manual height or motorized);
• Eliminating any exterior light sources that can cause uneven surface shadows; and
• Ensuring your indoor location is free from obstructions.

Vehicles with forward sensing cameras were another discussion topic in O’Malley’s presentation. He spent a significant amount of time focusing on the strong need for recalibration. If the camera is mounted back onto the windshield and is slightly off, it can affect the lane departure warning signals, as well as the sensor to enable the vehicle’s brakes.

Emmariah Holcomb is the assistant editor of AGRR magazine.

To view the laid-in version of this article in our digital edition, CLICK HERE.

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