As more cars hit the road equipped with ADAS safety features like emergency braking, parking assist and lane departure detection (to name a few), it’s important that collision repair shops are ready to perform the right kinds of repairs. For shops focused on glass and windshield repair, that means having the ability to calibrate ADAS technology—whether you’ve got equipment in-house or you’re outsourcing to another shop. Either way, you might be wondering: when exactly does a repair call for calibration?

Generally speaking, if the windshield or side mirrors have been moved, replaced or adjusted in any way, you’ll need to perform a calibration. If you’re thinking that covers most, if not all, of the repairs you see every day, you’re not wrong. As more ADAS sensors are incorporated directly into the glass and structural elements of the vehicles, there will be more and more of a need to incorporate ADAS calibration procedures in any repair plan.

Here are two big reasons why it’s time to start performing ADAS repairs more often.

1. Accuracy.

The sensor technology that powers these safety features is highly sensitive—often dialed in to the exact millimeter. When the vehicle is on the road, these sensors depend on calculating exactly how far away a potential obstacle is from all sides of the vehicle. In windshields, these sensors help detect safe braking distances, following distances and generally help self-driving vehicles “see” the road ahead. A windshield replacement that bumps a sensor off its target by even a few millimeters can translate to calculations that are off by inches or even feet when the detection area is projected out in front of the vehicle.

While you’re certainly no stranger to the need for precise measurements, the trick with these sensors is that all of those adjustments have to happen at the software level. It’s not like you can pull or physically adjust the mechanisms. In fact, the more manual steps you have in your calibration repair process, the wider your margin for error. Automated ADAS calibration systems are always preferred over those that utilize plumb bobs or measuring tapes in the setup.

2. Driver safety.

Obviously, the reason these features even exist in the first place is to promote and help maintain safe driving by taking some of the burden off of the driver and putting it into the hands of advanced technology. The vehicle manufacturing industry is only beginning to scratch the surface of these sensors’ capabilities, but no matter what the sensors can help us do, they don’t help at all if they’re not functioning at their original OEM specs.

In the example given above, a windshield sensor that’s a few millimeters off kilter could mean the sensor sees a tree on the side of the road and thinks it’s obstructing the driver’s path. The emergency braking feature could kick in when the driver is moving at 60mph on the highway. It’s a scary thought. And while it’s an extreme example, it’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility. Ensuring that ADAS sensors are calibrated properly after every windshield or glass repair is your best bet at lowering your shop’s liability and keeping your customers safe.

In order to know exactly which sensors require calibration, you’ll need to perform a diagnostic scan using the ADAS calibration system of your choice. Take note of every error code and incorporate it into your repair plan. Documentation of all the work you’ve done is very important to have on hand should something happen. And of course, the best way to know these repairs are being done properly is to do them yourself in-house. When you send the vehicle to another shop, you won’t have as much visibility, and you’re putting your reputation into someone else’s hands.

By now, hopefully you’re beginning to understand the need for ADAS calibration in glass repair. If you’re ready to take the next step and look into purchasing an ADAS calibration system, check out our tips for choosing the right model.