Minor repairs can become major expenses for car owners

By: 
MICHELLE DONATI-GRAYMAN, Media Relations Lead AAA Arizona

Automakers continue to race toward a self-driving future, adding a multitude of high-tech safety systems aimed at preventing crashes.
Those advanced driver assistance systems (also known as ADAS) are considered the building blocks toward fully automated vehicles and are available on many cars today, helping drivers stay in their lanes, detect vehicles in their blind spot and even help avoid a crash by applying the brakes.
But, what happens if one of these high-tech vehicles is involved in even a minor collision?
Or, even more likely, gets a chip in the windshield during the daily commute?
Does an increase in technology equal an increase in repair costs?
AAA evaluated three popular vehicle models equipped with the latest technology to understand the costs of repairing these systems.
To “see” the world around them, these vehicles rely on sophisticated cameras and sensors in bumpers, side-view mirrors and behind windshields.
If damaged, not only do these components have to be replaced, they must also be recalibrated.
This type of specialized repair can add up to an additional $3,000 in repair costs. Windshields, one of the most common types of repairs with 14.5 million replacements annually, can cost three times more to replace on a vehicle equipped with these systems.
If faced with repairs, it is important to select a facility that is equipped to handle those types of systems. Replacing sensors and cameras is relatively straight-forward and can be performed by most mechanics. However, the calibration needed to return ADAS to full operation is a specialized task requiring special information, training, tools and facilities. It is important to verify the facility selected is able to properly repair and recalibrate the damaged system, and AAA recommends requesting proof of the work once complete.
As technology continues to evolve, drivers need to be better educated and more aware of their vehicle’s capabilities. This includes understanding how the vehicle systems work as well as how much repairs may cost if damaged.
AAA recommends drivers review their insurance policy regularly to ensure they have the appropriate coverage to cover the cost of repairs for any damage and that deductibles are manageable to minimize out-of-pocket expenses.

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