The buzz word in the industry at the moment is “calibration”. What is it and how it is completed? The requirement to diagnose electronic systems in the collision industry has created a lot of confusion within work shops and insurance boardrooms alike. What are shops supposed do? What is required for the repair? How is it done?

Just as key stake holders were getting their heads around the importance of of diagnosing and scanning, the OEM’s of the world decided to throw a curve ball to industry with the introduction of advanced driver assist systems (ADAS) and the requirements to return these systems to their correct working functions, via calibrating.

CALIBRATION VS SCANNING

The first step for everyone to understand is what is the difference between a scan and a calibration? and why are the two completely different operations.

A calibration refers to the resetting of any advanced driver assist system that a manufacture may have in their motor vehicles. These are generally systems that can aid the driver with any correction of the vehicle during a drive. Unfortunately these systems require more than just a code clear with a scan tool. They require a calibration test to ensure proper function and for the system to have the correct orientation to the vehicle itself, generally requiring specialist tooling, equipment and space to conduct the calibration.

The two types of calibrations that a vehicle may require are either a static calibration or a dynamic calibration. Static refers the use of targets outside of the vehicle measuring points, which may involve anything from an object to aim at, to a series of target boards, mirrors or cones required for radars, cameras and lasers.

Dynamic tests require driving the vehicle. A diagnostic scan tool is used to set the cars main control module into dynamic test mode. The vehicle must be driven while connected to the scan tool and until the cars computer recognises all the required parameters and symbols. Dynamic tests are generally done above 60 kmh down a highway with distinct lines and signs on the road. The test is completed through the scan tool once the parameters have been meet. Generally this will require two technicians in the car and potentially a second car for the repaired vehicle to use to meet certain criteria and parameters. Potentially some systems may require a combination of both a static and dynamic calibration.

WHEN ARE CALIBRATIONS REQUIRED?

So now we understand the difference between a scan and a calibration the question raised is when do have to do a calibration??

There are a number of situations that vehicle makers will require calibration/aiming of Advanced driver assist system (ADAS) parts and systems. This isn’t always limited to part replacement. Some of the instances when a calibration may be required include:

  • Removal and installation of radar, sensor or camera
  • The windshield is replaced
  • A wheel alignment has been performed
  • If the tyre size has been changed.
  • Replacement of quarter panels or radiator supports
  • Headlamp replacement
  • Plastic repairs on bumper covers

Some of these operations may seem mundane to the every day body repair shop but OEM’s have strict repair procedures requiring the need for calibrations for some of these operations. The understanding of what constitutes an advanced driver assist system, what components are attached to these systems and then the training and education of what is required to return these systems back to full function after a repair, including the procedures to completely remove the digital footprint that a repair leaves has become a necessity for the the future body repair technician.