Gesture control. Inflatable seat belts. Adaptive steering. Remote-control parking. Rearview mirrors with streaming HD video.
These are some of the high-tech safety and convenience features found on today’s vehicles. While advanced driver-assist systems might be making life easier for drivers, they’re making things much more complicated for collision repairers.
“New high-end vehicles have up to 100 million lines of code,” said Jake Rodenroth, director of client services for asTech. “There are only 60 million lines of code in all of Facebook. So these are very complex machines that we’re working on.”
During a presentation at Centerline CARSTAR Collision in Strongsville, Ohio, Rodenroth talked about the changing landscape of collision repair, the ever-growing sophistication of vehicles and the importance of plugging into OEM repair procedures by performing pre- and post-repair diagnostic scans.
Using asTech reports as examples – the company performs 10,000 vehicle scans a month – Rodenroth asserted that collision repairers “can’t just start taking things off and banging on cars anymore.”
Take a battery disconnect. Once a straightforward operation requiring not much more than a 10-millimeter wrench, Rodenroth noted that on a 2011 Nissan Armada, the OEM repair procedures also call for resetting the electronic components.
“Now I have a chart of things I must do,” Rodenroth said. “That includes idle air relearn for the fuel injection, steering angle neutral-position relearn, automatic back door initialization and sunroof initialization. Then it talks about the radio presets.
“These are additional steps because I disconnected the battery, and we disconnect a lot of batteries in this business. It will only become more important on these newer vehicles.”
Scan Whole Vehicles
Rodenroth emphasized that when body shops perform pre-repair scans, they should scan whole vehicles, not partially disassembled vehicles.
“You want to know what the vehicle came in with when it was dropped off, and you want to know what it’s going to leave with when it’s fully assembled,” he said. “If it has parts hanging off of it, you’re going to have fault codes stored in the car.”
Case in point: The pre-repair asTech scan for a 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid showed 11 fault codes; the post-repair scan showed 41 codes.
“We introduced 30 fault codes to this vehicle because of the nature of our business,” Rodenroth said. “We disassemble way down there, then we do body repair over here, then we paint it over there, and then we take it outside, and then we clean it over here. These cars don’t know that they’re in a body shop.”
As vehicles continue to become more sophisticated, Rodenroth offered these additional suggestions for collision repairers:
- Make sure your file tells the story. Use before-and-after photos, scan-tool reports and OEM repair procedures to document the steps you’ve taken to properly repair a vehicle. “It’s a bad feeling if you’re sitting in litigation over a diminished-value claim – or hopefully not an injury or death – and your file doesn’t tell the story,” Rodenroth said.
- Check ALLDATA. For every vehicle that you repair, check ALLDATA for the required repair procedures and inspections. Type in the word “relearn” for a “cheat sheet” of the programming and re-initialization procedures. “Now you can look at the area of the vehicle that you’ve repaired and have documentation to show point of impact,” Rodenroth explained.
- Conduct test drives. “Certain control modules like TPMS, traction control, ABS and blind-spot monitors don’t go active until wheel-speed data has been achieved,” Rodenroth explained. “In Toyota’s case, the blind-spot monitor in drive doesn’t go active until 17 miles per hour.”
Earlier in the week, Plano, Texas-based Repairify – the parent company of asTech – announced that it has acquired three firms that provide mobile automotive diagnostic services. Rodenroth noted that the deals are part of the company’s long-term goal to be “a complete solution to our collision ships.”
“A lot of people think we’re a scan-tool company,” Rodenroth added. “We’re a 100 percent service company.”