ADAS – A familiar feeling?

Technicians & motorists alike are curious & looking for answers on how it works, how it fails, and how it will be repaired.

By Ryan Kooiman

Advanced Driver Assistance Systems – or ADAS, as it’s more commonly referred to – has quickly become an industry buzzword.

There’s no shortage of discussion, opinions, and questions about it.

Technicians and motorists alike are curious about it and are looking for the answers on how it works, how it fails, and how it will be repaired.

Many have embraced it, while others skeptically stand on the sidelines.

As we look toward the future with autonomous vehicles, ADAS is one stepping stone.

There is the mindset of many – that many drivers won’t trust it.

So they will avoid it.

However, in many cases, they unwittingly already use it.

My Parents

When I take my parents, who are in their mid-70s, for a ride in my car with adaptive cruise control, they are horrified and won’t trust it. They expect me to rear-end the car in front of me while pressing an imaginary brake pedal on the passenger side floorboard.

Then they hop in their new Honda Odyssey and use the backup camera, blind-spot detection system, lane-watch system, and lane-keep system!

They are already using and benefitting from ADAS without realizing it.

Before they know it, they’ll be using adaptive cruise control as well.

ADAS Systems

As shown in this image, ADAS is comprised of many different systems, doing different things in different ways, but all with the common goal of increasing safety and reducing accidents.

These are complicated systems that require a trained technician to diagnose, repair, and calibrate them.


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But, as I stated in the title, isn’t this something we’ve dealt with before?

When I began my career as an aftermarket repair technician in the early ‘90s, there was the confusion of fuel injection, and distributor-less ignition systems.

Then came the horror of ODBII and EVAP emission testing. There were discussions that the manufacturers were essentially sealing the hoods and locking the aftermarket out, or that the government was coming in and overseeing our repairs and telling our customers if we did it right.

Add in conversations about ABS, airbags, drive by wire, electronic steering, and it’s really amazing that we’re still servicing vehicles (understand my facetious tone)!

Been Down This Path

My point is that we’ve been down the path where the aftermarket service technician needs to rise to the occasion, learn something new, and tool up for it, and we’ve survived if not thrived because of it.

ADAS is no different.

Some will say it is, due to the safety nature of the systems, but again I point back to ABS, air bags, drive by wire, and more. These are all crucial systems that need to be operating properly to create a safely operating vehicle.

Fortunate Time

We are fortunate to be operating in a time where OE level information and tooling is very affordable.

Back in the days where OBDII was emerging, my shop had a big box scope that cost more in 1992 dollars than my collection of 10 OE scan tools do in 2019 dollars!

With the help of various associations, such as ASA and NASTF in our corner, we are able to provide many services to our customers.

As mentioned, with ADAS, there is a need for information, training, and tooling. Unfortunately, with the previous safety systems many shops decided that “Just In Time Learning” was acceptable.

‘Tooled Up’ Ahead of Time

I will make the argument that with ADAS we need to be trained and tooled up ahead of time.

I recently was listening to a conversation with a shop owner who said, “We haven’t seen them yet and don’t know anything about them yet, but sure, we’ll tackle it when it comes in.”

That is a business model that many of us have gotten away with for many years, but again, if we are the professionals we claim to be, we need to ensure that we are trained and tooled up prior to “tackling it when it comes in.”

The Consequences

What are the consequences of getting a car in and not having the required equipment to calibrate the system and being able to complete it?

What are the consequences of calibrating the system incorrectly, or not calibrating the system at all?

Just because the warning light on the dash isn’t illuminated doesn’t mean that the system is operating properly.

Need to Pay Attention

Many times, I walk through shops and see repairs being performed with no consideration for the ADAS component being affected.

These are seemingly unrelated tasks such as removing the front fascia off a vehicle (with an adaptive cruise control radar) to replace the AC condenser, replace a windshield (with a forward facing camera), replace a mirror (with a camera), or performing an alignment (when a steering angle sensor is involved).

Depending on the vehicle that these tasks are being done on, there is probably a calibration required.

‘Can My Tool Really Do This Job?’

Always take the time to read the instructions prior to beginning the job and pay close attention to the fine print. Then ask yourself, “Do I have the tools required to complete this job?” or “Can my tool really do this job?”

I recently attempted a calibration with a tool, and it was only able to perform half of the calibration, so I had to grab a different tool to complete the job.

Was that accurate?

What is my confidence level in tool #1 for the next time?

These are just a few questions that I’ve come up with, but I’m hoping that you have thought of these before and have started to formulate a plan for yourself and your business.

Preparing For Your ADAS Journey

To begin your preparing for your journey of working on ADAS systems, there are plenty of opportunities available. One that we have to offer is an online class through our Pro Training On-Demand program that you can find at pts.smpcorp.com.

You can purchase the class there directly or purchase an annual subscription (#STD100) through your local Standard parts supplier.

ASA National Meeting Training

An additional opportunity will be at the upcoming ASA Annual Meeting & Conference in Texas. We will be doing a full session on ADAS as well as have a hands-on demo in which we will be doing a calibration on a vehicle.

Robby Schrimsher

Robby Schrimsher, our new Training Development Manager, will be teaching this session.

Robby recently joined our team and came to us after several years as a successful mobile diagnostic technician, where he successfully completed hundreds of ADAS diagnosis and calibrations.

Join this session to watch Robby in action and learn for yourself.


Ryan Kooiman is Director of Training for Standard Motor Products. Prior to his career in the training department, Ryan spent 18 years as an aftermarket technician, and specialized in diagnostics and programming. In additional to overseeing training and technical services responsibilities at SMP, Ryan strives to stay up to date with new technologies that will affect the aftermarket and remain in touch with what is still happening in the service bays.

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