Schnepper: Cars, sensors and scanners

Mary Barra, GM’s CEO, recently stated that the car industry will change more in the next five years than it has in the past 50. I don’t know about you, but I think the past five years have been a whirlwind of new technology. And change always brings new challenges.

Roy Schnepper

The hot topic today in the collision industry is pre- and post-scanning of cars. Pre-scan is defined as when the car first arrives at the shop, a scan is done to determine if any trouble codes have been set. Our mechanical shops have been doing this for years and, for the most part, the customer is there due to a problem with their car.

The collision shops, on the other hand, have not done scans as part of the collision estimating process, nor do they have a scanner. Most have used a local mechanical shop, a mobile mechanic or the dealership to clear codes at the end of the repair. This has worked in the past, but often caused delays for our customers because, when they scanned the car, they found other items that needed to be addressed.

Our mechanical shops, for the most part, do not do repairs on 2015-2017 cars because they’re still under factory warranty. But our collision shops do. The collision avoidance systems on today’s cars need to be recalibrated before being returned to our customers. This could be as simple as replacing a mirror that got knocked off when they backed out of the garage. The mirror may have a sensor in it that needs to be calibrated. At 2016 NACE, Mazda did a presentation on its collision avoidance system and pointed out that even a windshield replacement, because of a stone chip, will need recalibrating due to the camera and sensor mounted inside the glass.

Another example happened at my shop. We were repairing a small dent on the driver’s door of a 2016 Dodge Ram pickup. We removed the trim, handle and mirror for painting purposes. When we reassembled the door, we noticed the check engine light was on. We found that the mirror had a temperature sensor in it, and we had set a code by unplugging it. It had to be scanned to clear the code.

Factory scan tools can be expensive, especially if, like mine, your shop fixes a variety of makes and models. So what’s out there for us that’s not going to break the bank? Right now, there is a small group of ASA committee members testing a few scanners. Scott Benavidez, the ASA Collision Division director, and Bob Wills, the ASA Mechanical Division director, are working with this small group to test different scanners, how they work and which ones can bring us the results we need.

We look forward to sharing their results. And, as ASA has done in the past and will continue to do, we will provide the information and the training you’ll need to get the job done properly.