Warning, Replacing Your Autonomous Car’s Windshield Can Cost You

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Shifting to electric cars is a good way to cut back on gas emissions, but it’s not good to rush into buying anything until you’ve calculated the practical costs of owning one.  So, despite the recent climate change rallies in Barrie City, do take your time to find out if you’re ready for your first high-tech vehicle.

How do you maintain a high-tech automobile?

If you have an ADAS-enabled or electric vehicle, a regular oil change, battery test, and tire pressure correction are not enough to keep your car in perfect condition. These cars typically run an Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems (ADAS) through electronic control units (ECUs) that operate as part of an embedded centralized network.  Simply put, they’re like computers with wheels. Maintaining them is like maintaining a computer and a car, combined.  

How will this affect auto glass repair and windshield replacement? Since ADAS relies on sensors—cameras or radars—that are installed in strategic locations in your car, replacing a damaged windshield requires more than just your typical auto glass replacement.

Instead, it would need an OEM-manufactured glass that has the exact specifications as the one you’re replacing. This means higher costs for the following reasons:

  • It’s an original, more advanced tech product.
  • It requires calibration.
  • It involves highly-skilled work.

Advanced Technology: Meet Your Sensory Windshields

To be able to maintain a safe pace, prevent collisions, and park properly, ADAS-equipped cars have the following sensors:

  • Front-facing camera sensors
  • Front-facing radar sensors for adaptive cruise control and emergency braking
  • Ultrasonic sensors for parking assist
  • Steering angle sensors for lane-keeping
  • Other camera sensors in the front, rear, or sides for an enhanced overhead view

Some front-facing cameras are a melded part of the car’s windshield. That’s right, not attached, but integrated into the windshield. In some cars, they are part of the rearview mirror that’s mounted on the windshield from inside the roof.

But even if your front-facing camera is not integrated or mounted on your windshield, it doesn’t mean that changing your windshield will not affect these sensitive sensor’s work.

These camera sensors are programmed for specific rates of light transmission. Thus, for them to be able to provide accurate information, they need to team up with a windshield with minimal imperfections and distortions.

Because a camera-windshield mismatch can be dangerous, many car manufacturers instruct owners to use only OEM windshields should they need to replace the original auto glass.

Calibration: replacement is just the first step

Any change in your high-tech car, windshield replacement included, requires re-calibration.

Think of it this way. When using your mobile phone’s auto-focus camera, you need to give it a few seconds to focus before capturing an image. When you change your focus by tapping on a different object on the screen, you need to give it a few more seconds to refocus.

It’s more complicated with a “computerized” car, of course. But the idea is that the car’s computer needs to quantify the changes, process it, and make the necessary adjustments for it to function in sync with those adjustments.

This calibration process would vary from one vehicle to another. It could also vary depending on the number of changes made, such as the number of cameras replaced.

That said, one simple reset can do the trick for some while calibration may involve taking measurements and manual adjustments for others.

It can also either be static, or done in-shop, or dynamic, which involves taking the car out on the road, a preferred method that some automakers specifically requires.

There’s a premium on skilled work

This is not to say that old school windshield replacement is not highly skilled work. But as you may have noticed, replacing an autonomous or electric car’s windshield is not your usual cup of tea.

It would require additional knowledge and skill, not only because one is fixing computerized cars, but also because different brands may have different technologies or programs.

Thus, calibrating a Mercedez may be different from calibrating a Tesla.

So, do you think it’s worth it to upgrade to a car with more advanced technology?

Any kind of new technology comes with a price. But this should not stop us from supporting innovations. Sure, you may not find your name may on some wall of fame, but the world will always be thankful to early adopters like you, who make it possible for new technology to advance.