The Real Risks of Improperly Calibrated ADAS
April 8, 2024

Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) are responsible for operating some of the most common safety features on modern vehicles. These systems rely on sensors and cameras, which need to be calibrated correctly in order for their features to work properly.

Here we discuss the importance of ADAS recalibration, including the real dangers of improper or missed calibration, and how repairers ensure these systems operate correctly.

What is ADAS on vehicles?

Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) deliver some of the most popular and important onboard safety features on modern vehicles.

They use cameras and sensors located around the vehicle to scan the surrounding environment, identify emerging hazards, and deliver warnings or corrective manoeuvres to reduce the risk of collision.

Some of the most well-known ADAS-powered safety features include:

  • Lane & position correction
  • Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB)
  • Pedestrian & hazard detection
  • Blind spot monitoring
  • Adaptive cruise control

Why does ADAS need calibrating?

ADAS systems rely on precise calibration of their cameras and sensors in order to accurately scan and detect potential hazards around the vehicle.

These sensors can easily be knocked out of position if you’re involved in a collision (even a minor bump) or if your vehicle undergoes repairs to its panels, wheels, suspension, or even its windscreen.

If this happens, ADAS-powered safety features could stop working, or intervene when they’re not needed, posing risks to vehicle safety.

It’s therefore critical that ADAS calibration is checked and corrected in full if there’s even a small chance they may have been disrupted. 

What happens if ADAS isn’t calibrated properly?

Failure to calibrate ADAS properly can lead to serious implications for drivers and their vehicles, including:

Critical safety features will fail to work properly

If ADAS sensors aren’t calibrated correctly, then the vital safety features that rely on them will fail to work properly. This could mean that warnings and interventions fail to activate when they’re needed most, potentially increasing the risk and severity of an incident.

The vehicle may not work at all

Some ADAS features may render your vehicle completely unusable if they aren’t calibrated properly. Features like autonomous braking may prevent the vehicle from moving if sensors can’t pick up the surrounding environment, due to their line of vision being blocked or impeded.

It could pose real dangers to driver safety

If miscalibration causes ADAS to malfunction while you’re driving, the system may activate interventions or corrective manoeuvres when they aren’t needed. In extreme cases, this could cause your vehicle to swerve or brake unexpectedly, posing serious risks to both drivers and other road users.

How does ADAS recalibration work?

ADAS calibration must be conducted by a skilled professional, with the right tools, training, and techniques to ensure the system remains in full working order.

Check out this quick video to see how Activate Accident Repair perform ADAS recalibration at our bodyshops:

Here’s how the ADAS recalibration process works:

1 – ADAS sensors are checked using calibration equipment

First and foremost, the vehicle is plugged into diagnostic equipment to identify any errors or warnings with ADAS or any other onboard technologies. This helps technicians to identify any major faults through error codes, which relate to specific components or sensors on the vehicle.

2 – Four wheel alignment is checked & corrected

After the initial diagnostic scan, the vehicle is placed on an alignment machine to ensure the wheels are positioned and aligned correctly. ADAS relies on proper alignment to function properly, so checking this allows the technician to identify and correct any issues which may impact functionality.

3 – Road test to ensure correct calibration

Once the vehicle’s alignment has been checked, and all diagnostics are clear, it will be taken for a road test to confirm this process has been completed sufficiently. This gives the technician opportunity to check and correct any outstanding alignment issues before ADAS calibration can begin.

4 – ADAS is calibrated using either static or dynamic techniques

ADAS calibration is conducted using specialist equipment, compatible with the vehicle’s onboard system and sensors. This can either be completed using ‘static’ or ‘dynamic’ calibration techniques.

Static ADAS calibration

Static calibration is conducted in a workshop or garage, while the vehicle is stationary. It uses physical ‘targets’ to align the vehicle sensors to manufacturer specification, which can be moved around the vehicle to target sensors in different areas. 

Dynamic ADAS calibration

Dynamic calibration is conducted while the vehicle is moving, at the speed and in road conditions recommended by the manufacturer. A technician will ride alongside the driver to recalibrate the sensors, either using the car’s calibration mode, or using a portable device, to return them to factory specifications.

5 – The vehicle is rechecked & scanned for errors

Once its sensors have been calibrated, the vehicle is rechecked with diagnostic equipment to ensure no additional errors have been raised during the process. If there are any errors present which could impact ADAS or its features, these must be rectified, and the vehicle must be recalibrated in full.

6 – Formal calibration report is produced

Once the technician is satisfied that the ADAS system is working properly, a formal calibration report will be produced – using the calibration notification exported directly from the vehicle’s onboard computer. This allows technicians to highlight any issues they’ve corrected, and confirm that they’ve taken all the necessary precautions to ensure accurate, manufacturer-standard calibration before returning the vehicle to the customer.

ADAS Recalibration at Activate Accident Repair

All of our UK Activate Accident Repair bodyshops have the facilities and expertise necessary to perform both static and dynamic ADAS calibration in-house when it’s required.

Our technicians follow manufacturer guidelines to ensure ADAS systems are checked and recalibrated when necessary, and to the criteria mandated by the manufacturer.

We always inform our customers when recalibration is needed, and confirm with them when it has been completed. Safety is paramount to all vehicle repairs conducted at our bodyshops, making ADAS calibration a vital part of our everyday processes.

Learn more about our Activate Accident Repair centres here

In Summary…

Advanced Driver Assistance Systems are responsible for some of the most prominent safety features on modern vehicles – like lane assist and autonomous emergency braking.

These systems rely on cameras and sensors located around the vehicle to monitor the surrounding environment, which must be precisely calibrated for safety features to work properly.

ADAS sensors can be easily knocked out of alignment during minor incidents or common repairs – even something as simple as a tyre replacement can shift them out of calibration. If this happens, the system can malfunction, and even cause the vehicle to lose control – posing serious risks to driver safety.

It’s therefore crucial that ADAS is recalibrated if your vehicle is involved in a collision, or undergoes repairs which may impact the accuracy of its sensors.

During a vehicle calibration, a qualified technician will:

  1. Scan the vehicle with diagnostic equipment to identify any errors
  2. Check the wheel alignment, and correct if necessary
  3. Road test to ensure correct alignment
  4. Calibrate the sensors using either dynamic or static techniques
  5. Recheck the vehicle for any errors raised during calibration
  6. Assess the vehicle in full, and produce a calibration report
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