Tools For Calibration

The forward facing camera aiming procedure is being done on this 2016 Honda Civic Touring.

With all of the new advanced safety, driver convenience, and collision mitigation systems on today’s vehicles, there has been a lot of talk about having to calibrate the system following collision repairs. Many industry professionals are wondering when is it required to recalibrate the system, which, if any, special tools are required, if a scan tool is required, and if there are procedures available. Here are some answers to these questions.

When a system needs to be calibrated depends on what has happened to the system. Most OEMs require calibration after removing a component such as a radar or forward-facing camera. Some need to be calibrated after the component that houses a camera or radar is removed, or when a part adjacent to the component is removed; a windshield replacement, bumper R&I, or side mirror removal, for example. Some systems may need to be calibrated even after a minor collision. To determine if calibration is required, access to OEM information is required.

Special tool requirements vary among the OEMs, but many have the same concept. Most of the tools required for camera aiming resemble some type of target. Some of the targets are available on the OEM’s website and can be simply printed off; others need to be purchased. The target mounting can vary from having to buy a specified stand, to being able to mount the target on a piece of plywood. Radar aiming has a little bit different concept. The radar units detect metal objects so the targets can range from a flat, reflective sheet of metal, to a pyramid-shaped metal cone. These radar targets must be mounted on nonmetallic stands. These targets and stands are available from the OEM. Some OEMs even require that the vehicle be placed on an alignment rack. Most calibration procedures recommend the use of a scan tool to initiate the aiming procedure.

For most of the OEMs, calibration or aiming procedures are available on their repair websites. The procedures may include specific in-shop procedures, where you need an open, level area and have to make measurements to position the target(s) in the proper place (static calibration). Other procedures require the vehicle to be driven under specified conditions (dynamic calibration), with a scan tool, and the systems will calibrate itself.

Failure to be properly informed about calibration can have catastrophic consequences. Make sure you know how the vehicle you are repairing is equipped, and which systems require calibration.

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