When ADAS Can't See: Adaptive Cruise Control System

Collision repairs on vehicles equipped with advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) can have more restrictions than vehicles without ADAS. Items that historically would be a simple repair may now need to be replaced. The ADAS needs to be able to see/sense in some way, whether it be by radar, camera-view, ultrasonic, etc. Repairers need to keep sensor/camera field of vision clear to avoid system malfunctions. For example, repair material that would normally be used to repair a gouge in a bumper cover is now a problem because it can block the sensor’s field of vision and may not allow the sensor to function properly.

Some OEMs have warnings against making repairs in front of sensors/cameras or a certain distance from the sensors/cameras. However, many times there is also a list of other items that can block the sensor/camera view. Let’s take a look at some common things or materials that can interfere with the adaptive cruise control (ACC) system.

Adaptive cruise control systems primarily use cameras and sensors to regulate distance to the vehicle ahead. For camera-based systems, the camera needs a clear view in front of the vehicle and of the vehicle in front of it. In most cases, any damage in front of the camera’s view is not repairable. If there is a stone chip or any other damage by the camera, the windshield may require replacement. When replacing a windshield, it is important to look for any defects in what will be the camera’s vision path.

ACC systems that use radars also require an unobstructed view in front of the vehicle. Radars mounted behind the front bumper cover or grille can be blinded by repair materials or excessive refinish materials. The signal from radar can change speeds after passing through repair material, giving false readings. For this reason, a normally repairable bumper cover may be a candidate for replacement.

The windshield and the bumper cover normally receives the worst of what mother nature can throw at it. Most forms of precipitation, such as rain, snow, and ice, can blind the camera and block the radar. Direct sunlight may also make it difficult for the camera to see. A dirty windshield or bumper cover can block the camera’s or radar’s field of view. Dead bugs, dust, and mud may need to be removed for the ACC system to work properly.

To prevent impeding the ability of the ADAS to function and potentially fail, check OEM repair information to identify what restrictions may apply to the repairs you are considering. Always verify that the ADAS is functioning properly after completing repairs.

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