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Which Should You Choose: OEM or Aftermarket Auto Glass

Shattered Glass From Heavy Accident

Chipped, cracked, shattered—auto glass issues don’t just sound awful. They look bad and can even cause safety issues. You need to get it replaced ASAP, but how do you know what to believe about auto glass replacement quality?

Most people will say that you should only replace your auto glass with an OEM product, meaning replacement glass is designed and approved by your carmaker to fit and work right. Others will tell you that aftermarket glass—which is an unauthorized copy of the original—can be less expensive, but just as good as OEM glass.

It turns out to be more complicated than it looks at first glance.

Our Go-To Glass is OEM

Most of the glass we install in cars is OEM glass. Why? Because it was built to fit your car or truck. There is no concern about whether the product is produced to the high standards the car manufacturer demands. We’ve had great success installing OEM glass in thousands of cars.

So, end of story, right?

The truth is that manufacturers bid out contracts for their glass, and there are only a limited number of glassmakers out there. Though these glassmakers are licensed to stamp the manufacturer’s name and logo on that piece of glass, they also make aftermarket glass. In fact, they might make the aftermarket glass that could replace yours.

OEM manufacturers also know that consumers fixate on OEM parts, so they slow production on OEM window glass and only distribute through “approved” partners. This elevates prices. Vehicle manufacturers also make it difficult for aftermarket companies to produce specialized glass with rain sensors and antennas, which also drives up cost and their profit margins.

Is your Conception of Aftermarket Glass Half-full?

First off, not all replacement glass is equal.

Some replacement glass is cheap and just not as good. It may barely meet government standards and fail to meet manufacturer standards. These are the products that give aftermarket glass a terrible reputation. We avoid it, and you should, too.

Other replacement glass, though, exceeds both what the manufacturer and government demand. It may even be as good as OEM glass and costs less too.

Here is where experience and trust come in. If the right OEM part isn’t available, or maybe you want something less expensive, we can find you the best aftermarket option.

Dealing with Insurers

Unless your car is less than two years old, most insurers push aftermarket glass because it costs them less. You can pay for an OEM endorsement on your policy, which ensures OEM replacement parts—but, otherwise, if you choose OEM glass, you may have to pay the difference in cost between that and the “approved” glass.

You can, though, choose who you want to work with to replace your windshield. Insurers will push you toward their partners. You can take your chances there, or you can opt for a local company that is your advocate and will make sure you optimize your policy, get the best glass possible, and pay as little out of pocket as possible.

Who’s the lucky dog, now?

For a free estimate and straight talk, call the pros at Lucky Dog Auto Glass at 253-569-9403 today!

Worn Wiper Blades: An Underappreciated Cause of Windshield Damage

Windshield Wipers

Windshield wipers get a lot of use during the rainy season, and with that comes a fair amount of wear. Not just wear on your wiper blades, either! Worn out wiper blades can cause some serious damage to your windshield over time. Here’s a look at how this happens and what you can do to prevent it.

How Does the Damage Occur?

Windshield wiper blades have long, thin rubber arms that cover a thin metal blade. Every time the blade arms move back and forth across your windshield, the rubber slowly deteriorates, which can cause it to eventually wear away entirely. Once this happens, there’s nothing to protect the glass from the metal scraping across it and scratches are very likely to occur. It’s important to replace your wiper blades as soon as they show signs of wear to prevent your windshield from becoming damaged.

Wiper blades typically last about 6-12 months, but this can vary based on factors like the weather and the conditions you typically drive in. Rainier years will put more wear and tear on your wiper blades, making it necessary to replace them more frequently. For this reason, it’s a good idea to inspect your wiper blades on a regular basis. One easy way to remember is to take a look at them (or ask your mechanic) every time you have your oil changed. Even if your wiper blades are working well, they should be replaced as soon as you notice any streaking or visible metal.

Other Considerations

Windshield wipers may seem like a minor fixture in the grand scheme of your car, but worn blades can significantly affect your safety, as the damage they cause can severely limit your visibility. Even small scratches can obstruct your view and make it more difficult to see potential hazards.

Small imperfections (including cracks and pits) in glass can also lower the integrity of a windshield. This means if you get into an accident the force of the collision is more likely to cause the windshield to shatter, which could result in serious injuries.

Beyond safety issues, there are also legality issues to consider. Washington doesn’t have specific laws regarding damage to windshields, but there are regulations that cover windshield obstruction as well as the condition of windshield wipers. According to WAC 204-10-024, drivers “must have no obstruction forward of the windshield that extends more than two inches upward into the horizontally forward projected vision area of the windshield.” The projected vision area covers the area from the top of the steering wheel to the top of the front of the fenders or hood. If you have multiple cracks in the windshield or one within the vision area, you could be at risk of receiving a citation.

Restoring the Glass

If your wiper blades have damaged your windshield, you’ll generally have one option: replace the windshield.

If you wait to replace the blades, there could be considerable damage, like multiple scratches across the windshield or deep scratches. Unfortunately, once the damage in the glass reaches a certain depth, it’s not repairable. Your only option is to replace the windshield. If the damage is extensive on the driver’s side, even if it’s not very deep, it could still require replacement.

There are DIY repair kits available, however, it’s important to understand that nothing can replace the expert eye of auto glass professionals. Windshield repairs and recommendations are always best left to glass specialists, as there can be damage that’s not visible or other considerations. If you’ve noticed your blades have started to scratch your windshield, the best first step to take is to replace the blades. Then, give Lucky Dog Auto Glass a call! We’re happy to evaluate the damage and let you know whether it’s a candidate for repair or if a replacement would be the safer option. Contact us today at 253-569-9403 for a free estimate!

Should I Repair My Windshield, or Replace It?

New Car Windshield

Your windshield takes a beating. Things like rocks, gravel, dust, and other types of road debris can get kicked up while driving, causing areas of the windshield to become cracked, chipped, or pitted. It can be difficult to gauge the extent of the damage just by looking at it, but windshield damage shouldn’t be ignored as it can become a safety issue. Cracks can spread, scratches and pits can distort your line of sight – not to mention that damage to the glass can affect the integrity of your windshield and the structure of your vehicle! That brings us to the big question: can the damage be repaired, or do you need a complete windshield replacement?

Repair or Replacement?

One thing that’s important to understand about windshields is that although they look like a large, single piece of glass they’re made up of three layers: an inner layer of glass, a piece of polymer or resin, and an outer layer of glass.

There are several factors that we evaluate before deciding whether to repair or replace a windshield. Fortunately, small cracks and chips can typically be safely repaired if the area is small enough to be covered by a quarter. However, if the damage is within your line of sight or the windshield is old and covered in small pits and divots, it should be replaced. If your windshield can be repaired, the repair process is straightforward.

For chips, a clear, curable resin is injected into the outer layer of glass. This restores the integrity of the windshield and improves its appearance. Once the resin is cured, it’s polished to create a smooth surface that prevents the chip or crack from spreading. If you have damage that’s on the deeper side, the damage may be slightly enlarged or deepened with a drill so that the resin has a chance to penetrate the damage better.

If your windshield can be repaired, it’s best to do it immediately to prevent the damage from getting worse. Although it’s not common, small chips can potentially spread if you hit a large pothole, drive down a bumpy road, or encounter other situations that cause a jolt to your vehicle.

Avoid DIY Kits; Call the Pros

Whether you have a small chip or a large crack, it’s important to have your windshield evaluated by auto glass specialists. Although there are DIY kits out on the market, these can compromise your visibility or the integrity of your windshield. Our trained technicians will assess the damage and find the best solutions for your safety and budget. Contact Lucky Dog Auto Glass today at 253-569-9403 for a free estimate.

Worn Wiper Blades: An Underappreciated Cause of Windshield Damage

Windshield wipers get a lot of use during the rainy season, and with that comes a fair amount of wear. Not just wear on your wiper blades, either! Worn out wiper blades can cause some serious damage to your windshield over time. Here’s a look at how this happens and what you can do to prevent it.

How Does the Damage Occur?

Windshield wiper blades have long, thin rubber arms that cover a thin metal blade. Every time the blade arms move back and forth across your windshield, the rubber slowly deteriorates, which can cause it to eventually wear away entirely. Once this happens, there’s nothing to protect the glass from the metal scraping across it and scratches are very likely to occur. It’s important to replace your wiper blades as soon as they show signs of wear to prevent your windshield from becoming damaged.

Wiper blades typically last about 6-12 months, but this can vary based on factors like the weather and the conditions you typically drive-in. Rainier years will put more wear and tear on your wiper blades, making it necessary to replace them more frequently. For this reason, it’s a good idea to inspect your wiper blades on a regular basis. One easy way to remember is to take a look at them (or ask your mechanic) every time you have your oil changed. Even if your wiper blades are working well, they should be replaced as soon as you notice any streaking or visible metal.

Other Considerations

Windshield wipers may seem like a minor fixture in the grand scheme of your car, but worn blades can significantly affect your safety, as the damage they cause can severely limit your visibility. Even small scratches can obstruct your view and make it more difficult to see potential hazards.

Small imperfections (including cracks and pits) in glass can also lower the integrity of a windshield. This means if you get into an accident the force of the collision is more likely to cause the windshield to shatter, which could result in serious injuries.

Beyond safety issues, there are also legality issues to consider. Washington doesn’t have specific laws regarding damage to windshields, but there are regulations that cover windshield obstruction as well as the condition of windshield wipers. According to WAC 204-10-024, drivers “must have no obstruction forward of the windshield that extends more than two inches upward into the horizontally forward projected vision area of the windshield.” The projected vision area covers the area from the top of the steering wheel to the top of the front of the fenders or hood. If you have multiple cracks in the windshield or one within the vision area, you could be at risk of receiving a citation.

Restoring the Glass

If your wiper blades have damaged your windshield, you’ll generally have one option: replace the windshield.

If you wait to replace the blades, there could be considerable damage, like multiple scratches across the windshield or deep scratches. Unfortunately, once the damage in the glass reaches a certain depth, it’s not repairable. Your only option is to replace the windshield. If the damage is extensive on the driver’s side, even if it’s not very deep, it could still require replacement.

There are DIY repair kits available, however, it’s important to understand that nothing can replace the expert eye of auto glass professionals. Windshield repairs and recommendations are always best left to glass specialists, as there can be damage that’s not visible or other considerations. If you’ve noticed your blades have started to scratch your windshield, the best first step to take is to replace the blades. Then, give Lucky Dog Auto Glass a call! We’re happy to evaluate the damage and let you know whether it’s a candidate for repair or if a replacement would be the safer option. Contact us today at 253-569-9403 for a free estimate!

OE, OEM, and Aftermarket Windshields: What’s the Difference?

If you need your windshield replaced, you’ll discover you have several options: OE, OEM, and aftermarket. Which one would be the best choice for your vehicle? Here’s a breakdown of how each type of glass is classified and how they differ:

OE, OEM, or Aftermarket?

OE stands for “original equipment,” and includes the windshield your car was fitted with when it was made at the factory. Although OE windshields are produced by a separate, specialized company, they’re branded as the manufacturer’s own. So for example, an OE windshield that’s used in a BMW will have official BMW packaging and part numbers even though it’s actually made by another manufacturer. Auto manufacturers bid out contracts for auto glass yearly, so the company that made the OE glass in your make and model in 2004 may not be the same manufacturer used in the same make and model in 2007 – instead, the 2004 company many now be selling OEM auto glass.

Smashed Windscreen

An OEM (original equipment manufacturer) is a company that manufactures auto glass to be the same specifications (size, shape, color, thickness, and durability) as the OE glass, however, it’s not necessarily from the same distributor that supplied the glass for assembly in the factory. There may be some slight variations in OEM glass, but it’s nearly identical to OE and typically less expensive. Some OEMs will sell parts directly to consumers under their own brand name but unless these parts are supplied directly from the automaker, they can’t be classified or marketed as OE.

Aftermarket is a term that’s used widely for any alternative replacement part not fitted in the factory or produced by an OEM. These replacement parts and performance upgrades are not endorsed or branded by manufacturers, either. The quality of aftermarket parts can vary greatly; some may be lower quality while others may be comparable to an OE/OEM part. Regardless of the quality, aftermarket parts are typically less expensive than OEM parts.

OEM: A Good Balance Between Cost & Quality

The majority of windshield replacements we perform are with OEM windshields, as these provide a good balance between high-quality and cost-effectiveness. Although some claim that aftermarket glass is 100% equivalent to OEM, there are some differences. Non-OEM parts and components must be made slightly different than OE or OEM parts to avoid copyright infringement, so although they may look the same at first glance there may be slight variations in the way the windshield fits or its finish. An aftermarket windshield may not work properly with ADAS (advanced driver assistance systems), either which could impact your vehicle’s safety features. Aftermarket glass parts also aren’t typically accepted by new car manufacturers for warranty claims and in many cases, they violate the repair requirements of leasing contracts.

Ultimately, the type of glass you choose will likely come down to cost and personal preferences. Our team here at Lucky Dog Auto Glass is happy to offer recommendations to help you choose a windshield that meets your needs and budget. Contact us at 253-569-9403 for a free estimate or send us a message online.

How to Tell Whether You Need to Replace or Repair Your Windshield

If your windshield becomes damaged, one of the main questions you’ll likely have is whether it can be repaired or if you’ll need a complete replacement. Before you make that decision, there are a couple of important factors you should keep in mind.

What does your insurance policy cover?

The cost of a complete windshield replacement can vary a lot depending on your insurance policy and your type of vehicle. Most newer vehicles have ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistant System) technology located in the windshield, which significantly increases the cost of windshield replacement. Before you make a decision, it’s best to know what will be covered, what won’t, and how much you’ll have to pay out of pocket.

Do you have damage around the edge of your windshield?

Unfortunately, if there are cracks or chips around the edges, the whole structure of your windshield is compromised – which is a serious safety concern. In this case, it’s best to choose a full replacement rather than a repair.

How is your line of sight and visibility?

If your windshield is damaged near your line of sight, it could impact your visibility, even if the glass is repaired. The most dangerous part of the windshield to have damage is at about 12 inches in front of your steering wheel, extending up to the height of your windshield wipers. If you have damage within this area, we recommend replacing it for your safety.

How long is the crack?

If the entire damaged area can be covered with the size of a quarter, it can typically be repaired. For cracks longer than this, you will likely need a full replacement.

How deep is the chip?

Windshields are made from 2 layers of glass, with a layer of plastic in between. If the crack is deep enough that it reaches the inner layer of glass, it can’t be repaired. Any type of damage on the interior layer of glass will need a complete windshield replacement.

Hopefully, this has helped you decide whether you should get your windshield repaired or replaced but if you’re still unsure, contact us! We’re happy to evaluate your windshield and give you a free estimate. Schedule your estimate appointment by calling (253) 569-9403 or fill out our online form.

Why ADAS Systems Are Important To Your Safety

What is ADAS?

Most modern vehicles now feature ADAS in some form. ADAS stands for Advanced Driver Assistance Systems, and they can refer to any safety systems in your vehicle that work to avoid collisions and alert the driver to potential issues. You may not even realize you have ADAS, but is your vehicle equipped with collision avoidance systems, automatic braking, integrated GPS, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, or Bluetooth for hands-free phone calls? Then you have ADAS. These systems have adapted over time to allow for a smoother, safer driving experience. From warning drivers when leaving lanes to automatic braking to prevent collisions, when used properly these features can reduce accidents.

ADAS and Your Windshield

ADAS use technology to make your driving experience easier and safer, so it’s a good thing they are becoming more widely available. It turns out there are several ADAS features that can interact with your windshield. This includes a light sensor that triggers automatic headlights, a rain sensor that triggers automatic windshield wipers, a heads up display that projects onto the windshield, a heated windshield that melts ice and snow, and night vision that allows you to see hot spots in the road.

As cars get smarter and smarter, it’s important for people fixing cars to get smarter as well! If your vehicle is getting maintenance or repairs, it’s important for you to know about the features on your car because you will need to ensure that anyone who works on your vehicle is knowledgeable and well-equipped. If a rock chips your front windshield, you want to ensure that not only is the glass repaired, but any systems that may connect to your windshield are correctly calibrated and functional. These are amazing systems that can help you drive safer, but if they are not correctly hooked up, then they can’t work. Make sure your car or truck’s ADAS systems are fully operational by trusting an auto glass shop that uses state of the art equipment and the finest materials while staying updated on the latest technologies and safety measures. Whatever kind of vehicle you have, you can trust Lucky Dog Auto Glass to safely and properly fix your auto glass.

Contact us today at 253-569-9403 to schedule your appointment.

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What’s the Difference Between an OEM Windshield and an Aftermarket Windshield?

If you need a windshield replacement, you’ll have to make an important decision: an OEM windshield, OEE windshield, or aftermarket? This can be a difficult decision, but here’s a quick run-down on the difference between them.

An OEM windshield is essentially identical to the windshield that was installed in your car when it was manufactured. They’re made by the same company that manufactured your original windshield, so it’s a perfect match for the original. The color will be the same, as will the fit, the thickness, and the shape. It will even have the same logos. Even more importantly, all the ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems) features that connected to your original windshield will work perfectly.

Technicians Installing New Windshield

So, why wouldn’t you choose an OEM windshield? The price of the OEM glass can be 40 – 60% higher than a comparable aftermarket windshield. Some insurance companies won’t pay for OEM glass because of the higher costs. Other insurance companies may only pay for OEM glass if the vehicle is a new model – for example, a year or two old.

Other Options

There are also OEE (Original Equipment Equivalent) windshields. These are manufactured by the same companies that make OEM windshields. They’re made to the same standards as an OEM but they don’t come with the manufacturer’s logo – or the price.

Aftermarket windshields are made by companies that have no affiliation with the auto manufacturers. Believe it or not, copyright laws affect even windshield manufacturers, so aftermarket glass companies are prohibited from creating replicas of OEM windshields. They also don’t consult with the original windshield company or automaker.

Aftermarket windshields will have the same shape and fit, but there can be many differences compared to your original windshield. The tint or UV protection may be different, or the windshield may not be as thick. The original windshield ADAS features may not work properly – or at all. While aftermarket windshields are the least expensive option, they often sacrifice the quality you would find in an OEM or OEE windshield.

The type of replacement windshield that you choose will depend on your personal preferences as well as your budget. Our team at Lucky Dog Auto Glass is happy to offer recommendations and help you choose one that works best for you. Contact us at 253-569-9403 for a free estimate or send us a message through our online form.

Contact us today at 253-569-9403 to schedule your appointment.

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windshield

What You Should Know Before Hiring An Auto Glass Company

You were driving down the highway when a rock flew up and smacked your windshield. Oh, no! Immediately a large crack appears, and you just know that it will fan out across the glass. Cracks are dangerous because they impede your vision while driving, can spider to become bigger, and reduce the structural integrity of your windshield. You can also be liable for a fix-it ticket if you are pulled over by law enforcement. That’s why it’s important to get the glass replaced as soon as possible. If it’s a small chip or crack that can be repaired, it’s just as important to take your vehicle to a professional for auto glass repair before the damage gets too extensive and can’t be fixed.

When it’s time to hire an auto glass company, here are some things to keep in mind.

Research the company

Have you looked into the auto glass company online? Look at their website to get a feel for their business and get basic information, but also check out reviews on Google, Facebook, Angie’s List, or Yelp? These websites will give you information from real customers on how they were treated and the quality of the installation.

Verify insurance

Will the auto glass company accept your insurance? What do you need to do to make sure your windshield is covered? Be sure to verify coverage before getting your glass fixed or repaired, or you might be stuck with a bill you didn’t expect.

Take it to the repair shop

The best place to have your windshield replaced is at the repair shop. Although that’s not always possible for everyone because of logistics, professional technicians prefer to do repairs inside their shop, and you should too! Instead of worrying about rain, sun, wind, or other environmental factors, the tech can focus on your windshield. They have all the tools and comfort of working within a professional facility instead of in a parking lot somewhere.

Don’t rush it

It can be tempting to go with an auto glass repair company that says they can replace your windshield in under an hour. However, experts would caution you against a hasty replacement. The urethane that bonds the windshield to your car frame takes at an hour to dry before the vehicle is safe to drive. If you move the vehicle too soon, it can be disruptive to the stability of your windshield.

If you need auto glass repair in Kent, WA or the surrounding areas, be sure to call Lucky Dog Auto Glass for professional service!

Contact us today at 253-569-9403 to schedule your appointment.

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6 Tips on How to Care for Your Replacement Windshield

You’ve just had your windshield replaced; now what? It might be tempting to get back to your normal routine, but there are some important considerations. Taking proper care of your windshield immediately after it’s been replaced will ensure that it stays in great condition and lasts for many years. Here are some easy tips you should follow:

Wait To Drive

When replacing a windshield, we use an adhesive that holds the glass in place and creates a durable waterproof seal. Like many types of adhesives, this needs to have adequate time to set and dry. We recommend not driving for at least an hour after your windshield has been installed.

When you get into your car, be sure to look for any shards of glass that may have been left behind. Although we do our best to get it all cleaned up, there could be some shards that were missed. The last thing we want is for you to get injured in any way.
For the next 24 to 48 hours, there are some additional precautions to take.

Keep the area around the windshield clear

ADAS Windshield Calibration

While the seal dries, it’s important to keep the area around the windshield clear – inside and out. You don’t want anything to adhere to the seal or push against it. For the first day following installation, avoid placing any kind of cover over your vehicle or using a sunshade in the interior. You’ll also want to make sure the dashboard is free of any clutter.

Leave one of your windows cracked open

Air pressure can add additional stress to the seal as it dries. To prevent this, leave one of your windows rolled down at least an inch. This is best to do the first day after installation.

Don’t remove the retention tape

We often use a retention tape to hold the windshield and / or moldings in place. It’s not very attractive, but we recommend leaving the tape in place until the specifies safe drive-away time.

Avoid car washes and power washers

To allow the new moldings to set completely and protect them from damage or shifting, you should avoid using high-pressure car washes, automatic car washes, and power washers. If you’d like to wash your car within 48 hours of the windshield installation, we recommend a gentle hand wash.

Go easy on it

Finally, try not to put any type of unnecessary stress on the adhesive as it sets. Gently close your doors and avoid roads with poor conditions like potholes.

Your windshield replacement experts

By following these tips, it’s easy to maintain your windshield and protect your investment. For expert auto glass replacement, you can always rely on Lucky Dog Auto Glass. We’re committed to providing you with quality repairs, replacements, and exceptional customer service. We remain open and available to assist you during the COVID-19 outbreak and are taking every precaution to keep our clients and employees safe. If you would like a free estimate or you’d like to schedule auto glass replacement, contact us at 253-569-9403 or send us a message through our online form.

ADAS – The Whole Story

Automotive technology is constantly changing. One of the most innovative developments over the past decade has been the rise in Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS). ADAS is designed to make vehicles safer, with features like automatic emergency braking, lane departure warnings, and blind-spot monitoring.

To work properly, ADAS relies on a series of equipment that monitors the area around the vehicle. The type of equipment varies based on the vehicle model, but the most common ones are ultrasonic sensors, cameras, and radar. Some systems use information from a single sensor, while others utilize information from several sensors, known as “sensor fusion.”

Why ADAS Calibration is Important

ADAS sensors have precise placement on vehicles and must be calibrated if they’re moved even slightly. For example, a sensor on a car that is even a millimeter off will be aimed at an area that’s significantly off axis 50 feet down the road. Sensors are often knocked out of alignment due to collisions, but depending on the type of car, they’re also often affected by things like wheel alignments, suspension repair, and windshield replacement.

Calibration is necessary to realign the sensors properly. Failing to do so can cause them to provide faulty information, which can make the ADAS system malfunction or not work at all. Here are a few problems caused by faulty sensor input:

· A warning light or message on the instrument panel

· A diagnostic trouble code (DTC) stored in your vehicle’s computer memory

· Steering wheel vibration

· Steering pull

· Increased steering effort.

These issues can be dangerous, especially if they affect the steering. The ADAS system may also be unable to provide safety alerts, such as blind-spot monitoring, which can increase the risk of accidents. Having a malfunctioning system may also cause you to lose faith in your car’s safety features. Here’s a closer look at each sensor type:

Front-Facing Camera Sensors

Many vehicles are equipped with this type of sensor. They’re commonly used for:

· Automatic emergency braking

· Adaptive cruise control

· Lane departure warnings

· Lane-keeping assist

· Automatic headlight high-beam activation and dimming

Cameras are optical devices, so they need to be able to “see” the road. Many camera sensors are mounted against the inside of the windshield as part of an assembly integrated with the rearview mirror. Other types may be directly attached to the roof or as part of a mirror housing. Some manufacturers will use dual cameras that are spaced apart to offer better depth perception.

The high definition image receptors in these sensors are similar to those found in other types of digital cameras. ADAS camera sensors are unique because they use high-powered microprocessors and advanced data processing algorithms that change the analog image into digital information that can be used by the ADAS system.

The camera sensors view the road through the windshield and require specific rates of light transmission through the glass. For this reason, the glass must have minimal distortions or imperfections; if any are present, it can impact the ability of the sensor to collect accurate information. This is why many auto manufacturers specify that their vehicles require Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) windshield replacement is necessary on models equipped with ADAS sensors. Some dealerships won’t calibrate sensors on cars with aftermarket windshields. Lucky Dog Auto Glass has these capabilities and is happy to discuss your options with you.

Around-View Camera Sensors

Some newer vehicles use simpler, low-resolution cameras equipped at the front, rear, and sides of the vehicle to provide a 360-degree overhead view around the vehicle. They’re typically located in the front bumper or grill, under the side mirrors, and in the trunk lid or liftgate. The car’s computer combines the multiple images from the cameras to create an overall view that can be displayed on the infotainment dash screen. While these camera sensors are not as complicated those in ADAS systems, they do require calibration.

Front-Facing Radar Sensors

Front-facing radar sensors are used for features like:

· Adaptive cruise control

· Forward collision warning

· Automatic emergency braking

These sensors transmit a high-frequency radio signal that reflects off objects and returns to the sensor. The sensor then uses the amount of time for the signal to return to calculate the car’s distance from another car or object. The radar sensors are usually mounted in or behind the front bumper or grille and often have some sort of cover to protect them from damage. Many radar sensors are mounted in the center of the vehicle, but they can also be offset to one side.

Radar sensors are often hidden, which can make it difficult to determine whether a vehicle has them by visual inspection alone. One way to check is to look for adaptive cruise control switches inside the car (they’re typically on the steering wheel) or to look for a warning light for an emergency braking or adaptive cruise control system that illuminates on the dash when the car starts.

Other Types of Radar Sensors

Some rear collision warning and blind-spot monitoring systems use small radar systems mounted under the side view mirror, behind the rear bumper cover, or in the taillights. Those mounted in the bumper or taillights may also provide rear cross-traffic alerts to aid backing out of parking spaces.

Most auto manufacturers don’t allow repairs on bumper covers in front of radar sensors because it can cause interference. They also recommend using only OEM bumper covers that are designed to work with the radar sensors. Automakers also advise against putting bumper stickers near the radar sensors as these can cause interference as well.

Ultrasonic Sensors

Ultrasonic sensors are generally used for parking assistance, blind-spot monitoring, and self-parking systems. They’re installed in the front and/or rear bumper covers. Ultrasonic sensors work similarly to radar sensors, but they use reflected high-frequency sound waves to detect objects around the vehicle. Unlike other sensors, ultrasonic sensors don’t need calibration, but they do need to be placed very precisely to work properly. For this reason, some automakers discourage the use of aftermarket, reconditioned, or recycled parts. These parts may not have the necessary predrilled holes that allow the sensors to work properly, or they could be warped or distorted.

Steering Angle Sensors

These sensors are typically built into the steering column and measure the degree of steering wheel rotation. They’re used for:

· Lane departure warnings

· Lane-keeping

· Adaptive headlights

· Electronic stability control

· Adaptive suspensions

Sensor Calibration

As previously mentioned, ADAS sensor calibration is needed any time a sensor’s aim is altered in any way. They can be disturbed by a fender bender or simply routine repairs or maintenance. Calibration is also needed if:

· A sensor or its mounting bracket is removed or replaced

· There’s a change in tire size

· A front airbag deploys and deflects off the windshield

· Repairs are made to a roof with a sensor bracket mounted on it

· When there is a related DTC in the car’s computer memory

· The automaker releases a technical service bulletin that specifies calibration be done as part of another repair

Sensor replacement and recalibration are common with collision repairs and windshield repairs. Automakers recommend shops perform a complete diagnostic before the repairs are done as well as once the repairs are complete. This helps shops know if the system was working properly before they begin the work and to confirm that all the issues have been resolved afterward.

ADAS calibration can be complex and time-consuming. Some sensors can be calibrated at the shop, while others may require the vehicle to be driven. Some sensors may require both methods. Calibration time can vary depending on which methods are needed. Simpler calibrations can take about 30 minutes while the more complicated ones can take an hour or more. When calibration is needed, it adds to labor and repair costs.

Items Needed for Sensor Calibration

Since sensor calibration is very precise, many repair shops and windshield installers send their clients to the dealership to have it performed. It’s a significant investment to perform sensor calibrations as it requires specialized tools:

· Service information that describes the equipment and procedures for the year, make, and model of vehicle. This is occasionally available aftermarket, but generally must be obtained from the manufacturer. Either option is an expense for the shop.

· A car computer scanner that supports ADAS sensor calibration. These are available for the factory for specific automakers or an aftermarket device. Special tools that are designed specifically for ADAS sensor alignment are also available.

· A large, level, well-lit facility without clutter or metallic objects. This gives the necessary room to make sure the sensor’s aim and positioning are correct and eliminates objects that could interfere with the sensor calibration.

· A wheel alignment rack. Many automakers either require or recommend a four-wheel alignment to be done before ADAS calibration. This ensures the vehicle’s centerline is straight while the steering wheel is centered. The ADAS sensors can then be calibrated in alignment with the center of the vehicle.

Preparing Your Vehicle for ADAS Calibrations

There are also manufacturer requirements shops must follow to prepare the vehicle for calibration. Some common ones include:

· No unnecessary or heavy items in the vehicle

· Proper tire pressure

· Front and rear vehicle ride height within specifications

· A full fuel tank

· A clean windshield (if applicable)

· Removing the protective cover from the radar sensor (if applicable)

· Performing a wheel alignment (if applicable)

Calibration Methods

There are two types of ADAS sensor calibration methods: static and dynamic. The process can vary significantly depending on the make and model of the vehicle, but here’s an overview of the general process for each method:

Static Calibration

This is also referred to as “in-shop” calibration. This begins with establishing the centerline (also called thrust line) of the vehicle. There’s a variety of measuring methods and tools specified by automakers for this process but often the tools are attached to or aligned with the front and rear wheel hubs. The next step involves positioning special targets in locations that are relative to the thrust line and sensor. The targets must be at a specific height, and many must be used with specialized adjustable mounting stands.

Camera sensor aiming targets are generally black and white patterned images that are purchased or downloaded. Some vehicles require specific lighting for proper calibration. Radar targets are similar to those of camera sensors, but they include metal elements. These will reflect radio waves back to the sensor. There are also metal cone-shaped radar targets. These are positioned with the open end of the cone facing the vehicle, which allows the radio waves to reflect to the sensor.

Some vehicles may also require the sensors to be mechanically leveled. For example, Volvo uses a bracket with a bubble level that fits over the radar sensor housing. A screw mechanism is used to adjust the sensor’s horizontal aim, which requires the vehicle to be on a perfectly level surface.

After the previous calibrations have been made, the last step is to initiate the aiming process with a scan tool. After initialization, the process is automatic. If additional adjustments are necessary, the scan tool will provide instructions. Once static calibration has been completed, many ADAS systems require a dynamic calibration. Even if it’s not required, a test drive is recommended to ensure proper calibration of the system and to check for ADAS diagnostic codes. Some systems will not display codes or error messages until the car has been driven a set distance.

Dynamic (On-Road) Calibration

Dynamic calibration is often the only method required for camera sensors, while radar sensors often require both static and on-road calibration. During dynamic calibration, the process is initiated with a factory scan tool, then the car is taken for a drive on a straight road with clear lane markings. The car is driven for 5 to 30 minutes at the required speeds until the scan tool says the calibration is finished. Some cars may also display a warning light or a message on the dash to indicate the calibration completed successfully.

Depending on the vehicle, calibration may work better with minimal traffic; other vehicles calibrate faster when more traffic is detected. Calibration often isn’t recommended during weather conditions that make the lane markings difficult to see or when it’s not safe to drive at the required speeds.

Around-View Camera Calibration

This type of calibration is required when one or more of the cameras are replaced or when a mounting part is removed or replaced. Around-view cameras typically require only static calibration, although some systems require an on-road dynamic method. With static calibration, large patterned mats are placed around the vehicle, then the factory scan tool is used to initiate calibration.

Steering Angle Sensor Calibration

This type of calibration may be needed after an airbag deploys, structural repairs are performed, or the wheels are aligned. Steering angle sensor calibration generally involves facing the wheels straight ahead, then using a scan tool to zero out the sensor’s signal.

Higher Costs, Improved Vehicle Safety

ADAS systems make vehicles safer and easier to drive, but they also make them more complex when it comes to certain repairs. Having a windshield replacement or wheel alignment on a car with an ADAS system is often significantly more expensive than a car without one. This is because of the additional labor and processes to calibrate the sensors properly, as well as the necessity for OEM parts. However, it’s well worth having the peace of mind that your vehicle’s safety features are working as they should.

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