Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to attend the Collision Industry Conference in Phoenix. This is a collision repair-focused meeting and not something I normally would write about here in Counterman
. This, however, is one of those rare instances when the sister markets share something in common and I need to share the information across the industry. I do not think that any one of these topics below will shock you. In fact, many of you will have heard of some of these things before as I have. I had actually at one time or another heard of all of these.
What I had not done was consider them in their totality. Add to it some are mandated and you have a lot to chew on. So let’s get started:
The first thing I learned was that stability control has been mandated on U.S. passenger cars for the 2012 models. While I remember when the government started the phase-in, I did not remember that all cars produced for the U.S. market were required to have ESC now. ESC is a great innovation and has been around on premium vehicles for a long time. For those who don’t know, it is an advanced vehicle system that utilizes the ABS system in conjunction with directional sensors to ensure a vehicle is heading in the direction that the wheels are turned toward.
The CIC Technical Committee delivered an excellent presentation on other safety/crash avoidance technologies that are available today and on the horizon. I will give you a brief list below to make my point:
TPMS: pretty straightforward and already on most cars;
HAC & HDC: Hill ascent and hill descent control; pretty easy to figure out what these do, but both run through the ESC components to operate;
Blind spot warning: this alerts drivers when there is someone in the vehicle’s blind spot;
Lane departure warning: this system alerts drivers when they are attempting to leave the lane they are traveling in; and
Adaptive headlights: These headlights actually follow the direction the steering wheel is pointed in.
This is all really great stuff and it is aimed at one thing our safety. There are also convenience options that can make all of our driving experiences more fun and even exciting. Remember, these are here today or coming very soon.
While all of these features are arguably very important, the concern is, are we ready to fix them? Do we have the diagnostic equipment to troubleshoot these complex interdependent systems? What about the training to diagnose these options? Not to mention the complexity of making the parts and having the right parts.
We in the aftermarket need to be aware of these features and do what we need to do to be ready to service them. Many of these systems have parts that need to be programmed before they can be used on a vehicle. When you sell that new window switch to the Camry customer, you better know to tell them that in order for it to work, it has to be identified by the vehicle’s onboard system. Otherwise, it’s coming back and so is the unhappy customer.
Change is good and in this case positive, but we need to plan now for all that it includes.
See you in the other lane if my car will let me go there.