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Windshield Calibration

Recalibrations are important. Among other myths about calibrations you may hear that if you don’t disconnect your camera you don’t need to recalibrate it, or that your car will throw a code or give you warning if it needs to be recalibrated. Even service advisors and glass companies that should know better propogate these myths. Protect yourself and your loved ones by recalibrating your camera after service.

Fusion Windshield can come to you and do a recalibration on site to make sure that your camera’s are aimed correctly and doing the job they are designed to do. If you filed a claim with your insurance for your replacement, your calibration will be included and will not cost extra. Call or text us today to schedule your calibration service.

Here are two great articles about the importance of recalibration of windshield cameras.

No Myth About it: Calibration is Important

No Myth About it: Calibration is Important

For Barry Lintner, owner and partner of Lloyd’s Glass & Correct Calibration Services in Pensacola, Fla., calibration has always been important “but none of us knew it,” he says.

Lintner’s company, which he owns with his son, performs 100 calibrations and installs 600 to 700 windshields per month. He has been in the auto glass industry for 50 years, after taking a job as a windshield installer at age 20 at a glass shop in Pittsburgh.

 

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“[Calibration is] such an interesting topic. Anybody who doesn’t understand the importance of calibration is living on another planet,” says Lintner.

Lintner says that calibration is necessary, required by manufacturers, and, if a vehicle is not calibrated, its camera could become unsure of what it is looking at.

“It’s important because you’re putting someone’s life at risk,” Lintner says.

Auto glass companies who do not calibrate, Lintner says, are just not worried about calibration, but are misinformed. Just because a warning light does not come on in a vehicle, does not mean there isn’t a problem, he warns.

Lintner says that car dealerships used to be the leading source of misinformation about warning lights, because they did not run scans of vehicles, instead just looking for faulty codes.

“A miscalibrated camera will not pull a faulty code,” Lintner says. Dealerships are “now up to speed,” he adds, and no longer part of the problem creating misinformation in the industry.

Windshield installers who do not want to tell customers that calibration must be done are at a disadvantage, he explains. He says some do not want to follow rules, and calibration is an expense, as well as requires training staff, and each installer must take the time to calibrate each vehicle.

“It’s extremely complicated,” Lintner says, but important. “[The vehicle’s camera] is supposed to be protecting people.” Vehicles do not have a fault code for miscalibration.

And auto glass shops must stay informed about updates and data regarding ADAS. “It’s a full-time job just to stay on top of this stuff,” Lintner says.

Lintner says he thinks technology in vehicles “is absolutely amazing.” It is forcing barriers to entry in the auto industry for anyone who does not want to keep up to date with technology, he suggests, adding, “The industry has to move along with technology.”

Jacques Navant, chair of the Auto Glass Safety Council’s Advanced Driver Assistance System committee, says “the importance of dispelling myths” is important to calibration.

On the west coast, where he is in California, and he believes possibly throughout the United States, “there’s an urban legend that if you don’t unplug you don’t have to calibrate it,” Navant says.

Navant compares calibration to getting a new pair of eyeglasses. When your prescription changes, it must be recalibrated to fit your eyesight.

“And that’s what the calibration process is,” Navant says, adding that the myth that calibration is not important is hurtful to consumers and installers, and the industry as a whole.

If not calibrated, a vehicle’s camera will have to work overtime, “and by the time it realizes the part is bad, it’s going to be too late,” Navant says. The camera may be unable to recognize its surroundings.

Another myth, Navant says, is that a light will come on in the instrument panel to warn of a problem. “A lot of people are very reliant on technology,” Navant says. They expect the vehicle to tell them if something is wrong.

If not calibrated properly, a vehicle may favor solid lines on the road, not dotted lines. And no light in the instrument panel will warn of that issue.

“We’re all in a new world now [with technology in vehicles],” Navant says.

According to Navant, if a customer thinks a vehicle has not been calibrated or was calibrated incorrectly, they should return the vehicle to the shop where the work was done.

Navant says that when work is done on a vehicle, the customer should be provided pre-scan and post-scan reports. The post-scan report shows that the vehicle was calibrated and then driven afterward to ensure no problems exist.

“If they don’t get that paperwork, then I would be worried that something wasn’t done correctly,” Navant says.

Ten Misconceptions Keep Companies from Understanding the Importance of Calibration

Myth Busters

by Rebecca J. Barnabi

Life is full of myths.

The Loch Ness Monster, unicorns, and who shot President John F. Kennedy are just a few. When it comes to the importance of calibration in the auto glass industry, however, separating fact from fiction can mean saving someone’s life and the reputation of your business.
“The people in our industry need to know [the myths],” says Barry Lintner, owner of Lloyd’s Glass & Correct Calibration Services in Pensacola, Fla.

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Busting the Myths

1 “It’s not needed,”  says Kris Griffin, owner of Calibrators of the Carolinas. Griffin began in the automotive industry in 2004 as a service technician for BMW. He entered the auto glass side in 2012 and opened his calibration business two years ago.

Griffin said installers believe calibration is unnecessary because the system may perform correctly right after a windshield replacement. The customer may drive the car out of the shop, and nothing goes wrong until a week or five weeks or six months later, as the vehicle begins to show false alerts because something is wrong in the system.

“The calibration is an insurance policy to ensure you have the vehicle’s components in the proper places,” Griffin says. “That’s a huge deal.” Calibration makes it certain for the glass installer that after installation, the vehicle is returned to its original manufacturer tolerances, as Griffin calls them.

Also, if calibration is not performed, an installer cannot know if a piece of glass is bad or if the camera bracket is misplaced. “That’s how we find out we have a faulty part,” Griffin says.

2 “Every car can be calibrated successfully.” According to Lintner, vehicles modified from the manufacturer’s specifications, such as pickup trucks lifted and on bigger tires, cannot always be calibrated. “There’s only a certain range where you can calibrate to,” Lintner says.

3 “If I didn’t unplug the camera, it doesn’t need to be calibrated.”
This is probably the most common myth and the most egregious, says George Weller, president of Zenith Auto Glass in Duluth, Minn. An auto glass installer can replace a windshield, snap the camera back into place, and the vehicle will run, but it will not be accurate without calibration.

“An accurate calibration is absolutely the difference between a hit and a miss, and one-degree matters,” Weller says.

According to Weller, if the camera aim is off by only one degree, that translates to the lane assist program being off by 8 feet at 100 feet away, which is more than half the distance of a vehicle. A vehicle traveling at 30 mph requires a stopping distance of 89 feet on dry
pavement to stop in time, and if calibration was not performed, the results could be severe.

A similar myth is: “If the installer doesn’t touch the camera, calibration is not necessary.”

“You have to touch that camera, especially when it’s a mounted windshield,” Griffin says. Griffin says he can think of very few vehicles he might replace a windshield in that do not have mounted windshields.

He says to think of windshields as the lens of a camera. When the windshield is replaced, it may or may not be placed back within the vehicle manufacturer’s tolerances. Calibration can tell the installer if it is positioned correctly and avoid issues with the camera.

Griffin also uses prescription eyeglasses as an example. If an eyeglass prescription is changed, “you’re going to see things differently.” A vehicle’s camera will see differently through a new windshield until calibrated. Calibration sets the baseline data for a vehicle. No two pieces of glass will have the same clarity when installed, and calibration allows for
verification of the manufacturer’s tolerances “to make sure that system operates as designed.”

4 “Aftermarket parts are inferior to original equipment.” Griffin says that quality in ADAS parts “is luck at the draw.” An installer may or may not have problems with aftermarket parts.

Weller says that in his experience, maybe two out of every 100 calibrations will fail because of a problem with an aftermarket part. He says any glass manufacturer can have a flaw turn out in its product.

Weller has considered the pros and cons of aftermarket parts at various times in his career. “It happens. But it isn’t the problem people think it is,” Weller says.

5 “They’ll all eventually calibrate themselves.” Weller admits that he once believed this myth as a young installer. “And I was in that camp, I realized, because that’s what I was hoping.”

He knew that performing calibrations would mean expense and education to do them correctly, as well as subscriptions to OE information programs.

“You never stop learning,” Weller says. “It’s fluid and dynamic.”

Lintner says this myth is starting to abate, but no current vehicle system can calibrate itself. According to Linter once a sensor is disrupted in a vehicle, the vehicle cannot recalibrate on its own. “A lot of people were giving that information to consumers, including dealerships,” Lintner says.

6 “If a component doesn’t show a code, you don’t need to calibrate.” In fact, every OE position statement states that a calibration is required after a windshield replacement, tire replacement or rotation, front-end alignment, or replacement of struts, Weller says.

He has heard a dealer say if a code does not show, calibration is not necessary. Weller uses a tool called the adasThink , which identifies any required calibration after viewing a shop’s estimate for work on a vehicle.

A recent example at Zenith Auto, Weller says, was a Subaru which came in for calibration, and adasThink evaluated that two calibrations were necessary. The 2019 Subaru Outback requires a calibration performed when the vehicle is involved in a collision, no matter how minor or major the collision.

Calibration is “a laborious process,” Weller says, but a necessary one.

“That’s simply not true,” Lintner says of relying on codes and warning lights. A fault code does not exist if a camera is misaligned after a windshield replacement.

Calibration is about where the camera is pointed, according to Lintner. “It doesn’t know where to look. We have to calibrate it. We have to tell it where to look,” he says.

7 “I’ve been doing this for years, I’ve never had a problem.” Griffin’s reply to this myth is: “Are you an engineer?” Most installers are not engineers who understand the inner workings of vehicles and all that can go wrong. “To the best of my knowledge, I’m following [the manufacturer’s tolerances],” Griffin says of his course of action as an installer.

Calibration “may seem unnecessary,” but when the auto glass installer does not perform calibration, he is saying to the customer: “we’re going to gamble with your safety.”

Griffin founded his company in the metro area of Charlotte, N.C., to assist companies that do not have the tools and resources to perform calibrations. He saw that dealers did not calibrate and realized the potential for a company that only performs calibrations.

8 “It’s okay to do calibrations outside.” “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should,” Weller says. He points out that no OEM states that doing calibrations outside is okay and that they explain the proper lighting and environmental conditions required. For example, neutral colors are recommended to eliminate glare on the laser during calibration.

Weller says he sees technicians in YouTube videos doing calibrations with distractions in the background, such as racks and equipment. “That’s a lot of video noise that can affect the calibration process,” he says.

9 “Pre-scans are not necessary.” According to Griffin, pre-scans before installing a windshield are essential to determine if the vehicle already has a faulty part or something else has been compromised.

“That’s why pre-scans are so important because you need to know what kind of electronic shape that vehicle is in,” Griffin says.

10 “Nothing Else Affects Calibration.” Having the vehicle level on the ground during the calibration process, correct tire pressure, among other items, are necessary during calibrations. Weller says if the tire pressure is off, the calibration laser will not be in the correct location to do a proper calibration.

The Importance of Calibration

“It’s a no-brainer,” Griffin says of calibration. “It’s critical to your business.”

Information and knowledge about calibration is everywhere. Installers “can’t claim ignorance anymore,” he adds.

When calibration is not performed, “you’re gambling with your business and someone’s life.”

That’s why Griffin advises that installers keep a paper trail of windshield replacements. That paper trail will be essential if an installation company is sent to court because something happened later.

“Is not calibrating something worth your career and professional reputation and livelihood?” Griffin says.

After nearly 40 years in the business, Weller says he enjoys the auto glass industry now more than ever. He especially enjoys interacting with customers. Weller is fascinated by what cars can do and optimistic about the future.

However, calibration will continue to be more critical, not less important. He says shops that do five calibrations a month are the perfect candidates to seek out more information because more vehicles will need calibration in five years.

Weller also predicts that more brick and mortar buildings will be needed for calibrations to be performed, not mobile services.

According to Weller, if a technician is on the witness stand and asked where he performed a calibration, “If you say ‘in their driveway,’ you’re done.” Calibrations can be performed outside, but will they be accurate?

“This is the future, and if you don’t get on board with calibration, you’re going to die on the vine,” Weller says. Customers do not want to make separate appointments to have calibrations done, and customers are becoming more educated about its importance.

Rebecca J. Barnabi is a special projects manager for AGRR magazine. Connect with her on LinkedIn or email her at rbarnabi@glass.com