ADAS Systems – More Trouble Than They Are Worth?

Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), are accessories developed to automate/adapt/enhance vehicles for improved safety and better driving.

ADAS comes in many forms/features designed to minimise collisions by assisting/alerting the driver to potential problems. For example, ADAS may deploy safeguards by taking over control of the vehicle, to reduce the chance of a collision.

Advanced Driver Assist System Computer

ADAS Computer/Camera Mazda 3

Adaptive features may automate lighting, provide cruise control, incorporate GPS/ traffic warnings, lane departure camera, alert driver to other vehicles or dangers through blind spot alert, etc.

ADAS is not new technology, its been around for years in many forms, however, it has for the most part been reserved for the more expensive prestige vehicle market.

There is no doubt about it, ADAS has some handy features that could potentially be of value for professional drivers. Taxi’s, Transport, Couriers, Sales Reps and anyone who spends most of their day in a vehicle, could benefit from this technology.

Like most technologies, over time they become more affordable and as a result are made available to the masses. Just as the humble reversing cameras has become pretty standard these days, so have more complex systems. So much so that it’s not uncommon to find ADAS systems on vehicles with a retail price of $30k. Mazda and Honda are two brands that are including basic systems on many of their low end models. This is good news, right? All that technology that was once reserved for high end models, now coming standard on the average family sedan has to be good news.

Well, perhaps not. When you purchase your new ADAS equipped vehicle, the sales rep is unlikely to inform you of the potential costs going forward. For example, ADAS systems are mounted to the vehicles windscreen, the most fragile part of the vehicles outer shell. With this in mind, its likely over time you will require a windscreen replacement or two, so when thinking of a new vehicle purchase, it’s a sensible idea to calculate the future running costs too.

A standard windscreen replacement for a Mazda 3 using generic glass (No ADAS) would cost approx $400/500 Australia at the time of this writing. However, the same genuine windscreen with an ADAS mounting system on the glass could cost as much as $2.5k. This includes a re-calibration of the computer system, which apparently takes an additional 4 hours on top of the windscreen installation.

So why not install a generic ADAS windscreen, would this not be a cheaper solution? The reason you must not install generic glass into a vehicle that is equipped with an ADAS system is that the manufacturer will void the ADAS warranty. Void, no exceptions.

ADAS Camera Mazda 3We are informed by the Australian dealers that due to differences in glass clarity, quality and fit. Generic windscreens can render an ADAS system to be more sensitive, or less sensitive than the original glass. This has the potential to make the system unstable.

This is not to say the system will fail. We know there are national organisations installing generic glass into these vehicles as we speak and the systems appear to be operational. However, if you choose this path, you need to understand you are on your own with no support for the manufacturer. We have no objection to this practise as long as the customer is informed of the possible consequences of the dealers void warranty.

Now for those of you who are thinking, no problem, we have insurance. We will have the insurance group pay for the genuine windscreen. Think again, it’s a little more complicated than that.

Insurance groups have deals/contracts with windscreen repairers to keep their costs under control, they call these repairers “recommended repairers” or “selected repairers”.

It’s important to point out that a “recommended repairer” works for the insurance group, not you. So if an insurance group instructs a recommended repairer to install a generic glass into a vehicle, the recommended repairer does as they are told, or they get their work supply cut off.

At the time of this writing there are nation networks installing generic windscreens equipped with ADAS and not informing the insurance policy holder they have done so. This means if you have a problem with your ADAS system, your manufactures warranty will be void. Worse still, if the system malfunctions and results in a collision, or injury, who will be liable? The manufacturer? The insurance group? The windscreen company? You?

This may all seem like allot of what ifs and maybes, however the risk is very real and problems are likely, if not so already. We are in a transition period were vehicles are adopting technology at a rate faster than it is able to be thoroughly tested in the public domain. Like most computer systems and smart technology, it is rolled out in beta phase to be tested live by the public, just like your new phone. This is when the system is really put to the test and patches and firmware upgrades soon follow as problems arise.

Another disadvantage of too much unnecessary technology is it’s outdated quickly, especially in vehicles. When a vehicle is the design phase years before production what is current then, may not be current when it is built. By the time the vehicle is on the production line its computer technology such as Sat Nav, Stereo, and ADAS systems are already several years old and out of date. When the vehicle is more than 5 years old and ready to be resold, customers are hesitant to purchase a vehicle with outdated technology that is no longer supported and expensive to repair.

Think about it, how many times have you got in a vehicle that has a inbuilt clunky grainy screen and old Sat Nav. Worse still, the dealer wants $500 every time you require a system update. Much better to use your Smartphone on a dock/dash mount. Google Maps work much better, faster and is always up to date. Better still, it comes at everyones favourite price, free.

Personally, we much prefer simple, reliable technology, especially on vehicles. We like to put the key in the ignition, rather than press the button, it just limits the amount of potential problems. Unnecessary electronics fail often and are expensive to repair, this we all know too well from experience.

Whilst we still believe there are benefits to ADAS, we think it would be better for the system be mounted to the vehicle body, roof, manufactures badge on the front, but absolutely not the windscreen.


Mazda 3 Windscreen

Mazda 3 Windscreen DOT 23)

So in summery our advice would be to purchase one of these vehicles only if you have the capital to maintain it going forward.

Don’t fall victim to your insurance group having a recommended repairer install a generic glass and therefor forfeiting your vehicles warranty.

Check the original glasses standards mark and take photo. If the replacement glass does not match, then demand an explanation. It’s an illegal practice to not have full disclosure from your insurance group and simply unethical to install parts that could put you and your passengers at risk.

Windscreens are labeled with DOT numbers (Department Of Transport) to identify its manufacturer and country of origin. You can perform a Google search for DOT numbers and see if your glass matches the old one. This is how you know if your glass in generic of not. See if your glass matches the others in your vehicle.

The image contains a glass we installed recently for a Mazda 3. We used a Genuine Part and the DOT number was DOT 23. (NIPPON SHEET GLASS CO. LTD. OSAKA, JAPAN).

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