The wallet has closed.
Grocery prices have risen more than 11.4%, according to the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Energy prices are up 15.8%. Fuel, consumer goods, …well, you get the picture. We are all living this movie.
The dollar does not travel as far as it used to in the day-to-day world of the average buyer, and that monetary value flows over to business operations. Like all things, the dollar does not stretch too far when it comes to auto shop infrastructure. This includes investments in today's automotive diagnostic-repair technology.
More and more I am hearing shops, mobile technicians — seeing evidence — crossing over copyright, trademark and patent laws by reconstructing advance driver assistance system (ADAS) targets, stands and cones.
Homemade targets from the Xerox machine; paper taped together to make a complete checkerboard pattern required by year/make/model (YMM). Mock stands with the same dimensions as the original product but made from PCV tubing. I even had technicians — yes, more than one occasion — tell me that their counterfeit tools are the same as the original product.
Well, they are not.
I know. Technicians are exceptionally talented, some inventing devices to make their lives easier in the day-to-day bay. But there are some items that are best left to the industrial CNC shop.
At this point in time, static calibration components are best when produced by the manufacturer. Keep in mind, we are talking about calibration/recalibration standards within 1 degree. Just 1. And if a stand is not square, the target marks are not exactly per manufacture specs, a couple of things can happen during the process: no calibration/recalibration or inaccurate calibration/recalibration.
The inability to calibrate/recalibrate is not an issue. No harm, no foul. It is when the vehicle accepts the bogus apparatus, target as a true base — because it is almost within OE range — is when someone could get hurt; property damaged. Worse yet: someone could perish due to a professional cutting corners.
There are many manufacturers of ADAS equipment on the market. My advice? Shop around.
You do not need to purchase the complete set-up at once. Research and determine which components will complement your customer-base service needs. Budget for remaining pieces to grow your arsenal of ADAS targets and supporting equipment.
Because one day — and the law of averages will prevail — you will find yourself sitting in a courtroom. On the witness stand describing how you reproduced a patent-copyright component, performed a calibration/recalibration on the plaintiff's vehicle and try to explain your way out of that vehicle accident. Injury or death.
It is not worth the price.
And another bonus for those who are calibrating/recalibrating properly: prove your proficiency, get certified. Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) now has the practice test available online for those getting ready to prove their expertise through accreditation.
The docs are available online.
And if you are looking to certify or recertify other, ASE standards, there are free testing examples at: asepractice.com.
Meanwhile, keep watch for the pending, any-day-now L4-ADAS exam launch. Remember, to be eligible to take the 40-question test, you must have either an ASE-A6 (electrical) or ASE-B5 (electrical/mechanical) certificate.