LAS VEGAS — Every decade or so the automotive aftermarket must learn and become proficient in servicing a game-changing vehicle technology.
Today, the sea change comes in the form of collision-avoidance systems known collectively as Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS).
"Disc brakes. TPMS. ADAS. We got through the first two, we'll get through this one," Chris Chesney, senior director of customer training at Advance Auto Parts, said during a panel discussion at the recent AAPEX in Las Vegas.
It's only a matter of time before independent auto repair shops and tire dealerships have to deal with ADAS as nearly all newer vehicles are equipped with at least one ADAS feature, he said, whether it's collision braking, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assistance, blind spot monitoring, etc.
- This article appears in the Dec. 9 print edition of Tire Business.
The systems only operate correctly if the sensors and cameras are calibrated and aligned correctly. A collision or part replacement could jar the sensor or camera out of alignment and that effect may not be noticed until the driver complains of a malfunction.
"One of the problems we face right now, with everyone in every shop, is that every technician out there needs to know (about ADAS), even if they're not working on this technology," David Milne, president of the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) Training Managers Council, said during the panel discussion.
"They need to know how the things they are doing on that car can affect the performance of these systems. Very simple procedures can end up affecting that right now. There are so many folks that don't recognize that.
"As an industry we need to focus immediately on making everyone aware what kind of ramifications their actions have (on ADAS)," he said.
While auto repair shops may not work on ADAS now, they should start educating themselves on the systems so they can be a credible source for their customers, who likewise may not be familiar with ADAS or how the various systems work, according to the panel.
Independent repair shops can attract customers away from car dealerships by establishing themselves as authorities on ADAS and sources for customers to learn about how their vehicles' systems work.
"That will establish a higher level of credibility. You'll become a trusted source," said panelist Scott Brown, president of Diagnostic Network, who suggested shops offer training and seminars for customers
Frank Leutz, COO of Desert Car Care Center in Chandler, Ariz., and host of Wrench Nation Car Talk Radio, echoed that battle cry.
He suggested shops can start explaining ADAS to their customers at the front counter, in emails and on their websites and social media platforms.
"We may not have the big budgets, but we do have the time to think about that creatively because we don't need them to go to the dealerships," he said.
Mr. Leutz also encouraged shops to promote the "Your Car. Your Data. Your Choice." campaign launched by the Auto Care Association and the Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association to educate the public about the amount of data their cars collect and who has access to it (see story below).
"People will question that and that's an open engagement to conversation that should be ADAS," he said. "And what does that do in the end? It makes us the expert. It makes us the concierge."