New technology is pushing up repair costs

Posted on March 6th, 2015 by Rob Marshall

volvoWhile the press has been awash with new aspects and opinions about driverless cars, it seems to have been almost forgotten that many of today’s vehicles have a degree of autonomy anyway. In some cases, control is taken away from the human, albeit in an emergency situation.

Many modern cars are equipped with cameras, not necessarily to improve visibility for the driver, but to allow the car to ‘view’ its surroundings, which is vital for certain safety systems (such as autonomous braking, or distance-dependent cruise control) to work.

While I admire these clever systems, they are immensely sophisticated and the requirement for dedicated equipment, specialised training and the likelihood (for the time being) of dedicated parts being available only from the carmaker, is seeing repair costs escalate.

A colleague, who was unfortunate enough to suffer a cracked windscreen on his previous-generation, three years-old Volvo XC90, fell foul of this bewildering expense. A forward-facing camera, mounted in front of the rear view mirror, required recalibration, after a new screen was fitted. Yet, ignoring this need was not a sensible option, because the operation of a variety of safety and comfort equipment relied upon it, from the LED headlamps, speed limit display, wiper activation and other features.

The cost of recalibrating the camera alone totalled £400. Maybe advances, such as this, will spell the end for inexpensive repairs?