AAA: New Safety Tech Effectively Doubles Cost of Minor Repairs
Advanced safety tech may save your skin, but it certainly won’t spare your wallet in the event of a minor accident. According to research from the American Automobile Association, replacing and/or recalibrating the sensors needed to allow modern driving aids to function properly are severely inflating the cost of even minor repairs.
Unfortunate, considering features like blind spot monitoring and automatic emergency braking are cropping up as standard equipment on even the most affordable rides. Car ownership continues to get more expensive and there doesn’t seem to be much we can do about it — with one exception.
Once again, AAA wisely urges drivers to get a handle on their car’s technology before making a purchase and definitely before they crash it.
“Advanced safety systems are much more common today, with many coming as standard equipment, even on base models,” explained John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. “It’s critical that drivers understand what technology their vehicle has, how it performs and how much it could cost to repair should something happen.”
If you’re asking what’s the worst that could happen, don’t worry. AAA gave some pretty brutal examples. A broken front radar sensor, necessary for automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control, can tack on an additional $900 to $1,300 to your repair bill. Rear radar sensors used with blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert systems can tack on up to $2,050. Ultrasonic sensors used with parking assist systems can run you upwards of $1,300.
The list goes on. Busted parking cameras can set you back a grand apiece, but may set you back more if they’re used for lane monitoring, emergency braking, or adaptive cruise control. For the vehicles in AAA’s study, the repair bill for a minor front or rear collision on a car with a good amount of advanced driving aids would run as high as $5,300, almost two and half times the repair cost for a vehicle without these systems.
These aren’t the kind of repairs you want to cheap out on, either. Shoddy work or improper calibration can make these systems dangerously inaccurate, leaving someone who thought they could depend on the feature in danger of revisiting the repair shop after their adaptive cruise control fails and they rear-end someone on the highway.
The solution to all of this? Educate yourself. Figure out how the vehicle’s systems work and roughly how much repairs might set you back if something gets damaged. AAA also recommends drivers review their insurance policy routinely to ensure they have the appropriate coverage to cover the cost of repairs, and that deductibles are manageable to minimize out-of-pocket expenses.
A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.
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