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Helping to see straight

By autotech-nath on April 28, 2024

With wheel alignment being such a useful profit earner for you and a vital safety and money saver for drivers, Rob Marshall looks at what help is available for you to facilitate an accurate diagnosis.

ADAS is fitted even to bargain-basement cars. Even the latest Dacia Duster comes with a suite of driver assistance equipment. As correct thrust angle is vital to completing a successful ADAS alignment, the importance of accurate wheel geometry cannot be underemphasised.

Like many practically-based trades, skills shortage remains a major concern within the aftermarket. The IMI, for instance, estimates that almost half the cars on UK roads will boast Level 2 autonomous features by 2030. Yet, even today, we have a deficit of around 18,000 technicians to meet just today’s ADAS. It is a sobering analysis. Therefore, should your skillset be ADAS deficient, upping your game in this area is a good future investment.

The traditional values…

Obviously, wheel geometry is not all about ADAS. As clever as they might be, modern cars are not immune to incompetent drivers bouncing them off kerbs, or cash-starved local authorities being unable to fill in potholes on either side of Halley’s Comet sightings.

Hella reminds us that an advanced alignment system can help with identifying suspension and chassis defects.

The only sure way to identify which ADAS features are fitted to the vehicle, on which you are working, is to perform a full global diagnostic scan.

Issues are caused not just by poor roads and impact damage but also general wear and tear. Camber variation indicates potential wear, or issues with the suspension components. A caster imbalance might suggest steering component damage. Toe misalignment, meanwhile, causes uneven tyre wear and handling issues. When it comes to identifying chassis defects, Hella highlights that analysing the thrust angle reveals deviation with the rear axle. This could be very serious, because any wheelbase discrepancy would suggest chassis distortion, the cause of which could be crash damage.

ISN adds that conducting four-wheel alignment will flag if the suspension geometry is out of tolerance,
by referencing the OE information. By comparing the measured result with the camber, toe and caster data provided, you can identify which components are to blame. Straightset reminds us that owners may not even be aware that their car’s geometry is incorrect. One reason for this might be that the change is gradual, hence why an MOT, or service report, which highlights excessive/uneven tyre wear might be the first time a problem is brought to the vehicle owner’s attention.

Training support…

As ADAS calibration should be considered as an extension of wheel alignment, it is logical that discussions and even training on both topics should run together. Yet, ISN reasons that garages should not purchase the latest equipment and rely solely on detailed product demonstrations to replace technician training. To comply with insurance industry requirements (IRR), workshops have to have the capability to understand and calibrate all of the ADAS cameras and sensors fitted to a vehicle – and that means having a registered IMI qualification.

To help, Hella has opened an Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) approved training facility, HELLA Academy in Chipping Warden, Banbury. This facility blends both classroom-based theory with practical training within a state-of-the-art workshop. Hella offers two IMI-accredited Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) courses. The ADAS IMI AOM 230 module provides technicians with the insurance approval needed to work on ADAS-equipped vehicles, while its ADAS Level 2 Award covers calibration, vehicle alignment and workshop requirements.


A Straightset makeover: How they did it…

At the beginning of last year, Straightset was commissioned by Toyota GB to overhaul a 45-year-old workshop in Helensburgh, Dumbarton. Aside from the dated looks, Straightset noticed poor use of space, uneven floors and tired staff facilities. The task was neither quick, nor easy. The workshop had to close for four months, while the floors were replaced and two different levels merged into one.

Straightset facilitated all of the essential workshop upgrades. These included seven new ramps, a connected MOT setup, and a specialised two-post ramp, designed for the more hefty BEVs. A drive- through wheel alignment checker promises quick alignment checks for every incoming vehicle, seen as vital to boost alignment service sales. The compressor and oil tanks were also relocated to optimise space and create a less cluttered atmosphere. The new workshop opened on 13th December.


Not all ADAS hardware is calibrated via the EOBD port – this LiDAR unit is aligned physically.

Decisions decisions: Diagnostic equipment offerings…
Understandably, wheel alignment and ADAS investment is considerable and garage owners will need to consider carefully what offerings best suit their needs. Hella Gutmann Solutions, for instance, has a partnership with the wheel geometry specialists, Pro Align, which offers a full range of Hunter equipment. For ADAS, Hella Gutmann’s latest CSC- Tool Digital is used with the company’s mega macs diagnostic offering to calibrate front ADAS cameras and sensors. Its main advantages include optimum flexibility for technicians and its packaging is ideal for workshops with limited space. Calibration targets are displayed on an integrated 200cm screen and workshops simply download panels directly from the CSC-Tool Digital App. The equipment is also modular, facilitating the calibration of rear-view and 360° cameras, while radar sensor calibration kits provide further flexibility for vehicle-specific systems. A typical example of this is laser sensor calibration on the latest Audi range.

ISN reports that its Garage Assist wheel alignment range is ‘vast’ and includes both CCD and 3D alignment. It reasons that, because both technologies are accurate and efficient, garages can choose, based on their personal preferences. Furthermore, CCD equipment is ideal for workshops with restricted space and two-post lifts, while 3D alignment requires a dedicated alignment lift, of the four-post, or scissor types. ISN also highlights its wireless-connected tablet operation, which permits complete portability around a vehicle. It also testifies that alignment data is no longer batched together every few months but is now updated continuously. For garages that own older, unconnected Hofmann Megaplan, or Balco, wheel alignment equipment that was purchased through ISN Garage Assist, ISN reminds these customers not to worry; its remote assistance service is just a telephone call away.

Hella advises how vital it is that independent workshops are aware of how widespread ADAS is and how such systems are already affecting the jobs that they undertake daily.

You are not alone with training. Pictured is Straightset’s dedicated 3,000-square-foot Wheel Alignment Training studio in Nottinghamshire.

Straightset prides itself on its flexible range of wheel geometry systems, whether that be a Beissbarth, or HAP- Faip machine. Straightset is also the UK manufacturer of Supertracker alignment machines, including the popular STR1 hang-on laser model, in addition to the STR130 six-sensor and STR420 eight-sensor computerised systems. The CEMB Argos innovation is also available for garages prioritising a touchless facility.

Drivers switch off ADAS but should you?

In their report, ‘Vehicle safety systems and the future of driving’, the Brake road safety organisation and AXA Insurance found that 41% of drivers are switching off certain ADAS features, where they can. The reasons given are because they find them annoying and they do not believe that they make them safer.

Indeed, ADAS features are far from perfect. Even motoring journalists report instances of Lane Assist technology (for instance) not working correctly, especially in the countryside. This causes the system to apply a ‘corrective’ force to the steering wheel, which, at best, is unwanted and, at worst, dangerous.

AT asked AXA if deactivating such features would invalidate a driver’s motor insurance policy and was told that it would not. Interestingly, the forthcoming Renault 5 E-Tech BEV permits drivers to deactivate certain ADAS functions, should they prefer. However, does this mean that garages and technicians should take ADAS calibration less seriously?

Hella says emphatically not. It reminds us that Insurance Industry Requirements (IIR) require ADAS inspection, realignment and calibration to be considered by technicians. Regardless of whether drivers choose to switch these systems off, or not, it remains the workshop’s responsibility to ensure that these
systems are functioning correctly following the repair, service or maintenance of any parts that affect ADAS functionality, or vehicle geometry. ISN explains that insurance companies focus on ADAS functionality, when investigating claims. Should ADAS misalignment be deemed a contributing factor in an accident, it raises the question, who is to blame? ISN asks how can a technician undertake a repair that might affect ADAS functionality if neither the equipment nor the capability is available to check and adjust it?

Straightset summarises that if the manufacturer has fitted any ADAS devices, they still need to be kept calibrated and in full working order.



About Autotechnician
Autotechnician is a magazine published nine times a year, delivering essential information to independent garage owners and technicians in the UK. Delivered both digitally and in print, autotechnician provides readers with technical, training, business advice, product and news, allowing our readers to keep up to date with information they need to run and work within a modern workshop.
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