Q: Fancy advanced safety features on new cars are appealing. But do they have disadvantages?
A: A friend recently rearranged his Audi’s front bodywork during a relatively minor altercation with the rear end of another car—a crunched grille and bumper and broken headlights. Cost of repairs to his car? Just under $16,000 and three weeks in the shop.
A large portion of the cost involved repairs to the sensors for the so-called advanced driver-assistance systems. These features are finding their way into more and more cars to provide such functions as forward automatic emergency braking, forward-collision warning, adaptive cruise control, and lane-departure warning. But a new AAA study noted that the cost to repair minor collisions can be twice as much for vehicles that have these systems.
What’s the deal? Well, cameras, radar, and ultrasonic sensors are expensive. Replacing a cracked windshield that incorporates a camera for lane-keeping assist can cost $1,500, or about three times the usual cost of windshield replacement. Moreover, the systems need calibration, which requires additional training and tools, and, of course, extra labor hours.