New high-tech safety features on modern vehicles can be exciting, and convenient. But those added technological upgrades can cost you, even if it's a minor fender bender.

According to a new study from AAA, vehicles with advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), such as automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, and others, can cost twice as much to repair after a collision.

Even minor accidents that cause damage to ADAS technology found behind windshields, bumpers and door mirrors can add up to thousands of dollars in repairs.

With one in three Americans unable to afford an unexpected repair bill of just $500, AAA urges newer car customers to understand the potential cost of these repairs to advanced systems from an insurance perspective.

"Advanced safety systems are much more common today, with many coming as standard equipment, even on base models," said Michelle Donati, spokeswoman for AAA Alaska. "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."

Previous AAA testing shows that ADAS offers many safety benefits, however, damage affecting these systems may be inevitable.

AAA's study found that the repair bill for a minor front or rear collision on a car with ADAS can run as high as $5,300, almost two and a half times the repair cost for a vehicle without these systems.

An example is windshield damage, which is especially common with more than 14.5 million replacements annually. Replacing a windshield on a vehicle equipped with a camera behind the glass typically costs $1,500, which can be as much as three times the amount to replace the windshield on a car without the technology. Many safety systems rely on cameras that need recalibration when the glass is replaced, which adds to the cost.

"It is not unusual for windshields to get chipped or cracked," Donati said. "This may be an eyesore on a regular car, but when it falls in the line of sight of a camera or the driver, it becomes a safety issue that needs immediate attention by a facility qualified to work on these systems."

Many variables such as a vehicle make and model, the type and location of the sensor and where the work is performed can affect ADAS repair costs. AAA's research determined a range of prices listed below. Keep in mind these figures are for costs over and above the normal bodywork required following a collision.

  • Front radar sensors used with automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control systems: $900 to $1,300
  • Rear radar sensors used with blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert systems: $850 to $2,050
  • Front camera sensors used with automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and lane keeping systems (does not include the cost of a replacement windshield): $850 to $1,900
  • Front, side mirror or rear camera sensors used with around-view systems: $500 to $1,100
  • Front or rear ultrasonic sensors used with parking assist systems: $500 to $1,300

 

If ADAS repairs need to be made on a vehicle, there are some key factors to consider when selecting a place to get the car fixed. If the sensors of driver assistance systems need to be replaced, most mechanics can do the work. However, if the entire system needs to be restored and recalibrated, it requires special training and tools. AAA recommends consumers do their research and find a place that can not only do the job, but can provide proof of the work once complete.

Drivers can also review their insurance policy to ensure they have the appropriate coverage to cover the cost of repairs for any damage and that deductibles are manageable to minimize out-of-pocket expenses.

To do this study, AAA used three top-selling vehicle models: a small SUV, a medium sedan and a full-size pickup truck. To come up with mechanical labor costs, a national average customer-pay-rate was determined based on data from National Auto Body Research as well as AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities and rounded to the nearest whole dollar amount.

Labor rates do not include state or local taxes, shop supply fees or hazardous materials disposal charges.

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