By Karl Kirschenman, ALLDATA Collision Product Manager
The collision industry amazes me. Mostly in a good way. Today’s
rapidly changing technologies keep things interesting. New
materials, such as ultra high strength steel, plastics,
composites and other materials offer up challenges we didn’t have
to deal with in “the good old days.”
But perhaps the most challenging aspect of repairing newer
vehicles remains the ever-increasing use of electronic systems.
We no longer see “cars” in the shop, we see rolling computers.
It’s hard to keep up, but we must! A repair done wrong can be
hazardous to the driver, his passengers and those sharing the
road. And let’s not even mention the liability issues involved of
a repair not performed to OEM standards.
Has the collision business really changed all that much? Every
day, I meet someone in a shop who says, “We are not having any
issues with newer vehicles.”
My next question is usually, “Well, how do you know how to repair
them properly so that the family you put back in that car is safe
and the vehicle will perform correctly? The response is often one
I was hoping NOT to hear, ”My technicians are the best.
We’ve been doing it this way for 30 years and we know how to fix
Like I said, this industry amazes me. So what’s changed in the
last 30 years from a technology standpoint:
Downloadable music has replaced CDs, which replaced cassette
tapes, which replaced 8-Track cartridges.
Streaming video, DVRs and DVDs replaced VHS and Betamax (new
on the market 30 years back).
Thirty years ago, Radio Shack had the hottest computer system
on the market… The TRS 80. And IBM marketed a personal
computer with a 10Mb hard drive and 128Kb of RAM.
And let’s not forget portable TVs with telescoping antennas.
Yeah those early 80s were crazy years. There are many more
examples of emerging technologies, but you get the picture.
Vehicles from 30 years ago did not include dozens and dozens of
control modules and sensors monitoring, regulating and directing
everything. They did not have side-impact air bags or onboard
navigation. They did not have collision-avoidance or hands-free
parking systems. They did not have blind spot sensors, adaptive
cruise control or lane departure warning systems. How about ABS,
TPMS, ESC and all those other initials? Nope!
The only way to properly and safely repair vehicles today is by
referencing OEM information. As one shop owner has said,
“Without it, you’re flying blind!”
Here are two specific examples of new technologies that
30-year-old experience can’t fix without up-to-date
manufacturers’ information. These brief excerpts from OEM-issued
information have been edited for the purpose of this article.
Certain 2013 Chrysler®
Vehicles Indicator for the Blind Spot Monitor is Flashing or on
The blind spot monitor indicator in either outside mirror may be
flashing or on continuously. On further inspection the technician
will Not find any DTC’s.
Using a scan tool, verify no Blind Spot Monitor DTC’s are
NOTE: Install a battery charger to ensure
battery voltage does not drop below 13.2 volts. Do not allow the
charging voltage to climb above 13.5 volts during the flash
NOTE: If this flash process is
interrupted/aborted, the flash should be restarted.
Using a scan tool, check the part number of the LBSS and
Does the part number end with AB?
Yes – Proceed to Step # 3.
No – This bulletin doesn’t pertain, normal diagnostic
should be performed.
Flash reprogram the LBSS and RBSS.
Certain 2013 – 2014 Subaru®
Event Data Recorder (EDR) Function of Airbag Module
This vehicle is equipped with an event data recorder (EDR). The
main purpose of an EDR is to record, in certain crash or near
crash-like situations such as an airbag deployment or hitting a
road obstacle, data that will assist in the understanding how a
vehicle’s systems performed. The EDR is designed to record data
related to vehicle dynamics and safety systems for a short period
of time, typically 30 seconds or less. The EDR in this vehicle is
designed to record such data as:
How various systems in your vehicle were operating;
Whether or not the driver and passenger safety belts were
How far (if at all) the driver was depressing the accelerator
and/or brake pedal;
How fast the vehicle was traveling.
This data can help provide a better understanding of the
circumstances in which crashes and injuries
NOTE: This repair/service information is
excerpted from information published by the vehicle manufacturer,
and intended for the purpose of promoting OE collision repair
information to trained, professional technicians with the
knowledge, tools and equipment to do the job properly and safely.
Before attempting any repairs described, refer to the complete
article in ALLDATA Collision S3500. It is recommended that these
procedures not be performed by “do-it-yourselfers.”
Karl Kirschenman, ALLDATA Collision Product Manager, holds a
Bachelor of Science degree in communication. He has over 10 years
of experience in the collision industry.