Expensive system sensors often need repairs and re-calibration after a collision

BOISE – (October 25, 2018) – It’s a common occurrence on U.S. roads every day – two vehicles get into a minor fender-bender from a rear-end collision or sideswipe. No one’s seriously hurt, and the cars are drivable, so after exchanging information, both drivers continue on their way.  But if they’re the owners of late-model vehicles with advanced driver assistance systems, they could be in for a much bigger repair bill than they’d bargained for, according to new research by AAA.

Advanced driver assistance systems (or ADAS) are the first step toward fully autonomous vehicles. Through an array of sensors, ADAS can ‘see’ the road and automate certain driving functions.  They can also warn drivers of hazardous road conditions that might lead to a crash.  But the technology is still in its infancy, and sensor replacement and calibration isn’t cheap – AAA’s study shows that properly repairing these systems can add three thousand dollars or more to a repair bill, not counting charges for replacing any other parts or fixing body damage.

The most common systems (automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, lane keeping assist, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert) are increasingly popular. Some form of ADAS is currently available on many new vehicles.

“Depending on the circumstances, even a small collision or simple maintenance like a wheel alignment can throw sensors off just enough that they might need to be repaired,” says Matthew Conde, public affairs director for AAA Idaho. “These sensitive instruments can help keep us safe, but by their very nature, they require plenty of care.”


Buyer Beware

AAA recommends that drivers take the following steps to keep ADAS technology working properly:

  • Understand what type of technology your vehicle has, how it works, and how much it would cost to repair it
  • Review your insurance policy to make sure your vehicle is properly covered to reduce out-of-pocket expenses
  • Select a repair shop that knows how to work on this type of technology
  • After a repair is complete, ask for proof that the safety systems have been properly repaired and re-calibrated


For this study, AAA evaluated three top-selling models in popular categories: the Nissan Rogue, the Toyota Camry, and the Ford F-150. Each vehicle selected was equipped with the highest available level of ADAS technology.

Estimated repair costs for damaged cameras and sensors are:

  • Front sensors for automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control – $900 to $1,300
  • Rear radar sensors for blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert – $850 to $2,050
  • Front camera sensors for automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and lane keeping – $850 to $1,900
  • Front, side mirror or rear camera sensors for around-view systems – $500 to $1,100
  • Front or rear ultrasonic sensors used with parking assist systems – $500 to $1,300
  • Windshield replacement for vehicles equipped with automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control and lane departure warning systems:
    • Aftermarket glass – $1,200 to $1,600
    • Factory glass – $1,300 to $1,650


“Always address vehicle damage right away,” Conde said. “The last thing you want is for a safety system to misread its environment and take inappropriate or even dangerous action.”