Fighting to Befriend My ADAS Features

by Kevin Gallerani, AASP/MA President

For 13 years, I drove the same truck, but a few months ago, I started driving a new truck, complete with every ADAS feature you could dream of – and maybe some you’ve never even heard of, or at least I hadn’t.

When I ordered it a year and a half ago, I requested all the bells and whistles – I wanted it to be fully loaded with all the newest technology so I could really get acquainted with all the ADAS features that we fix every day in our shops, so I could really understand how it’s supposed to work since we’ve got to repair these things. But because of all the delays on parts and supplies, GMC was unable to manufacture the ADAS, sensors and self-driving electronics for a while, so I waited not-so-patiently until it arrived. And I was excited to try out my new toy. I mean, obviously, I was going to be fully on board with the whole deal, right?

Wrong! Since I started driving my new truck, I’ve learned a few things about myself as a driver. For example, I’m a bit of a road-hog. Anyone who’s driven roads around here knows that you’ve got to get creative to avoid potholes, so I’m a big fan of driving down the middle of the road when it’s open to save my tires, but doing that means crossing the yellow line. No big deal in a 13-year-old truck, but in my new one? Big no-no! Every time I ease into the center of the road, this truck yells at me – the seat vibrates, the steering wheel lights up, my windshield flashes a warning to get out of the middle of the road…The steering wheel even tries to fight me to pull me back into the lane, like I don’t know what I’m intentionally doing. 

So for the first month, all this crap was driving me nuts. I’ve been wondering what the heck I got myself into because it’s just annoying the heck out of me! But when I go on the highway, this thing literally drives itself. Like I can just sit back and relax while it maintains a safe distance behind other cars and just chauffeurs me to my destination, so I love that part of it. And I’m getting used to coloring within the lines because I want to make friends with my new truck instead of continuing to fight it. 

But it also got me thinking. We’ve been repairing vehicles that contain complex ADAS for years now, but how many of us actually know exactly what those systems are supposed to do, how they’re intended to perform? A lot of us are still driving the same vehicles we’ve driven for years because we don’t want to deal with today’s technology, but the truth of the matter is that we have to adapt to it because it’s not going away. It’s going to keep coming, and in the future, cars are going to be even more restrictive as these systems try to make driving safer for everyone. Twenty years ago, we couldn’t have imagined what today’s cars would do, so just envision what vehicles are going to be like in another couple decades!

As repairers, we have to be able to take all the proper measures to fix these vehicles properly, and I’m finding that it’s really helpful to drive a technologically advanced truck myself. I’m learning more and more about how it’s supposed to operate, which gives me a much better idea of what my customers mean when they call in and say, “My car isn’t responding the way it used to.” The more we know, the easier it’ll be to figure out what our customers are looking for. We’ll have a clearer picture of what should be happening when we test drive their cars, which will help us know if we repaired them correctly. 

The future is coming, whether we like it or not, so instead of fighting ADAS and advanced technology, maybe it’s time to befriend it and accept what’s coming down the pike. It’s here to help us and make life easier if we just let it. It’s also why you can’t miss AASP/MA’s “Breaking Free In ‘23- Part III” on October 21 which will feature an ADAS segment presented by Ed Rachwal of Designer Office Systems. See page 10 for details! 

Want more? Check out the October 2023 issue of New England Automotive Report!