AA Motoring on the hidden costs of windscreen replacement and repairs
Autonomous driving and electric vehicles are considered by many to be factors influencing the future for cars on our roads, but we also know that manufacturers are constantly stepping up their game by packing out their latest models with future-thinking technologies designed to make life easier — and safer — for motorists.
If you’ve noticed extra items mounted around your rear view mirror area or extra shaded areas on the screen, your car may be equipped with Advanced Driver Assistance Systems — also known as ADAS. Such systems include Lane Departure Warning, Adaptive Cruise Control, Collision Avoidance and Autonomous Braking and at the heart of these technologies is your windscreen.
Like many parts of your car, your windscreen is becoming more advanced and complex.
ADAS systems operate through windscreens, using cameras, lasers or infrared beams, which are also combined with radar and sensors fitted around the vehicle.
ADAS guides or physically assists your driving but, if your windscreen is incorrectly fitted — even by just a few millimetres, these technologies may not work correctly. So, if your windscreen is ever broken, requires replacement, or needs to be removed for any reason, it’s important the installer knows what they are doing. Similarly, the operation of ADAS is also disrupted by dirty windscreens, obstructions and impaired vision due to foggy driving conditions. If this is the case and such factors are causing problems with the system’s functionalities, your vehicle will generally alert you with a flashing warning sign.
The cameras and lasers within your windscreen can generally be found in front of the rear view mirror or along the top of the windscreen. If a chip occurs where the cameras and lasers are, partial repairs cannot be completed and the windscreen will need to be replaced. On top of this, manufacturers also require calibrations to be completed so the ADAS system can still operate properly. In other words, it can be a costly procedure to fix compared to your usual windscreen repair or replacement, which is why some insurance companies won’t cover the cost of calibrations in their policies.
Companies that don’t cover the additional cost in relation to the calibration deem this to be an extra maintenance cost, which is then passed to the policy holder.
If you do have a car fitted with ADAS, it’s worth looking for insurance that does cover the cost for these recalibrations, as we all know how easy it is for a passing car to kick up a stone and accidentally fire it straight at your windscreen. Be aware though that policies covering these costs may cover you only if the repair work is carried out by the manufacturer’s dealerships.