Advanced Driver Assistance Systems Cost More to Buy, Insure, and Repair

  • Christian Wardlaw has 25 years of experience serving in automotive editorial leadership roles with Autobytel, Edmunds, J.D. Power, and Tribune Publishing. A married father of four, Chris is based in the Los Angeles suburbs and believes fuel cell electric vehicles will power the future.

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My family’s car has modern driver assistance and collision avoidance systems, powered in part by a camera mounted high and behind the windshield. Recently, after a truck flung a rock into the windshield, we needed to replace it.

After paying a $250 insurance deductible, our American Automobile Association (AAA) policy covered the replacement cost of the glass, and it wasn’t cheap. According to AAA data, windshields for vehicles equipped with advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) technology can cost about $1,500.

Initially, our Safelite repair shop planned to replace the windshield with an aftermarket component. But, once they got our original part off of the vehicle, they realized the replacement was incompatible with our ADAS technology. That meant they had to order another windshield from the manufacturer, one that cost more.

We were on the hook only for the deductible, so this didn’t concern me. But it should concern AAA, and evidently does because they’ve published research pertaining to the rising costs of repairing vehicles with ADAS.

ADAS Costs More to Fix…and to Insure

Honda Civic Lane Watch Mirror Camera
A damaged camera sensor, like this Honda Lane Watch camera on the outer edge of a Honda Civic’s passenger-side mirror, can cost a minimum of $500 extra to repair if it gets damaged compared to a Civic without Lane Watch. (Honda)
 

Modern ADAS operate using various sensors, cameras, and radar units. These are typically mounted in locations that make them vulnerable in collisions – even minor ones. For example, a Honda Civic equipped with Lane Watch uses a camera mounted on the right side-view mirror. If that mirror hits something (or is hit by something), that camera’s presence makes replacing the mirror a far costlier proposition.

Based on AAA’s research, this is what some ADAS components cost to replace, above and beyond any bodywork repairs:

  • $500 to $1,300: Parking sensors embedded into the front and/or rear bumpers
  • $500 to $1,100: Camera sensors that look forward, to the rear, to the side, and in surround-view mode
  • $850 to $1,900: Camera sensors for adaptive cruise control and automatic emergency braking systems
  • $850 to $2,050: Radar sensors for blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert
  • $900 to $1,300: Radar sensors for adaptive cruise control and automatic emergency braking systems
  • $1,500: Factory-approved windshield

Naturally, your next question is whether or not your insurance company charges you more for a car with these technologies. The answer, apparently, is yes.

In an interview with Car and Driver last fall, AAA public affairs manager John Paul told the publication that the costs for repairing vehicles with ADAS technology are “baked in.” He explained that until real-world data proves that these systems reduce collisions, insurance companies must base policy rates on what it will cost to fix the vehicle.

Better to Have ADAS Than Not

Volvo XC90 Cyclist Detection System
Some vehicles have ADAS that can detect cyclists and automatically apply the brakes, and some have ADAS that cannot. It is important to understand what limitations the ADAS on your specific vehicle might have. (Volvo)
 

Despite the potential for added insurance costs, the benefits of ADAS outweigh the additional expense. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, if every vehicle had such technologies and drivers used them properly, there would be 2.7 million fewer crashes, 1.1 million fewer injuries, and 9,500 fewer deaths each year.

If your car has ADAS technology, AAA recommends the following:

Understand how the systems work

Does your car have adaptive cruise control? Is it the kind that brings the car to a complete stop in traffic, or not? You need to know this before using it, or you’ll end up crashing into the back of another vehicle. Read your owner’s manual, watch video explainers from the company that built your car, or go to the dealership where you bought it to gain the necessary understanding.

Carry the proper level of insurance

According to AAA, the average cost to repair minor front or rear collision damage on a vehicle with ADAS is $5,300. That’s more than double the average for a vehicle without ADAS. Be sure your policy offers enough coverage, and that it specifically covers ADAS repair. Also, set the deductible at a value you can afford.

Get repairs where ADAS calibration specialists work

When repairing your damaged vehicle, the ADAS systems require recalibration, and this takes specialized tools and knowledge. If the repair shop doesn’t have this capability, you need to take the vehicle elsewhere.

The shop we chose for our own windshield repair had the proper technicians on staff to recalibrate the ADAS. However, while we waited for the replacement glass to arrive from the automaker, Safelite installed the aftermarket windshield for us to use until our next appointment.

For almost a week, this incorrect windshield disabled our SUV’s ADAS technologies. A warning showed on the driver information system each time we started the vehicle. This made my wife and I feel less safe, and also reminded us that these features were unavailable to help reduce the potential for a collision.

We bought our vehicle specifically for its safety systems and crash-test ratings, so once the factory windshield back in place and the ADAS properly recalibrated, we felt much better.

Our insurance might be higher, but to us, the peace of mind is worth it.


About the Author

  • Christian Wardlaw has 25 years of experience serving in automotive editorial leadership roles with Autobytel, Edmunds, J.D. Power, and Tribune Publishing. A married father of four, Chris is based in the Los Angeles suburbs and believes fuel cell electric vehicles will power the future.

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