TECH BYTE: Car Tech Driving Up Repair Costs

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) — Cars are getting more high tech, between special safety features, and infotainment systems.

That means the cost of repairs is going up at the same time.

A recent study from AAA found that new technology in vehicles is driving up the cost of your repair bills – even in minor crashes.

AAA says the sensors in these safety features – like automatic emergency braking and rear view cameras – can cost more than twice as much to repair, compared to a car without them.

“If you think about the placement of these sensors, where they are, you could simply run into your mailbox. You could hit that mirror coming out of your garage. You could back into your wall in your garage, and you’re looking at a repair bill of even $3,000 to replace these sensors, and then also calibrate those sensors once they’re replaced,” said Stephanie Milani, AAA.

Chuck Miller, owner of Speedy’s East Ridge and Hixson Transmission and Total Car Care, says repair shops are having to catch up with the technology.

“You have to spend the money to buy the technology to be able to repair these cars and see what’s going on,” Miller said. “The new cars now have what they call the controlled area network, where all the modules talk together, and see what’s going on around the car. If you have one small problem with that one module, it can affect the whole car.”

Miller says the cost to fix this damage from a crash may cost drivers more money, but it’s not cheap for repair shops either.

“An average shop will spend $10,000 to $15,000 a year,” he said. “A major shop like ours will spend $50,000 to $60,000 per year just on technology, and that’s updating all the scan tools, buying new scan tools, actually buying the rights to the websites to be able to look up that kind of information.”

Before you buy a car with any advanced driver assistance systems, AAA says to check with your insurance company to see how much is covered in an accident, whether major or minor.

“Even though this technology is beneficial on a safety standpoint, you really want to make sure that you know how it works, but also on the consumer side, you want to make sure that you understand what your insurance policy covers, and make sure that your deductible, because these can be quite expensive to replace, make sure that your deductible works for your lifestyle,” Milani said.

It’s also important to know how your car works before you get out on the road.

“We do know that most of the crashes are caused by driver error, so this additional technology does help keep us safer on the roads, but it’s also important that drivers know the limits of the technology, and how it works, and that it’s not going to prevent all crashes,” Milani said.

Miller says there are pros and cons to this new technology.

The cars may be safer and last longer, but drivers still need to keep their eyes on the road, and not be distracted.

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