Consumer experiences with crash avoidance feature repairs

Mueller, Alexandra S. / Cicchino, Jessica B. / Zuby, David S. / Calvanelli, Jr., Joseph V.
Journal of Safety Research
In press

Introduction: The popularity of crash avoidance features is growing, but so too is confusion around how to repair them, how much repairs should cost, and who should pay for those repairs. This study’s purpose was to capture how these issues are affecting consumers.
Method: Vehicle owners in the United States were surveyed online and by phone about their experiences repairing the front crash prevention (n = 359), blind spot detection (n = 317), and/or driver assistance cameras (n = 348) equipped on their personal vehicles.
Results: Owners tended to have multiple reasons for repairs. Repairs due to vehicle damage (i.e., a crash or windshield damage) corresponded with the greatest likelihood of post-repair issues, especially if calibration was performed, and higher out-of-pocket costs (possibly because of deductibles or other repair work). About half of respondents who had calibrations performed on features repaired because of vehicle damage reported persisting issues with the features after repair. Post-repair issues were more common for repairs performed at independent repairers than dealership service centers, yet similar feature calibration rates were reported for both types of repairers. More people went to dealership service centers than independent repairers, and these respondents were more likely to say they would return to this type of facility for a similar repair in the future. Although most repairers explained why repairs occurred, less than half of respondents said they completely understood the reasons given.
Conclusions: There are new complications in the repair cycle that are affecting consumers. Post-repair issues are more prevalent than previously assumed, regardless of the type of crash avoidance feature repaired. Practical applications: Post-repair issues risk undermining consumer acceptance and the safety potential of critical features. Affordable and accessible centralized databases with repair and calibration specifications and instructions from the manufacturers would be a start to addressing industry-wide challenges.