Cars & Tech: Useful But Expensive

About a million new safety feature that comes out each year all promising to keep you safer on the road. While it’s true that most safety features help, the cost of maintaining combined with the labor time make the features a double-edged sword. The new technology for vehicles is useful but expensive.

Very Promising Future

Many of the newest collision-avoidance features, such as early braking and lane changing detectors, rely on cameras and ultrasonic sensors. When functioning correctly, these features make roadways safer for everyone. In fact, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety of General Motors vehicles found that vehicle’s with collision warning and braking systems reported 43% less front/rear collisions.

Additionally, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety estimates safety technology could help avoid over 2 million crashes and reduced death and injury rates. Although those numbers are impressive, they reflect a change that would only come if every car had the features.

Arm & A Leg

Safety is certainly a priority for most everyone, but the price of safety often leaves us second guessing the necessity. You may ask yourself, “do I really need lane changing assistance, early braking or collision sensors?” Yet the question you should be asking is “can I afford to maintain these features.”

The process for maintaining or repairing sensors and cameras is costly and time-consuming. For example, sensors and cameras are on the windshield, which means a chip or crack can interfere with the system. The estimated replacement is about $1600. Similarly, a small bump or scrap can offset or damage sensors on the front and rear bumpers or side mirror. The estimated cost for repairing that is about $2000.

Time Is Money

So, it’s clear to see that these safety features are expensive to repair, but it does not end there. The time it takes to recalibrate sensors and cameras is surprisingly long and may require test drives. Some mechanics and other shop workers have noted the extra work needed for repairs that were once considered basic.

A simple windshield replacement used to be a few minutes but with new sensors and cameras, it’s much longer. In fact, recalibrating lane sensing technology may require 25 miles on clear roads with good weather.

Take Home Message

This post was not made to dunk on new technology that is clearly helping. On the other hand, some features seem unnecessary. The best thing you can do before buying a vehicle with safety features is to get an estimate for repairs. Additionally, it may be wise to consult your auto insurance agency. Ask if the features may qualify you for a discount and if your insurance covers you if the technology fails.

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