Last year my wife and I needed a new car, after much consideration, we landed on the Honda CRV. Since buying the car it’s done an exceptional job of servicing our needs as a family.
A couple of weeks ago we got a crack in the windscreen. After confirming we had a free windscreen replacement under our car insurance with Allianz, we booked in the vehicle with O’Brien AutoGlass in Albury, for replacement.
One of the things that drew us to the Honda CRV was the technology assists that make driving easier, like Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS), Adaptive Cruise Control etc, collectively known as ADAS.
ADAS stands for Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems, now common in many vehicles, so this could happen to you.
O’Brien AutoGlass (previously Windscreens O’Brien) list ‘ADAS Windscreen Calibration’ as a service they offer on their website. We were told they actually need to take the car to the local Honda service centre to have this completed. Located just half a block away, this didn’t seem like a problem. At least not initially.
After picking the car up on Wednesday 26th of June, the windscreen was fixed and we were told the re-calibration of the systems were done. We picked up the car and thought the problem was resolved.
A couple of days later I drove the car and as I always do, enabled the Lane Keep Assist feature. Annoyingly you have to activate this feature each time you drive the car, using a dedicated button on the wheel.
The normal light on the dash came on to say the system was active, but the car failed to lock onto any painted line, usually resulting in the graphic changing to solid lines beside the vehicle icon, rather than broken lines. Once the lanes are solid lines, you can be confident the on-board computer has your back.
While the system isn’t perfect, generally it works really well and dramatically reduces your mental input when driving. Honda Sensing technologies are a massive part of the reason we own a Honda CRV VTi-LX AWD, the top of the range model.
After the windscreen replacement, the car could no longer detect the lines on the road and therefore allowed the car to drift into other lanes, not even lane departure warnings were working. This basically became an entry-spec CRV overnight, or worth about $20k less.
I called Baker Motors Albury as they were the ones who supposedly did the calibration. I questioned how the calibration passed a driving test given anyone who knows how it works (i.e. a qualified service tech), would immediately see it wasn’t working. I didn’t get a straight answer, just apologies. I suspect the answer to this is that it wasn’t road-tested, but there’s lots more to this story.
On the 8th of July (the day of writing), we were able to take the car back in to have it recalibrated. After juggling car seats and rushing to make it to work, we got the car dropped off before 8AM and were told it’d be ready to collect around 4PM.
At 2:53PM, I received a call from Baker Motors Albury asking me to confirm the issue. I was surprised given the car had been there for more than 6 hours and now they needed clarification on the issue? I relayed my experience again, that it wouldn’t follow the white lines (anyone familiar with the Honda tech should know how the system works, it was quickly apparent they didn’t). I left that phone call still with an expectation of the car still being ready around 4PM.
At 4:34PM I got another call to come pick up the car. Now here’s where things get interesting. They told me they had not fixed the issue, then had to break the news to me that Adaptive Cruise Control, that had been working when I dropped the car off, was no also not working.
No car should leave a service center worse than when you drop it off. None.
I was informed they didn’t even have the tool required to do the calibration. This tool is called a Radar Aimer Set. We’ll get to more on this soon, but naturally, I enquired why someone would embark on a calibration when they don’t have the appropriate tools. I was told, they attempted to use a Subaru one as they thought it would work. It did not.
Apparently, they attempted to read the error logs of which the car was not displaying any errors. They then attempted to resolve the LKAS system, I assume at this point they fired up YouTube. When that didn’t work they decided to RTFM, which told them to reset and recalibrate all the vehicle sensors including the blind spot systems on the side of the car, as well as adaptive cruise radar etc, neither of which had an issue.
It was during the calibration that they realised their equipment (remember, made for Subaru) wouldn’t work on the Honda. I really hope this isn’t a result of cost-saving by the organisation. Given how common windscreen replacements are, any service department should have the necessary tools to recalibrate these systems.
I was told they didn’t have one because the car was new. Our car is the 2018 Honda CRV, which has now been on the market for around a year and a half. It’s pretty disappointing to see the company happily selling CRVs to the public who reasonably expect their service division have the tools necessary to fix it, they don’t.
After understanding I had no options other than to collect the car today in it’s broken state, I tried to focus on the timeframe for a real fix. The service representative (I won’t name him given it’s really not his fault, but I didn’t get to speak with the incompetent service team), informed me that they are trying to buy a Honda Radar Aimer Set but it maybe a couple of months before they can get one – again, ridiculous.
I was told they were busy on the phones calling other Honda service centres in the area to borrow one, but Wangaratta, Wagga Wagga also seem unable to supply the product. This seriously is a joke, I have a broken car, less safe than when I took it in there and was leaving with no ETA on the fix, incompetence is astounding.
At this point it’s worthwhile pointing out that that this business has history with poor customer service. A couple of years back, they managed to put my Lancer’s service book in another customer’s vehicle which couldn’t be retrieved.
Understanding our family still needs to get around, I collected the vehicle. I did ask to speak to the manager in the hope I could make them aware of how dysfunctional their business was. Unfortunately the manager was unavailable, so I was unable to suggest they make the necessary changes to ensure no other customers endure this.
After jumping in the car, I see the display is actually flashing a bunch of warnings on loop. Worse still, I discovered it wasn’t just the Adaptive Cruise Control that doesn’t work (this adjusts your speed based on the distance to the car ahead), regular Cruise Control doesn’t work at all. This just keeps getting better and better, at this point, I was happy the steering wheel and pedals worked.
I was also told that if the correct tools are sourced and calibration was to fail again, Honda would then likely raise the question of non-genuine glass (not my choice) being used. A few mm difference in thickness can cause issues with the forward-facing camera used in LKAS.
I asked Baker Motors Albury if they had measured the thickness of the glass to determine how far out of spec the generic windshield (supplied by O’Brien AutoGlass in Albury). I was told they had not and that this was irrelevant. When I pushed back and explained that piece of information seems incredibly relevant, I was told, Honda just looks to see if there’s a Honda logo on the glass.
My head hurts at this point, so here’s some actual technical detail to complete the rant.
At 9:18AM on the 9th of July, I received a call from management at Baker Motors Albury who clarified a couple of important details but was still unable to provide an ETA on a resolution.
They were able to successfully calibrate the front camera in the windscreen, but following the manual reset the 2 additional sensor sets. The manager agreed this was a bad decision in hindsight, given they didn’t have the correct tool to complete this calibration.
This morning Baker Motors Albury came and picked up the Honda CRV and dropped me a new Mitsubishi ASX loan vehicle. The CRV was taken to be recalibrated now they had successfully loaned the necessary hardware.
At 12:42PM I received a phone call from Bakers explaining that the calibration partly worked and the Adaptive Cruise Control was restored, however, the lane guidance could not be. They called Honda and were told to replace the glass with Genuine Honda glass. It seems a big part of the responsibility for this mess now lies with O’Brien AutoGlass Albury who tried to cheap out on things and use non-genuine glass.
I’m assured the new Honda windscreen has been ordered and is being overnighted. All going well it’d go in tomorrow and a new calibration would be done. We cross our fingers the issue is then resolved. In the meantime, I have the ASX which I’ll keep until the CRV is back to normal.
On Friday afternoon I received a call to inform me the car was ready. They had obtained (borrowed) a radar aimer set from Wagga and was able to return the vehicle back to how I had dropped it to them. With the flashing lights fixed and adaptive cruise working again, lane guidance or LKAS (the original issue) wasn’t working.
They called Honda and as expected, they immediately checked if genuine glass had been used. It had not. The car went back to O’Briens to install the overnighted glass stamped with the Honda approved logo. The car then came back to Baker’s for another attempt at calibration.
With the right glass, the calibration was successful, confirmed by two test drives 1 hour apart. Not exactly why an hour gap between tests was important, but after what we’ve been through I’m glad they were now being diligent.
The car was then swapped late on Friday 12th July. Thankfully I can confirm, the LKAS and all other car systems work as expected.
We all learnt a lot from this process. The main takeaway is this. If you own a car with advanced technology systems integrated behind the windscreen and have a windscreen insurance claim, make sure they replace it with genuine glass.
So what is a Radar Aimer Set?
Essentially this kit is a combination of alignment tools, designed to allow you to adjust the hardware and software to work together. This is required after a windscreen change, given the systems may have moved slightly and therefore provide an inaccurate measurement by the safety system. This could have major consequences for the occupants of the vehicle. In my case, LKAS was unable to read the lines on the road and therefore didn’t steer the car at all.
This video from the Hunter Learning Channel provides a great overview of the steps involved. While the video uses a Nissan Altima as the example vehicle, you get the idea, each manufacturer has their own setup.
I think we kind of all know deep down that when we buy cars with more technology in them, there could be more complicated outcomes. If you get into an accident, I think all bets are off, but something as simple and as common as a windscreen repair should never result in a car being returned to you in a worse state than you took it in.
If you’re interested, here’s the actual notes from the service technician who worked on the vehicle.