As driver-assist technology in vehicles expands, so does the cost of manufacturing and ultimately, the sticker price. It's no secret that new and used cars are more expensive now than ever, but a new study from AAA raises another cost issue you may not think of. In the event of a crash – even a minor one – those tech systems can be supremely expensive to repair.
How expensive are we talking about? Prices vary depending on all kinds of factors, but AAA found an average of 37.6 percent of costs involved in repairing crash damage go just to fix and calibrate the sensors and cameras used for advanced driver systems. That includes things like dynamic cruise control and lane-keep assist where radars and cameras are called into action, but older tech like rear parking sensors also factor into the equation.
"Vehicles equipped with more sophisticated safety systems are much more common now, especially since NHTSA proposed its rule requiring automatic emergency braking earlier this year," said Greg Brannon, the director of automotive engineering for AAA. "Consumers should know about the repair costs associated with these technologies. But they must also understand the importance of fixing them since improperly functioning systems could result in a deadly crash."
Taking a deeper dive into the systems, AAA evaluated three vehicles from the 2023 model year equipped with advanced driver assist gear. On average, repairing and properly calibrating radar sensors added $500 to $1,300 to the repair bill. Ultrasonic sensors often used for parking assistance added anywhere from $300 to $1,000, and windshield camera systems contributed $900 to $1,200. Again, these are costs just for the tech systems.
Another eye-opening stat in the report comes from side-view mirrors. Surround-view and blind-spot systems often include sensors and/or cameras in the side mirrors, but they can add between $740 and $1,600 to a repair cost. Per AAA, that can account for 70.8 percent of the cost to just replace a mirror. Yikes.
While such systems certainly add cost on all sides, there's little doubt these features save lives. A study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that pickup trucks equipped with automatic emergency braking had a 43 percent lower rate of rear-end collisions, and injury reports were 42 percent lower.