Do You Need a Calibration When Replacing Your Windshield?

Together with partner Keith Signoriello, Ben Cavallo is the principal and co-owner of C&S Insurance.

As technology improves, the vehicles we drive are getting more and more advanced. Nowadays, blind spot monitoring, automatic emergency brakes, forward collision warnings, backup cameras, and even self-driving features are becoming all the more ubiquitous.

About 60 million vehicles in the US are equipped with such advanced safety systems, and more than 80% of all cars in the country are expected to have some level of advanced safety technology in the next five to 10 years. But with technological progress often comes complexity in repair processes and increased costs.

One part of our cars that is rapidly gaining new features is the windshield. In the past, a windshield may have been simply a piece of glass that allows drivers to see the road while protecting them from the elements. But now, they’re much more than that. Replacing windshields has become much more costly, and many windshields also now require a process called calibration.

Here is all you need to know about modern windshield complexity and calibration.

New Windshield Safety Features

Windshields are often now equipped with advanced safety features, including collision avoidance breaking (AEB), adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, and lane assistance. These features are enabled by cameras, so windshields are now built with multiple cameras—and sometimes advanced technology like radar—alongside heating and cooling elements to balance the cameras’ temperatures. Together, these features are known as Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS).

Most accidents on the road occur due to human error. ADAS features aim to minimize human error to prevent crashes. Some ADAS features can take control of the vehicle in certain situations to prevent collisions, while others alert the driver via lights, sound, and/or vibration.

One new feature on the horizon in 2024 is a type of safety system called radar sensor fusion. This system involves a combination of signals from multiple sensor types—cameras, radar, and light detection and ranging (LIDAR). These separate pieces work in tandem to approximate the presence of hazards on the road like pedestrians and other vehicles, determining their positions, velocities, and trajectories.

Because these new features involve cameras, radar, and LIDAR, a process called windshield calibration (also known as windshield camera calibration or ADAS calibration) is now a necessity for the functioning of the vehicle’s safety features.

What is Windshield Calibration?

A crucial part of the functioning of ADAS equipment is their exact placement, such as the angle of each camera. If a camera’s position is altered by just a degree or two, it can impair the viewing area and lead to accidents.

If you replace the windshield in a modern car, all the ADAS equipment—including cameras, sensors, and heating and cooling elements—get removed and reattached to the new windshield. This is why calibration is a crucial part of the windshield replacement process—the cameras need to be adjusted to fit the viewing window of the new glass, just like your eyes need to get used to a new pair of glasses.

Calibration is the process of adjusting and testing all cameras and sensors on the windshield after a windshield replacement. ADAS calibration requires the special equipment and expertise of a professional—it’s not something you should try to do on your own. The entire process takes about 30 to 45 minutes and can typically be done during your windshield replacement visit.

Do I Need a Windshield Calibration?

If you’re getting your windshield replaced, it’s likely that you need a calibration. Consumer Reports provides a list of vehicles from 2016 to 2021 model years that contain ADAS features, which means they require calibration.

If you have a newer car model, be sure to do your research and determine whether you need an ADAS calibration with your windshield replacement. Some vehicles may even require multiple calibrations, such as new Subaru models.

Familiarize yourself with your car’s safety features. If you have any of the following features on your vehicle, you most likely need a calibration following your windshield replacement:

  • Forward Collision Alert (FCA)
  • Lane Departure Warning (LDW)
  • Lane Keep Assist (LKA)
  • Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC)
  • Automatic Braking (ABS)
  • Traffic Sign Recognition (TSR)
  • Driver Status Monitoring (DSM)
  • Pedestrian Detection (PD)
  • Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM)

How Much Does Windshield Calibration Cost?

ADAS calibration for your windshield generally costs between $300 and $600, depending on where you live and what type of car you have. Most insurers will cover the cost of a windshield calibration if your policy covers broken glass, but be sure to check with your insurance provider.

Looking for auto insurance in Massachusetts? Learn more about why you should choose C&S for your car insurance needs.