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How Car Washes are Affecting Auto-Braking Systems, and Can Be Compromising your Safety

In the quest to provide safe and dependable cars for today’s drivers and passengers, many car manufacturers are now looking at top technologies and safety innovations. For example, top companies are now looking at self-driving and totally autonomous cars that can secure on and off the road, and apply the brakes instantaneously if the system senses danger. In the automotive world, this is called auto braking system, and a technology that helps promote the safety of drivers and passengers even if the drivers are not that focused. And based on the tests of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, this automotive technology is considered a welcome development that can help cut the risks associated with accidents.

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This is the reason why regulators have recommended the incorporation of forward collision prevention systems in many trucks and light-duty cars by 2022. But if you think that this new technology can help secure your safety on and off the road, well think again. According to some tests, this new technology is not considered perfect. In fact, the auto braking capability of your car can be compromised by one common and popular service- a car wash.

Auto-braking systems fail to distinguish soft mitter from solid wall

According to many websites, car owners and enthusiasts are now discovering how car washes can compromise the car’s auto braking systems. Some tests suggest that through constant car wash, the auto braking system can be affected. So what’s in a car wash service that can render the technology useless?

According to some experts, the same sensors that are tapped into the forward collision mitigation system of a car is rendered useless during car wash, and the system cannot tell the difference between the ‘soft mitter curtain’, and the solid wall. During a car wash, its auto-braking system sees these two systems as two indistinguishable parts, seen as large obstructions that need to be avoided. This is the reason why many car wash operators and technicians notice vehicles that get stuck during the car washing process, and this was due to the action of the auto-braking system. And in some cases, the auto-braking system moved the car out of the car wash area, and in the process colliding with other parked cars in the area, just to avoid a potential crash.

The same problem has been noted among vehicles that are parked and in the queue, with the electronic parking brake systems malfunctioning. This development often affects all cars that are waiting in line to get the service. There are also instances when the emergency brake is engaged automatically, even when this feature has been switched off, and according to other drivers, they may need to shift park before attempting to stop the engine.

New car technologies promote convenience, but offers some headaches for drivers

According to Chicago Autohaus, the industry can now depend on a number of convenient car technologies like auto braking and collision detection that help promote safety on the road. Unfortunately, many of these technologies have unintended consequences. They also shared that as informed consumers, it is important to learn more about these consequences, like the potential pitfalls when it comes to using a carwash with these braking systems.

Some of the car makes that are affected by car wash are:

  • Volvo
  • Subaru
  • Tesla
  • Range Rover
  • Mercedes-Benz
  • BMW. Acura
  • RAM
  • Jeep
  • Fiat
  • Chrysler
  • Dodge

Keep in mind though that the emergency braking system and auto braking will not complicate matters if a conveyor belt system is used, or when the car is transported using a tunnel.

Also, the differentiation in the design of the semi-autonomous systems can complicate matters. According to Eric Wulf from the International Carwash Association, there is a lack of standardization in these new technologies. This problem is noted with Honda vehicles, with the auto-braking system designed to automatically stop or disengage if the car is traveling at less than 10 mph, which can be problematic for most car washes. There are other makes and models out there that require drivers to manually disable the system. And there are systems out there that will remain functional and active, even if the car is already turned off.

All these information and details may be found in the manual, but many drivers often fail to read the contents, which complicates the problem. To know more about the affected models and workarounds that can be done, please check out the report made by Chicago Autohaus, with information from the International Carwash Association.

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