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Consumer Reports: Smarter and safer car repairs

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Posted at 4:00 AM, Feb 21, 2020

TUCSON, Ariz. - Many of today’s cars are engineered with the latest advanced safety features. They can watch the road, steer back into their lane, and even automatically brake when a crash is imminent. Although investing in advanced safety technology on your next car will raise its sticker price, it will lessen an impact or even avoid a collision altogether. But what happens when these systems need a repair?

“These advanced safety systems can’t work without sensors, unfortunately the sensors are located in these easy-to-damage areas like the bumper, or the windshield, or the side mirrors," says Consumer Reports Car Editor, Jeff Plungis.

According to RepairPal, the average cost of a basic windshield replacement runs about $300-500. But a replacement for a windshield with advanced safety components could soar anywhere from $800-1,900. Although more expensive to repair, Consumer Reports says these advanced safety systems are worth it because they’re keeping drivers safer on the roads.

According to a recent study, rear-end collision rates in vehicles with forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking were 46% lower than those without these systems. So how worried should you be that you’ll get a big bill from the mechanic? Consumer Reports says your car insurance should help.

“When you get one of these bills you might have some sticker shock, but don’t panic," says Plungis. "You won’t pay any more than your insurance deductible.”

CR says because these systems have become more complicated, it may be harder to find the right mechanic for the job. Ask your dealership if it can handle the repair or if it can recommend a qualified repair shop.

If you’re in the market for a new car, CR strongly recommends looking for a vehicle with automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, forward collision warning, and blind spot warning: features that could turn a devastating crash into just a close call.