Antimicrobial Product Arsenal for Your Shop

Antimicrobial Product Arsenal for Your Shop

Germs can be found all over a car. Customers want to know their vehicle is safe to drive off and fill with their families.

By Michael LaMotta, Contributing Writer

We have all been increasing the frequency at which we sterilize high contact areas in our homes. What about our vehicles? What about the vehicles your shop works on?

Even before the coronavirus pandemic heightened our collective consciousness of germs, there was some disturbing data disclosed by CarRentals.com comparing the colony-forming units (CFUs) on parts of a vehicle’s interior to other common “high touch” areas. Leading the list of gag-inducing statistics: your steering wheel is up to four times dirtier than a public toilet seat! You remember that thing you used to wrap your bare hands around multiple times a day, often while carrying your morning coffee up to your mouth?

Gear shift handles and trunks are even worse, and not far behind the steering wheel in bacteria-laden CFUs is the cupholder. These interior vehicle surfaces, on average, are six times dirtier than an average cell phone screen. You’ve likely been wiping that down more often in recent months, as well.

High-touch points in our vehicles extend far beyond the steering wheel. We touch the door handles, the radio, the glove box, the seatbelts, the arm rest and more. There are countless surfaces where the hazards of contamination create risk.

As such, we are seeing a surge in antimicrobial treatment sales.

Germs can be found on a car’s buttons and knobs. It settles in the vents and works its way into the crevices and cracks that you can’t get to with normal detailing equipment. Steam cleaning a vehicle can remove upholstery stains and terrible odors, but what about the germs — those nasty CFUs? Applied to new and pre-owned vehicle interiors, antimicrobial treatments are designed to eliminate and protect against pathogens and fungi that can transmit illnesses.

Antimicrobial treatments must become a priority. As an industry, we need to take every precaution to ensure the health and safety of our employees and customers. Customers want to know their vehicle is safe to drive off and fill with their families.

We owe it to our customers to ensure that we are doing our part to help keep them safe, but that doesn’t mean we need to use dangerous chemicals to keep germs at bay. Make sure the protection you provide is an antimicrobial surface protectant that permanently bonds to treated surfaces and provides long-term, chemical-free protection.

There is a rush to meet this growing need in the industry, and a wide variety of products becoming available. Make sure your shop uses a product that is EPA-registered as a Category IV low-toxicity disinfectant, requiring no warning labels and no PPE. This type of broad-spectrum antimicrobial is economical, ready-to-use and lets you disinfect and deodorize — all in one easy step.

Harmful microbes and bacteria can remain on some surfaces for 24+ hours, or even days if wet. Thus, a durable coating that is bonded to the surface and physically kills microbes indiscriminately is valuable to a front-line defense against harmful microbes and the next wave of new or mutating harmful microbes. While a topical interior cleaning has always been a good car-care practice, it is now imperative to make sure the vehicles being worked on are free from any viruses so we can get drivers back on the open road safely. 

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Scan Tool Tech

While systems can and will differ, here’s a look at common ADAS features, their general configurations and calibration requirements.

scan tool tech

Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) require the use of a scan tool for diagnostics, and the majority of the time, it’s required for post-repair calibration. ADAS, like any other system, requires a diagnostic routine, which begins with a base knowledge of the system. Knowing ADAS will help understand fault symptoms and scan tool data for the most efficient diagnosis.While systems can and will differ, here’s a look at common ADAS features, their general configurations and calibration requirements.Parking assist sensors, of which there can be more than one, are generally located in the front and rear bumpers. They are the inputs that affect active parking assist and parking collision warnings. Any time they are disturbed in any manner, a static calibration must be performed with a scan tool.Side object sensors, sometimes called collision avoidance sensors, are commonly located in the rear bumper. These sensors provide input for blind spot warnings, lane change alerts and rear cross traffic warnings. Static calibration with a scan tool is required when these are removed or replaced.Rear vision cameras will be located in the rear decklid, liftgate or tailgate, and act as either a backup camera alone, or part of a surround view system if the vehicle is so equipped. These cameras generally require a dynamic calibration, and no scan tool is required.A forward-looking camera is sometimes located behind the grille, and usually part of a surround view system. These too do not require a scan tool, but a dynamic calibration must be performed when they are removed or replaced.Different ADAS features may have dedicated control modules which can be located in various areas, often behind interior panels. As with most control modules, these require scan tool programming when replaced and, depending on the system, both static and dynamic calibrations may be required.The Haptic Seat Motor creates the vibration to provide a safety alert for blind spot, forward collision, lane departure, lane keep assist, parking collision and rear cross traffic warnings. These motors, sometimes called seat warning actuators, generally require no type of calibration.Cameras located in a sideview mirror are part of surround view systems. These require calibration when removed or replaced, but most of them dynamic, and no scan tool is required.The steering angle sensor located in the steering column is an input for lane keep assistance, and a static calibration is required with a scan tool any time it is removed or replaced, or any time a wheel alignment is performed.Last, but not least, is the front view, or forward-looking camera located in the windshield area. This camera is a vital part of adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, automatic high beam headlights, forward collision and lane departure warnings, and lane keeping assistance. A scan tool and static and dynamic calibration are required after removal and replacement, but also after windshield removal or replacement, or any service that affects the ride height of the vehicle. TS

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