Dear Car Talk:
My 2018 Subaru Forester recently suffered the effects of a small, flying, hard object hitting the windshield while I was driving on the freeway at freeway speed. What started as a small ding at the bottom of the glass eventually became a vertical crack one-third of the way up the windshield.
My Subaru is equipped with the EyeSight safety system, which includes automatic emergency braking. In order to guarantee the system's performance, Subaru insists that the replacement windshield come from Subaru and that the EyeSight system be recalibrated to the new windshield. My dealer said the cost of the calibration was based on three hours of labor for a total of $405. This seems awfully expensive, since the factory likely didn't spend three hours calibrating it when the car was assembled.
What do you think? Is this for real? The car is great to drive, and I do like the idea of having the additional safety provided by the EyeSight camera system, but don't want to get ripped off. -- Greg
Yeah, it seems to be real, Greg. The EyeSight system uses two cameras that look out of the windshield from either side of your rearview mirror. They operate like eyes with stereo vision, in order to judge distance.
We checked with Subaru, and they tell us that cars with the EyeSight system use a specific windshield glass, so you do need to use a Subaru replacement. They say that after the windshield is replaced, the settings on the EyeSight cameras are cleared and then recalibrated. That's followed by a test drive, to make sure the system doesn't apply the brakes automatically for a taco truck at the side of the road, rather than a car stopped in front of you. They estimate the whole job takes three hours.
While these systems are, generally, great, they do vary in technology. Subaru has opted for this two-camera, binocular vision system. On the plus side, it's relatively inexpensive to purchase, which has allowed Subaru to make it available to a lot more car buyers at a reasonable cost. More safety for more people is a good thing. On the downside, unless your windshield replacement is covered by insurance, you have to take out a home equity loan every time a stone kicks up at your car from a double FedEx truck.
So if you haven't already done so, Greg, you should call your insurance company and find out whether it covers windshield replacement. Coverage varies by state, but if the crack was bad enough that it impaired your vision or made the windshield unstable, your insurance company may be required to pick up the cost -- including the three-hour "EyeSight retraining course." Good luck.