Making Sense of Driver Assistant Systems on Your Car

by | Nov 19, 2018 | Auto Questions, Industry-Wide Topics

What You Need To Know

As automation in auto technology fast forwards and driver assistance systems quickly become the new normal in daily driving, understanding the basics of these systems becomes paramount.  It won’t be long before we start relying on these systems to keep us safe on the road. 2018 saw driver assistant systems filter down to all makes and models. Soon we will accept and trust these systems. 

Also on the technology horizon are more advanced systems that allow cars to communicate with each other and warn of unfavorable driving situations. As we see the number of traffic accidents go down and lives being saved we will become more comfortable with cars that drive themselves.

It is important to understand how this new technology in your car works because driver assistance systems differ from manufacturer to manufacturer. Your driver handbook and your auto care professional at BA Auto Care are your best advisors in getting to know how your system works. 

Making Sense of Sensors

Every driver assistance system relies on a series of sensors and cameras spread throughout your car.  They can only function correctly if they stay clean and unrestricted. A sensor can be negated very easily by a poorly placed window sticker, EZ Pass,  or even bad weather. In addition, knowing these systems could save you money on complex diagnostic work. Just consider these two all too common scenarios:

Driver Assisted Blocking of Sensors: In this first scenario, the driver has placed two different items on the inside of the windscreen, preventing two driver assistant systems from working properly. This usually shows up when we are performing predictive and preventive maintenance on a vehicle. At BA Auto Care, we always perform a complete baseline scan of the computer systems and check all the data. The faults showed up in the pending codes.  If the system continues to see issues a warning light comes on.

Bad Weather Blocks Sensors:  In this second scenario, a car was driven on the highway for half an hour in winter weather that included freezing rain. After arriving in the city, the Pedestrian Warning System started coming on at every stop. This happened in a multi-story parking lot!  After driving into a parking space, the system finally corrected itself. This occurred because the sensors had become covered with freezing rain.

Freezing rain on car windshield

Types of Driver Assistance Systems

(A Glossary of Common Terms)

As we advance towards self-driving vehicles (autonomous vehicles) there will be a lengthening list of  “driver assistance systems” that keep us safe and assist us in our driving.  Knowing the names of these systems and the protection they provide is important because all these systems can be negated by weather, dirt or placing items near the sensors. Following is a list of driver assistant systems and what they do:

Parking and Backing Assistant.  This system uses a series of cameras to show you where you, showing you views from the front, from the back, and from above the car. This system is sometimes called “Surround Vision”.

Rear cross traffic alert (RCTA). When backing up, this system warns you when traffic is coming from either the left or right.  It displays an arrow showing the direction of oncoming traffic and beeps a warning.

Forward Collision Alert (FAC). This system warns the driver when a front-end collision is likely by placing a warning on the screen and making a loud beep through the entertainment system. If ignored, some systems (IBA) will apply the brakes.

Intelligent Brake Assist (IBA). The brakes will be automatically boosted and applied if necessary. (FAB)

Collision Mitigating Braking System (CMBS). If the system feels you should be braking, it will alert you and then brake for you.

Tailgating Alert. If you are following too close to the vehicle ahead, it will warn you.


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About the Author

About Brian England

Brian England, the current president of BA Auto Care (formerly British American Auto Care), got his start with an auto apprenticeship in a small town in northwest of London. He came to the U.S. in 1972 to work for a Land Rover dealer in Rockville, MD. A few years later, he started British American Auto Care with his wife, Jennifer. Brian is a big believe in preventative maintenance, and his philosophy is to encourage and educate drivers on the benefits of a regular maintenance plan.