In this article we’re going to cover all the questions a Subaru owner might have about Eyesight calibration. What is it. Who needs it. How much does it cost. Where can I get it done. And of course, is it really necessary.
Which Subaru models have Eyesight?
Here in the US, Subaru Eyesight first appeared on the Legacy and Outback in 2013, and then slightly later on the 2014 Forester. Now in 2023, nearly all of the Subaru models are equipped with Eyesight and other ADAS features, even in the base trim. Even the $19,795 base model Impreza comes standard with Eyesight. One exception in the lineup is the joint Subaru-Toyota BRZ.
What is Subaru Eyesight?
Eyesight is Subaru’s brand name for the stereo camera system mounted behind the windshield near the rear-view mirror. It looks out at the road while you drive and since there are two cameras (much like our two eyes), it’s able to judge distance. Your Subaru uses this input for several systems.
First there’s Lane Departure Warning. I like to call it the “use your damn turn signals” system. If you start drifting out of your lane (and your car knows you’re drifting because if you had meant to change lanes, surely you would have used your signal like a good citizen), your Subaru will warn you.
Next, there Lane Keep Assist or “LKAS”. The little icon that looks like a car with lane markings on either side represents this system. LKAS goes a step further and tries to help you stay in your own lane.
Finally there’s the pre-collision braking system. Your Subaru will alert you when you’re about to drive into something in front of you, then, if you’re too busy fishing your phone from in-between the seat and door to respond in time, your Subaru will slam on the brakes to minimize injury.
Everybody always say they don’t need this stuff and it’s annoying. They’re wrong. I’ve seen y’all driving in Berkeley. You’re not as good at it as you think. (Don’t get mad. I’m talking about those other drivers. You, kind reader, are a great driver!)
Why does Subaru Eyesight need to be calibrated?
Humans have several senses. We have eyes, ears, a nose, a mouth, and our skin and body to take in the world around us. Your Subaru has a more limited view of the world. It has its “eyes”, and a yaw/G sensors (a bit like our inner ear), and a radar array for detecting objects in front of it.
We can move our head and eyes and know which way we’re looking. Your Subaru’s cameras are stationary relative to the car and cannot move. The Subaru Eyesight system must be calibrated so that it knows where the centerline of the car is and so it can adjust its stereo distance calculations using a known target at a known distance.
I’d guess that it also calibrates for size as well so it can calculate objects at greater distance using size and object recognition. For instance, if it recognizes a car and has an idea how big cars are, it might be able to guess its distance based on its size: large = close, small = far. This is just me guessing though.
HOW IS SUBARU EYESIGHT CALIBRATED?
We calibrate Subaru Eyesight using what Subaru calls a “random” target. It’s basically a poster with a QR code-like pattern. We place the target at a precise height and distance in front of the car on the exact centerline of the car.
Before calibrating the Eyesight system, the car must be aligned so that the thrust angle (the direction the rear tires are “pointing”) matches the centerline of the car. Subaru recommends using a standard whiteboard to hang the target. The target mount isn’t all that important, but the position, level, and tilt are.
A laser level and laser distance meter are the easiest way to set the target, but a string, tape measure and a little bit of trigonometry can also work. I use the lasers because they’re faster and you wouldn’t want anything important to rest on my mathematical ability. We use the Subaru Select Monitor 4 to start the calibration routine, the car looks for the target with its cameras.
If the target is too far from the correct position, the calibration will fail with an error code that will help figure our what’s wrong. The real danger is setting the target “close enough” to correct for the calibration to run. This will result in a mis-calibration. The goal is to place the target as precisely as possible, not to get the calibration to run.
I was talking to an ADAS trainer who told a story where he walked into a dealership and saw two technicians “calibrating” forward facing cameras. One was moving the target a bit and then telling the other “try it now”. The other tech would start the calibration routine, which would fail. The first tech moved the target again and the process repeated until the second tech eventually said, “It’s working now”. (This wasn’t a Subaru dealership for what it’s worth.)
Can I skip calibration after replacing a windshield? Is calibration really necessary?
People who wear glasses will know about this. I started wearing glasses as an adult. When I got my first set of glasses I walked out my optician’s office to a set of stairs, which I could barely walk down because my legs were so long.
Variation in glass thickness will change what the Subaru Eyesight sees. Subaru requires an Eyesight calibration after windshield replacement. Is it really necessary? I don’t know that it’s not, so I’d recommend that you do it. It’s a safety system, capable of braking and steering your car. I’d recommend following the manufacturer’s instructions. Besides, I’ve got a mortgage to pay 😉
Is it necessary to calibrate Eyesight after an alignment?
The short answer is no, you don’t need to calibrate the Subaru Eyesight cameras after an alignment, but that’s a little misleading. If the wheels are aligned the yaw/G sensor should be calibrated and the Eyesight learning value should be cleared. The Subaru camera system has two types of calibration, static (with the target in the shop) and dynamic (what the system has learned while you’re driving).
After an alignment the thrust angle is likely different, and the Eyesight system needs to adjust. If the old data remains in place, it will take longer to learn because it has to fight to displace all the data it learned in the past (which is now wrong). Clearing the data means that the system will start fresh, and log correct data a lot faster.
How much does Subaru Eyesight calibration cost?
Currently we’re charging $370 for a Subaru Eyesight Calibration. This includes the required wheel alignment. I’ve found that putting prices on our website is generally a bad idea.
Hourly rates change, procedures change, policies change, we get better at things, we discover new potential problems, and so on. I made an exception this time, but for the record, whatever we quote you for your car is what we charge. If I forget to update this page after our next rate change, then you may hear something different on the phone.
Where can I get my Subaru cameras calibrated?
You don’t need to find a Subaru service center. You can get your Subaru Eyesight calibrated right here at Art’s Automotive in Berkeley! Give us a call to get a current price and set up an appointment.
If you’re interested in reading about some ADAS systems other than Eyesight, here’s an article on ADAS calibration.
Interested in learning more about routine maintenance on your Subaru? Check out our article about Subaru service.
Is your Subaru rear hatch acting up? Here’s how to fix your beeping Subaru hatch.
This is a link to a video from the motorcycle YouTube channel FortNine, but this video isn’t entirely about motorcycles. It’s about ADAS and it’s faults. Ryan discusses stereo cameras, radar sensors, lidar sensors, and the current competency gaps in machine learning powered “self-driving”. I thought it was pretty good. Maybe you will too.