by Bob Beranek
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Christmas is coming and the New Year is right around the corner. This is always my favorite time of the year because I have a chance to reflect on the past year and make plans for the new one.

This past year saw some interesting changes to our industry that, for better or worse, we have to address in the future:

  • We have seen the advent of the aluminum automobile as a metal of the future. With the arrival of the new 2015 Ford F150, aluminum is going to be used on many more vehicles and we will have to deal with the proper bonding of glass to that metal.
  • The expansion of driver assist systems like Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Departure Systems, Automatic Braking Systems and Blind Side Warning Systems may either make dealership interactions with glass shops become commonplace or force us to delve into add-on services, like re-calibration, that can be quite costly to begin and maintain.
  • Original equipment is not as dependable as it used to be. We have seen robots leave inches of adhesive missing from the application, paint delaminating on several different vehicle brands, primers pealing from OE-primed glass parts, and parts that exist but are not listed as existing.
  • The move by vehicle manufacturers to recommend OEM glass for replacement to assure proper operation of value-added and safety features on an automobile may require us to use OEM glass whether we want to or not.

We can never accurately predict the future but we can plan for it. What does the future hold for the automotive glass replacement industry?

  • It is going to demand that we be more vigilant in our observations and actions regarding safe and proper replacement.
  • It will require us to make better friends and business partners with our local dealerships. They will become our business partners or they could grow to become our most challenging competitor.
  • It may require the investment in new tools, new technology and training to be competitive in our particular markets.
  • It may take political action or cooperation with our competitors to fight for our right to do business and not be phased out or made obsolete.

In the many years that I have been in this industry, I have seen consistently how glass shops respond to adversity and become stronger for the experience. This past year and the next one is no different than the years before and the years to come. Challenges arise, technology changes and obstacles get in the way but the ARRG industry always shines in the end.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and Happy Holidays to you and yours.

I received the weekly National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) Office of Defects Investigation report and noticed an item I thought would be of interest to those glass technicians who replace the outside rearview mirror.

In this case, the driver-side rearview mirror is convex giving the driver a confusing view of the traffic behind them. The traffic seems closer than is normal and might confuse the driver.

Make sure that any driver-side rearview mirrors replaced on the models listed are proper for FMVSS111, which should be a normal 1:1 ratio-view mirror or flat-stock mirror.

Photo courtesy of bmwblog.com.

Photo courtesy of bmwblog.com.

Photo courtesy of carblogindia.com.

Photo courtesy of carblogindia.com.

Report Receipt Date: October 16, 2014
NHTSA Campaign Number: 14V648000
Component(s): Visibility
Potential Number of Units Affected: 53

Vehicle Make, Model, Model Year(s)

·        BMW X3 2015

·        BMW X4 2015
Manufacturer: BMW of North America LLC

SUMMARY:

BMW of North America LLC (BMW) is recalling certain model year 2015 X3 and X4 Sports Activity Vehicles manufactured July 28, 2014 to July 29, 2014. The affected vehicles may have been produced with a driver’s side exterior rearview mirror that was designed to meet non-U.S. market requirements. Thus, these vehicles fail to comply with the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards No. 111, “Rearview Mirrors.”

CONSEQUENCE:

The driver may not notice that vehicles viewed in the mirror are closer than they appear, increasing the risk of a crash.

REMEDY:

BMW will notify owners and dealers will replace the driver’s side exterior rearview mirror, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin November 1, 2014. Owners may contact BMW customer service at 1/800-525-7417 or email CustomerRelations@bmwusa.com.

NOTES:

Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov.

Now let’s move onto the next recall. It’s of lesser importance but good to know. This one involves restraint system recalls. The Acura MDX recall calls for the replacement of the seatbelt tensioners and pretensioners at the nearest dealership. It should not take long and a friendly reminder is always appreciated.

We’ll also look at a GM recall, which is a simple programing change to make the airbags work properly. Evidently the wiring for the airbags are reversed and a simple reprograming is needed.

Photo courtesy otoreviews.com.

Photo courtesy otoreviews.com.

Photo courtesy of newcarreviewsusa.com.

Photo courtesy of newcarreviewsusa.com.

Report Receipt Date: October 10, 2014
NHTSA Campaign Number: 14V639000
Component(s): Seat Belts
Potential Number of Units Affected: 43,481

Vehicle Make, Model, Model Year(s)

·        ACURA MDX 2014-2015

·        ACURA RLX 2014
Manufacturer: Honda (American Honda Motor Co.)

SUMMARY:

American Honda Motor Co. (Honda) is recalling certain model year 2014-2015 Acura MDX vehicles manufactured April 23, 2013, to August 25, 2014, and 2014 Acura RLX vehicles manufactured November 5, 2012, to November 25, 2013. In the affected vehicles, the driver and front passenger seat belt may not extend or retract in low temperatures.

CONSEQUENCE:

A seatbelt that does not function increases the risk of injury in a crash.

REMEDY:

Honda has notified owners and dealers will replace the driver and front passenger seat belts free of charge. The recall began in November 2014. Owners may contact Acura customer service at 1-800-382-2238. Honda’s number for this recall is JK7 for the MKX, and JK8 for the RLX.

NOTES:

Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov.

Photo courtesy of autoblog.com.

Photo courtesy of autoblog.com.

Photos courtesy of gmauthority.com.

Photos courtesy of gmauthority.com.

Report Receipt Date: October 9, 2014
NHTSA Campaign Number: 14V645000
Component(s): Airbags
Potential Number of Units Affected: 2,283

Vehicle Make, Model, Model Year(s)

·        CHEVROLET COLORADO 2015

·        GMC CANYON 2015
Manufacturer: General Motors LLC

SUMMARY:

General Motors LLC (GM) is recalling certain model year 2015 Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon vehicles manufactured January 6, 2014, to October 1, 2014. In the affected vehicles, the driver airbag connections may have been wired incorrectly. This could reverse the deployment sequence and disrupt the deployment timing of the driver airbag. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 208, “Occupant Crash Protection.”

CONSEQUENCE:

If the driver airbag does not deploy as designed, there is an increased risk of driver injury in the event of a crash necessitating air bag deployment.

REMEDY:

GM will notify owners and dealers will reprogram the inflatable restraint sensing and diagnostic module (SDM) free of charge. The recall began on October 6, 2014. Owners may contact GM customer service at 1-800-222-1020 (Chevrolet) or 1-800-462-8782 (GMC). GM’s number for this recall is 14690.

NOTES:

Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov.

One of the advantages of maturity is the ability to see how things progress over a period of time. In this case, I am referring to the desire of carmakers to own the copyrights on the parts and built-in technologies in and on their vehicles. The latest move towards this end is demonstrated in the Honda Service News Article A14100D. In this article, Honda says that safety systems built into the vehicle may work “abnormally … or not at all” if an aftermarket windshield is used to replace the original. This is just another in a series of actions taken by vehicle manufacturers to try to control their intellectual property and copyrights.

Let’s go back to when I first heard of these kinds of efforts put forth by manufacturers and their lobbyists. Twenty three years ago, House majority leader Richard Gephardt introduced a bill in Congress called the “Design Innovation and Technology Act of 1991.” It was designed to keep foreign parts out of the U.S. market and to promote the sale of domestic parts. The bill had some great ideas and laudable goals such as creating more American jobs and higher wages. Everyone wants that, right?

The problem was that the bill basically said a car manufacturer owns the copyrights to all the parts on the automobile they produce and can determine when and if those parts can be made by other entities. This would make insurance rates skyrocket and practically give a monopoly to the carmakers. Due to some skillful counter-lobbying efforts by the insurance industry and the glass industry, the bill eventually died in committee and never became law.

The next initiative taken by auto manufacturers was to copyright and/or patent parts and technology whenever possible. Some shrewd moves and legal manipulations were required to attain these results, but car companies made some small inroads. One of these actions was the introduction of “logoed” parts. A logo can be copyrighted, so if a part displays a corporate logo and the customer demands its inclusion, the price of the part goes up and the corporation makes additional profit, much like the NFL, MLB and other sports and corporate entities. All legal and above board. Who can fault a company for increasing profits? Plus, the insurance industry could simply use words (like and kind) in their policies to bypass the cost differential. It was a win-win for everyone.

However, this new Honda article creates a new concern. Everyone wants and is entitled to have a safe automobile. It is the obligation of all aftermarket suppliers and service providers to restore the vehicle to a safe condition after repair. Honda uses the statement “… (The use of ARG glass parts) may present unforeseen circumstances causing the driver assist or other safety systems to operate abnormally or not at all …” The key words in that statement are “may … operate abnormally or not at all.” May? Don’t they know? Is that a definitive statement that we, as automotive glass providers, can take to the bank and act on? I don’t think so.

So where do we go from here? If Honda is successful in requiring OEM glass on all the vehicles that have driver assist systems, then the odds are that other vehicle manufacturers will quickly follow suit. Why wouldn’t they? It would increase sales of OEM parts for their distribution centers, get the customers in to the dealer for OEM replacement parts and mitigate the cost of outsourced glass services. This would be a big win for the car dealers and a big setback for the automotive glass shops and distributors. Is this a concern for you? What can the AGR Industry do to stop it? I’d like to hear your thoughts.