by Bob Beranek
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Sometimes, when installing glass in a vehicle with one (or more) previous installations, I notice that the previous tech primed some damaged areas, but missed some due to the presence of corrosion. I wonder how he missed such obvious scratches.

Of course, the scratches are obvious to me because they are now corroded and the rust expanded, making the scratches larger and more visible. In the process of installation, even the best technicians can miss small problems if they do not purposely look for them. Problems may include “flaps” of urethane, broken clips and deeper scratches that the technician thought were superficial.

As many of you know, I judge the AGSC Auto Glass Technician Olympics at Auto Glass Week. I am assisted by some of the most talented auto glass professionals in the industry, and every year I learn new things from them as well as the contestants competing.

One of the best tips I ever got was from my friend and colleague, Bruce Gates from Gates Brothers Glass in Bellefontaine, Ohio. I’ve known Bruce for more than thirty years from our days teaching the Auto Glass Technical Institute. He gave me and the other judges a tip on a way of detecting those hidden deep scratches. He took an LED pocket flashlight and went around the pinchweld. When the light hits bare metal, it makes the deep scratches light up like a neon light. If it hits the “E” coats, primer coats or other superficial scratches, it will appear dull.

The need to cover deep, bare metal scratches is imperative to the long term success of the installation and must be a top priority for every install. This is especially true today, when some adhesive companies require double priming of deep scratches for proper coverage and ultimate protection from corrosion.  However, finding all those scratches is a challenge. Here are some suggestions to make your installations corrosion free.

  1. Don’t cause scratches in the first place. Use scratch-resistant tools, such as wire tools, coated cold knife blades, and protective tapes. Use removal techniques that reduce or eliminate pinchweld damage, eliminate “plunge cuts,” use power tools as they’re designed and master hand tools for better control.
  2. Take the time to find all of the scratches. Scratches are sometimes impossible to avoid either because of vehicle design or prior sloppy installation. However, if you don’t find them all, the result is shortening the vehicle’s life and undermining the quality of the installations.
  3. Once you find the scratches, follow your adhesive manufacturers’ instructions for covering the damage. It may take special primers, special procedures or special preparation.

Corrosion is not fun to find or fix. However, corrosion is part of the job and must be fixed. Some of us live in areas of the country where corrosion may be a daily occurrence, while others see it rarely. Keep this in mind. If we don’t scratch the vehicle we are working on, or we find every scratch on the vehicle and prep it properly, there will be fewer vehicles with corrosion, and our jobs will be proportionally easier. I’m all for easier.

Bob Beranek is the president of Automotive Glass Consultants Inc. 

I get questions from techs in the field about galvanic corrosion regularly. This article discusses where we should look for corrosion when installing auto glass and what we can do to prevent it.

Wikipedia defines galvanic corrosion (also called bimetallic corrosion) as an electrochemical process in which one metal corrodes preferentially when it is in electrical contact with another, in the presence of an electrolyte.

Short of going into long scientific explanations of how galvanic corrosion occurs, let’s simply put it like this: When two dissimilar metals make contact, the possibility of galvanic corrosion is likely. Galvanic corrosion is not like the “rust” we are used to seeing. Instead of looking like rough orange flaking metal, it appears like a white powder that eventually eats away at the weaker metal.

We as techs rarely think about the ramifications of two dissimilar metals touching when doing an installation, but we should. If a steel screw is used to attach a chrome molding to an aluminum vehicle, we will eventually have problems. The aluminum will eat away, and the molding will come loose. Worse yet, the aluminum could undermine the bond, and the windshield will not perform properly in a collision.

We have heard in the past not to use normal polyurethane on an aluminum vehicle due to the possibility of galvanic corrosion. We were told that if normal, conductive carbon black urethane was used on aluminum pinchwelds, the result would be corroded metal. The possibility of galvanic corrosion, along with the diffusion of an electrical circuit, were the two main reasons for the introduction of non-conductive urethanes. Galvanic corrosion, although still an issue, has taken a back seat since the introduction of the aluminum Ford F-150 and the use of normal urethane with non-conductive primers and protective paints.

However, we still need to pay attention to other situations where this type of corrosion may occur. A good example is the Toyota Camry with riveted side moldings. There are plastic grommets inserted in the same holes in which the aluminum rivets are placed and crimped. By removing the rivets, many times the grommets are damaged. Did all of you replace those damaged grommets to prevent the aluminum rivets from making contact with the steel “A” pillar?

Stop and look carefully as you disassemble any vehicle for glass replacement. You will find many more times when there are protective grommets, washers, fasteners and/or retainers that separate the many metals found on the modern-day vehicle. Don’t ignore them. All of them are there for reason, and it is our job to make sure we don’t shorten the life of our customers’ vehicle. Also remember, with the drive to increase fuel efficiency in future cars, that there will be many more lightweight metals used. We, as professionals, have to be observant and act on what we see.

Bob Beranek is the president of Automotive Glass Consultants Inc. 

Do you know what a seatbelt pretentioner is? If so, give yourself a prize. Since I have been training professionally and speaking on the safety system addressed in Federal Motor Vehicle Standard 208, I regularly ask my students this question.  Most people don’t know what it is, or what it’s designed to do.

Many people confuse the pretentioner with the fast-braking belt-locking system. The fast-braking lock is a mechanical device that restricts the slack of the belt in case of a fast stop or brake application. It can be placed at various places within the seatbelt system. It works almost like a pendulum when the brakes are applied aggressively. As the pendulum is forced forward due to the fast stop, it locks into the seatbelt mechanism and restricts the belt from releasing any more slack.

The pretentioner is different, however. The seatbelt pretentioner is a pyrotechnic device that works with the fast braking lock system. The mechanical locking device restricts any more slack, and the pretentioner takes up the slack that is there and pulls the occupant back into the seat. The pretentioner works on the same circuit as the other airbags in the vehicle so that all systems work together.

Some of you may have heard of victims of serious collisions having a burn mark where their seatbelts crossed their torso. That is the pretentioner doing its job of pulling the occupant back toward the seat. You may have a mark for a while, but it can save your life.

When a door glass, vent glass or any tempered part in a vehicle breaks, the glass can go anywhere. If some of the glass chips get into the housing that surrounds the pretentioner, then removal must be done with caution. You should not dig down into the pretentioner housing to retrieve any broken glass.  Tools digging down in the housing could cause damage to the electrical system that triggers the pretentioner.

To clean out the housing:

  • Use a vacuum cleaner to suck out broken glass pieces;
  • Use compressed air to blow out the debris;
  • Manipulate the belt to force out glass chips; and
  • Disassemble the housing and clean out the pieces of glass trapped within. The housing is quite simple to remove, and the results will be cleaner with less chance of malfunction.

My advice is not to ignore the seatbelt area when cleaning up a tempered glass break. It can cause a malfunction of the system and possible injury to the vehicle owner or passenger. Just be careful when working in or around the pyrotechnic pretentioner—the cost and time needed to replace it will most definitely eat into your profits on the job.

Bob Beranek is the president of Automotive Glass Consultants Inc.