by Bob Beranek
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I got a call from my friend Gene Nichols at Richardson Glass Service in Newark, Ohio, last week concerning a problem with a windshield installation on a 2014 Dodge Durango. After the installation, the customer complained of a buzzing noise when the vehicle was driven at 65 mph or higher.

My first thought was that the noise complaints were from an exposed-edge glass, which is very common on Chrysler vehicles. However, I have never heard the term “buzzing” before when describing noise complaints. I asked Gene to let me know what he discovers.

Gene sent out his crack Auto Glass Safety Council Certified Technician, James Chapman, to investigate the problem and perform the fix for the customer. James took a look and went for a test drive to find that the cowl panel had warped in several locations.

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Gene, being an investigator himself, wanted to find out if the original technician had somehow caused the distortion when he removed the cowl. He searched the Internet and found that this is not an unusual problem with this vehicle. It is simply an inherent problem with that cowl panel and was not caused by anything his installer did. They tried various fixes, such as double-faced tape and butyl tape, but nothing seemed to be strong enough to hold down the panel flush to the windshield’s surface.

Gene and James visited the customer again, took off the wipers and cowl panel and warmed the plastic panel between the built-in clip towers with a heat gun. They continued to heat it while smoothing out the distortion and reshaping it to normal. After reinstalling the cowl panel and wipers, the cowl fit flush and smooth to the glass surface. They then test drove the vehicle to confirm that the noise was gone.

Proof positive that a little innovation goes a long way and it is much cheaper than a $200 cowl panel replacement. Gene’s advice is to make sure that your tool box includes a heat gun.

While conducting a course the other week I showed ABC’s 20/20 video from 2002 that most of us have seen many times. I had the opportunity to be a technical advisor on that segment and I believe there are three main take away points from that video. They are that primers must be used if they are required; safe-drive-away times must be accurately communicated to the customer; and that installers must wear gloves when handling the glass.

Obviously, the technicians shown in the video were not adequately trained and/or supervised. However, I saw another mistake that all three installers made, the issue of which was not used in the finished video’s narrative. All of them used the “wipers up” installation method. Check it out the video by clicking here.

The wipers-up Installation method is the failure to pull or displace the cowl during the windshield installation. Installers can be tempted to do it because, by not removing the wipers and cowl panel, it saves time. However, those who employ this method must then tuck the glass under the cowl and into the adhesive bead. This is wrong. The cowl panel has to be removed or displaced adequately so that the windshield is placed onto the bead of adhesive and not into the bead of adhesive. There is no way a windshield can be bonded adequately to withstand an airbag deployment or a body thrown into it when the lower bead is not completely solid. And, there is no way that a lower bead can be solid to the glass when it is tucked under a firmly attached cowl panel.

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I hope by now that most technicians understand the dangers of tucking a windshield versus removing the cowl. For the life of me, I do not understand why an installer would advertise the fact that they are shortcutting an installation and possibly endangering their customer. “Look everyone; I’m lifting the wipers so I can do this installation unsafely for my customer. Call me for all your automotive glass installation needs?” Yet, I drive up and down streets all over this continent and see automotive glass technicians giving the wiper-up salute. Is a few minutes saved worth the possible injury to your customers?

The other reason I thought of writing this post is a recall I saw on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Office of Defects list. It concerns the wipers on a few models of the Newmar RVs. Here is the notice for that recall. If you are a shop that does a fair share of recreation vehicles, you may want to make note of this recall and inform your customers of the issue.

Report Receipt Date: MARCH 16, 2015

NHTSA Campaign Number: 15V149000

Component(s): VISIBILITY

Potential Number of Units Affected: 153

Vehicle Make, Model, Model Year(s)

  • NEWMAR ESSEX 2014-2015
  • NEWMAR KING AIRE 2014-2015
  • NEWMAR LONDON AIRE 2014-2015
  • NEWMAR MOUNTAIN AIRE 2014-2015

Manufacturer: Newmar Corp.

SUMMARY:

Newmar Corporation (Newmar) is recalling certain model year 2014-2015 King Aire, Essex, London Aire, and Mountain Aire motor homes manufactured November 26, 2013, to November 11, 2014. The wiper blades may separate from the wiper arm connectors, especially when the wipers are used at the high speed setting.

CONSEQUENCE:

If the wiper blades separate from the wiper arms, the driver may have reduced visibility, increasing the risk of a crash.

REMEDY:

The remedy for this recall is still under development. The manufacturer has not yet provided a notification schedule. Owners may contact Newmar customer service at (800)731-8300.

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.

I read a quote in the newspaper recently that I thought was rather interesting. Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla Motors, made a statement concerning the introduction of driverless vehicles. He said that driving cars may become outlawed in the future because having a human behind the wheel is just too dangerous. Of course, he is developing a driverless car that he says will be available by 2023.

Mr. Musk is a true futurist, with possibly more insight than I. Imagine that you get in your car in the driveway, push a button for a destination that is common for you, pour a cup of coffee, lean back and watch the news on the dashboard TV screen and a few minutes later you reach your destination without incident and perfectly safe. That would be cool.

However, this is one technology that, while certainly cool, I hope will never become mandated. Imagine never again being able to turn the key or push the start button, listen to the engine roar, feel the power under your feet and manipulate through traffic. You would miss the control you have of a two-ton machine in your hands as it speeds down the highway. Let’s face it; what you will miss is the art of driving.

Without a doubt though, the driverless car is here and it won’t go away. An auto-piloted vehicle will be common place in a few decades for exactly the reason Mr. Musk voiced above. Automakers started this technological transition with the automatic transmission and moved to cruise control. We now have cars that park themselves, brake for us, give us back-up cameras and show us the way with heads-up-display and GPS. In the very near future, the automated vehicles will read street signs, help you back-in and pull out of a parking space and make the cabin smell nice with a fragrance atomizer.

My wife, Ann, was reading the other day of a car thief who was thwarted because of a standard transmission. The (would be) crook carjacked a vehicle at gunpoint, but when trying to drive away he discovered the car had a stick shift that he didn’t know how to operate. The police caught him as he was running around the parking lot looking for a different car to steal. I have read articles that claim stick-shift vehicles are a theft deterrent much like an alarm might be. This could be something to consider for us old-school drivers out there.

I have a 2000 Audi A6, with a six-speed standard transmission and dual turbo. It is my baby and I take good care of it. In the future maybe I won’t need to lock it. I’m reasonably sure it won’t be stolen, not because of its looks (racing red with ivory leather interior), but because most of the thieves out there won’t be able to drive it. What will happen years from now when the young adults of the future will not know how to park, steer, or brake a vehicle because they never had to?

Now, I suppose you’re wondering what this has to do with automotive glass. When vehicles begin to drive themselves and driverless cars populate more and more of the highway, will glass breakage fall dramatically? One of the biggest causes of glass breakage are rocks being thrown at high speed from the vehicle in front of you. Will cars be programmed to follow further behind the car in front of them, eliminating tailgating and reducing glass breakage?

I’m not too worried about this one. I think that it is probable that cars will be programmed to follow closely, because vehicle automated systems are more reactive to its surroundings. Increased traffic in the future dictates more tightly-spaced traffic. There is no need to worry about the reaction time of the driver in front or behind you because the automated vehicle will react to the slightest movement it senses. Thus, the automated vehicles may literally be right on your bumper and everyone is still perfectly safe. Now, if they come up with a way to pave roadways with no rocks or potholes, then we are in trouble.