by Bob Beranek
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“Shortly after I wrote my last post concerning exterior rearview mirrors, I got a call from one of my I-Car training colleagues asking a question about interior rearview mirrors. His question concerned the portion of the standard which he felt required the mirror be released from the mounting pad by the airbag deployment. I corrected him about the airbag part of his inquiry because the airbag is not in the standard.” —Bob Beranek

It says:

S5.1.2 Mounting. The mirror mounting shall provide a stable support for the mirror and shall provide for mirror adjustment by tilting in both the horizontal and vertical directions. If the mirror is in the head impact area, the mounting shall deflect, collapse or break away without leaving sharp edges when the reflective surface of the mirror is subjected to a force of 400 N in any forward direction that is not more than 45° from the forward longitudinal direction.

The 400 N represents 400 newtons, which is a measurement of force which is close to 90 lbs. (to be exact 89.923577548 lbs.) This means that the interior mirror is required to be released from its mounting by a force of 90 lbs. This is to protect the occupants from injury by the rearview mirror and/or mounting in the case of a collision. The older mirror mounting were so firm that serious injury was caused not by the windshield but by the mirror mounted to the windshield. So vehicle manufacturers had to build their vehicles with “break-away” mirrors since the 2000 model year.

The above are the facts related to interior rearview mirrors according to the Federal Safety Standards, but the reality of true mountings is something that confuses me. As a technician who has removed thousands of supposedly “break-away” mirrors, I find it curious that there are so many mirrors that take special tools, techniques and plain brute force to remove from the pad. There are ¼ turn mirrors, underside clips and others that take a concerted effort to release. Do these mirrors meet the requirement of breaking away by 90 lbs.? Shouldn’t they just pop off with upward or downward pressure of 90 lbs. or more? You would think so, but I fear that the standard isn’t being enforced.

There are still plenty of mirror mountings that do meet the standard. What happened? Did designers and engineers bow to the demands of consumers who complained of loose or vibrating mirrors? What about the federal government standards? Like all government agencies, they are dependent on the funds budgeted. If government doesn’t have the money to hire analysts and auditors to keep track of minor infractions, they depend on corporations to regulate themselves. They may require reports to be filed, along with data to prove the reports, but is the manpower available for follow-up? I believe that like so many other things that fall between the cracks, the rearview mirrors in automobiles are not on the government’s safety radar until serious injury occurs.

What do I believe? I believe that mirror designs work on paper but not in reality. I believe that the government regulators mean well in writing safety standards but don’t do well in enforcing them. I believe that mirrors are supposed to be removed relatively easily, but we still need tools, techniques and brute force to remove them.

So to my friends that suffer through the rearview mirror removal of automotive glass installation, you have my sympathy. I doubt seriously that the mirrors will automatically be easier to remove in the future. On the contrary, I believe that they will be harder to remove because the customers demand for firm mountings and fewer vibrations. But keep you hopes high, we always come through with innovative ways to get the job done.

I saw an interesting recall recently and thought I would pass it your way. It is concerning the Chevrolet Caprice and SS models for the model years 2013-14. The windshield wiper motor is stripping the teeth off the gears causing the wipers not to work. If our customers ignore or fail to get the recall notice shortly after the windshield is replaced, they could place blame on you if the wipers fail to work.

It is important to make copies of this recall notice and distribute it among your technicians so they have the facts in front of them in case the issue arises.

Report Receipt Date: June 27, 2014
NHTSA Campaign Number: 14V375000
Component(s):
Potential Number of Units Affected: 4,794

Vehicle Make, Model, Model Year(s)

·        Chevrolet Caprice 2013-2014

·        Chevrolet SS 2014
Manufacturer: General Motors LLC

Summary:

General Motors LLC (GM) is recalling certain model year 2013-2014 Chevrolet Caprice vehicles manufactured June 7, 2013, to May 29, 2014, and 2014 Chevrolet SS vehicles manufactured September 13, 2013, to March 4, 2014. In the affected vehicles, the windshield wiper motor gear teeth may strip causing the windshield wipers to become inoperative.

Consequence:

Inoperative wipers will not clear rain or snow, reducing the driver’s visibility, increasing the risk of a crash.

Remedy:

GM will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the wiper module assembly and replace any affected ones, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin in early August 2014. Owners may contact Chevrolet customer service at 800/222-1020. GM’s number for this recall is 14295.

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The other day I asked the class I was teaching how they handled outside rearview mirror replacement. Most said they bought pre-cut mirrors, stuck them to the mounting plate in the mirror assembly and then taped it up until the adhesive cured. However, one installer said he used flat stock mirror and cut it to pattern. This really surprised me because I thought cutting mirror stock to pattern was a thing of the past.

I remember instructing my students how to pattern and cut stock mirror to fit mounting plates in the past, but I don’t typically teach that today. Sure, flat stock is slightly cheaper and cutting the part is a convenience to the customer because it can be done immediately rather than ordering and waiting for shipment, but please keep in mind it does not meet Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 111 on the passenger side of the vehicle.

The mirror on the passenger side of the vehicle is required by law be convex and display the words, “Objects in Mirror Seem Closer than They Appear.” As a repair facility we cannot render a safety device inoperative. By changing an outside rearview mirror from convex to flat we are changing a safety device to be ineffective. The driver will not be able to see the blind spots on the passenger side of the vehicle. There is an exception for large, over-the-road, heavy haulers. The rule is that if the mirror has over 19 square inches in surface area, the mirror can be flat stock if the vehicle owner so requests but other than that exception the mirror must be convex.

However, for those of you who still cut mirror stock for the driver side of the vehicle here is the way I used to teach patterning for the part. I learned this from a manager friend named Ed Landerud. The hardest part of cutting the mirror stock to size was to get the pattern right. If it was cut too small, all the profit was lost to scrap stock. If it didn’t fit close to perfectly, the customer complained and a re-cut was in order. So here is how I did it.

1.            Get a white sheet of paper and hold it up to the mounting plate placing one finger in the center to hold it in place.

2.            I then took my other index finger and dragged it on the floor to collect dust or dirt. I used my finger to then outline the pattern on the paper using the edge of the mounting plate. It created an outline by which to estimate the shape and size of the pattern.

3.            I then cut the paper with scissors to create a template that I would use to trace the pattern to the flat stock mirror with a felt tip pen or wax pencil.

4.            The actual pattern would be slightly larger than the actual size due to the depression of the paper during the finger tracing of the plate.

5.            Once the pattern is cut, I would then finish the edging until it fit perfectly.

6.            Here is another word of advice. Some mirror stock will not perform as well as others when adhered to the mounting plate with urethane. Some mirror stock backing will separate from the glass when urethane is used to adhere it. I would suggest using silicone or epoxy when adhering the mirror to the mounting plate.

Obviously, the dirty finger method of pattern making may not be the most professional way of creating a pattern, but it worked well. Now, as then, we have to get the job done, please the customer and do it safely and according to standard and regulation.