by Bob Beranek
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I’d like to thank John McGee and my friends at Binswanger Glass for sending me a notice of recall from Ford Motor Co. about the 2014 Transit Cargo Van, assembled in Spain. The interesting thing about this vehicle is that the panel our industry is asked to help fix is not made of glass, but of polycarbonate.

According to safety recall 14S26 issued by Ford on December 10, 2014:

“Some of the affected vehicles, which are equipped with sliding door plastic panels, may have improper bond strength between the plastic panels and the paint primer. Plastic panels with improper bond strength may result in noise, water leak, or separation of the plastic panels from the vehicle while driving, potentially increasing the risk of an accident or injury.”

Obviously, there has been a problem with plastic to metal bonding ever since urethane was introduced as an automotive adhesive. Urethane does not adhere aggressively to plastic unless extraordinary products or procedures are introduced to the process of bonding. This recall proves that fact once again.

Many of the new cargo vehicles like the Transit or Sprinter start as a blank slate, easily adapted to a customer’s particular needs. You want a people mover? Remove the panels, put in glass, insulate and panel the walls, put in multiple seating units and add environment systems like A/C and heating. Need a mobile shop? Keep the panels in place, add an energy source, build in tool boxes and supply drawers and you’re all set. I have seen Sprinter dealers who adapted Dodge Sprinters into Mercedes and Peterbilt Sprinters simply by changing the grills and hoods. These vehicles are designed to be adaptable. It is no wonder that Ford designed a vehicle that has removable panels for ease of customization.

The service action on this recall states the following:

 “Before demonstrating or delivering any of the vehicles involved in this recall, dealers are to remove and reinstall the sliding door plastic panel(s) using proper materials and procedures. This service must be performed on all affected vehicles at no charge to the vehicle owner.

Here is the interesting part.

NOTE: This repair may be sublet to a professional glass repair facility in accordance with the Warranty & Policy Manual.

Thank you, Ford, for steering some work our way. We will gladly take up the responsibility and get it done right. So, for the sake of quality control and ease of repair, I have included the Ford instructions for repair. I am researching additional information on this recall and will include the findings in future posts, but I felt that this recall announcement must be made known as soon as possible so the safety issues can be addressed.

I am unsure at this time who serves as the OE adhesive supplier is for this vehicle, considering it is assembled in Spain, or if the instructions allow for other adhesive products to be used. In the meantime, to protect from liability and to make sure compatibility issues are met, I suggest that when this repair is contracted, obtain the OE adhesive kit from the dealer or manufacturer and follow the instructions exactly the way they are written.

Certain 2014 Model- Year Transit Connect Cargo Van Vehicle:

Sliding Door Plastic Panels

Overview

The removal and installation procedure for the sliding door plastic panels is similar to fixed glass (windshield) replacement. This repair is being performed to resolve potential improper bond strength that may exist between the sliding door plastic panels and the paint primer. The following procedure must be performed on both right and left side panels, if equipped. Use only the approved primer and adhesive materials listed in Attachment II of the bulletin.

Service Procedure

  1. Remove the plastic panel. Please follow Workshop Manual (WSM) procedures in Section 501-11,

General Procedures – Fixed Glass. (See Figure 1)

Note: The plastic panel is removed in the same manner as fixed glass.

This is the sliding door plastic panel.

Figure 1: This is the sliding door plastic panel (1466B).

  1. Remove the remaining urethane from both the sliding door pinch weld and the sliding door plastic panel using a suitable knife by hand.

Note: As instructed in the WSM, be sure to leave a 1mm to 2mm (0.04 in to 0.08 in) urethane base on the sliding door pinch weld.

Note: If the paint layer was damaged on the body pinch weld surface, be sure to restore protection as specified in the WSM procedure in Section 501-11.

Note: To provide proper adhesion, all paint and old urethane must be removed from the urethane bead path on the plastic panel prior to applying new black primer and new urethane adhesive.

  1. Remove remaining urethane from sliding door plastic panel using a wire-cup air-powered rotary tool.

Remove both urethane and paint along the adhesive path only to a maximum width of 20mm (0.78 in) and a maximum of 0.2mm (0.007 in) depression into the original surface of the plastic panel. Use care not to remove paint or damage the panel in the area visible when reinstalled. (See Figure 2)

Another look at the sliding door plastic panel. (1466B)

Figure 2: Another look at the sliding door plastic panel. (1466C)

  1. Clean and remove dust from grinding using a clean dry cloth. Apply black primer to the bead path on the sliding door plastic panel and allow to cure according to the manufacturer’s specifications.
A final look at the sliding door plastic panel. (1466A)

Figure 3: A final look at the sliding door plastic panel. (1466A)

 

  1. Install the plastic panel using the approved adhesive specified in the parts section of Attachment II of the bulletin. Please follow WSM procedures in Section 501-11, General Procedures – Fixed Glass

During my years in the automotive glass industry I have personally done thousands of windshield repairs using dozens of different kits. I have helped in developing windshield repair kits. I have done repairs in every environmental condition possible, from extreme cold to extreme heat, and from dry to wet weather, including rain or snow. I have done repairs on every kind of laminated glass, from basic to glass with state-of-the-art technology. I’ve had successes and failures. However, there are people in this industry who have done far more research and sophisticated testing on the process of windshield repair than I have.

Over the four plus decades since windshield repair was invented, there has been many changes in how windshield repairs are perceived, sold and the service is delivered. Some of the perceptions of what windshield repair is and what it does are correct, some are plain wrong and other perceptions are more in the “grey area.” Windshield repair as a service could develop the reputation of being a scam if the consumers who buy it and the technicians who provide it are not better educated.

In most cases, chip repair is sold by legitimate and honest entrepreneurs out to provide a valuable service. However, in some cases, it is sold by crooks out to defraud insurance companies or by technicians who simply don’t know what they’re doing. The service of chip repair can be delivered by “repair only” companies that don’t get paid unless the job is done perfectly, by automotive glass companies that use it as a loss leader to sell more windshields and by less-than-reputable companies that trick the consumer into repairs that don’t even exist.

I have come to the realization recently that though I don’t have all the new facts available, I wish to find them. Are there definitive answers to the questions asked by consumers and technicians?

  • Does a proper repair restore the structural integrity of a new windshield?
  • Are there any windshields that are not repairable? What are they? How did you determine that?
  • What conditions will make a repair unsuccessful or less successful?
  • Can a repair be done in the rain or snow? How do you dry out a chip so it can be repaired?
  • If drilling is done, how deep do you drill?
  • How long is too long for a crack repair?

The Repair of Laminated Automotive Glass Standard (ROLAGS) is very informative, easily understood by a technician and it answers some of the questions above, yet it does not answer all questions a person might have concerning specifics of windshield repair. For example:

  • A technician called me concerning the repair of a heated windshield with a metallic heating element embedded in the lamination (Land Rover). The vehicle dealer says no problem with repairing this windshield, a previous repairer agreed, no problem. The industry standard does not address the issue. Upon further research, however, reports tell of the heating element not working in the repaired area and a glass manufacturer warned of electrical arching at the repaired area and recommended against repair of heated windshields.

So, what is correct and what is the right thing to do? Who do we listen to and where are the facts to back it up? Who is liable if the windshield breaks again, or the heating element no longer works or if someone is hurt due to improper repair?

I believe in windshield repair as a viable service to the consuming public. If done correctly, it restores clearer visibility to the driver of the vehicle and thus provides more safety to the occupants. However, as a teacher, I need facts that can be proven and relied on. I need answers from the people that know.

In the next few posts, I want to open up a discussion of what is and what is not correct about windshield repair. I want to hear from repair experts, glass experts and those that provide supplies and equipment to the industry.

Professionals and experts, please respond to this request either publicly through this blog or if you prefer, privately by calling me at 800-695-5418 or email bob@autoglassconsultants.com. Help us understand your business and service.

I am very pleased that not only did the holidays fall in such a way as to give me some much needed time off, but it also gave me a chance to listen to all of the 2014 laments and the 2015 predictions. Trade and industry pundits are calling for an economic upturn that may be a record breaker.

With news like that, how can you be negative?

Well, if you know me, you know that I always check things out before I make rash claims and statements of fact. So, I did some research. According to economic forecasters here, the Gross National Product (GNP) of the United States is predicted to have healthy growth in 2015 and even better in 2016. This is a website I like because it gives me access to statistics from a wide variety of sources.

The growth of the U.S. economy means more money in the hands of our customers. Will that in turn mean that consumers will finally get the windshield replaced they’ve been putting off for the past few years? We certainly hope so.

Great! You may say, that will get the automotive glass industry back to normal. What about the future growth?

According to J.D. Power and Associates, as reported by CNBC.com, auto sales for 2015 are predicted to break all records and reach 13.83 million units. History tells us that when new car sales increase, automotive glass replacements also increase. Add to that the lowest prices in fuel since 2008, which encourages more miles driven, and this is a recipe for growth that cannot be ignored.

All we need is to have the federal and state government increase their infrastructure budget for road construction and repaving and we can plan our vacations in exotic far off lands. Of course, if the legislature can’t agree on their infrastructure budget, roads will remain in bad repair and unpaved, resulting in more broken windshields. That’s what I call a win-win for our industry.

Next question, are you ready for this growth?

Do you have all your ducks in a row? Are your technicians hired and trained? Do you have tools and supplies ready for the increase in business? Is your support staff ready to supply the best customer service possible?  Now is the time to prepare for the upcoming busy season while the seasonal slowdown is at hand. Buy those tools and increase productivity. Schedule, develop and facilitate the training you’ll need so you are fully prepared and ready to go. Plan your marketing strategy so you speak louder than your competition. Negotiate your best deals and take advantage of opportunities while they are still there. Your goal for 2015 and the future should be being more proactive and less reactive. That is the true recipe for success.