by Bob Beranek
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Pre-inspection is one of the most important steps in a successful installation. It can mean the difference between good and bad customer relations as well as a safe or unsafe installation. The experienced technician not only looks at the inspection as creating a level playing field but also as an indication of how the installation is to proceed or if it can be done at all. It is also an opportunity to build a positive rapport with the customer.

All technicians know that they should complete a pre-inspection but many do not like to do it because they feel pointing out the defects on the vehicle will upset the customer and make them angry for being picky. If the tech does a pre-inspection the wrong way, yes, they will become agitated. That is why I suggest that the pre-inspection become an explanation of the installation process and the Pre-inspection Form become an Authorization Form.

Instead of pointing out every ding and scratch, rub your hands over the damage. The customer’s eyes will be attracted to your hand which means that they know you noticed the damage and you know that they saw it and no words were spoken. Instead of making a statement like, “there is a dent here and a scratch here,” ask a question or make a lighthearted statement to get you point across.

Items to look for are:

—Dents and scratches in the work area. Concentrate on the passenger side of the vehicle. The passenger side is the least noticed side of the vehicle, yet the most susceptible to damage.

—Early signs of corrosion. If corrosion is visible before mouldings are removed, it is an indication that there is more corrosion present under the glass or moulding. It may be necessary to discuss bodywork or the possibility of denying the installation entirely.

—Moulding fit. If the moulding is not fitting flush to the body or glass, it could indicate a previous installation or other hidden problems. This also should be discussed with the customer.

—Missing or damaged parts. This also can indicate a previous installation. It could mean the installation may take longer to complete to the customer’s satisfaction.

—Aftermarket paint jobs. Usually appears as “orange peel” texture, improper color matching or over spray on mouldings. This can indicate previous bodywork. This may cause problems with glass fit or paint pealing by removal of the moulding or protective tape.

—Interior stains or damage. Check the seats, floor, headliner and interior garnish mouldings. Some stains may indicate a leak that should be addressed before work begins. While others can mean that some exterior parts may be loose or misplaced causing water or air seepage.

—Electronic and mechanical items. These include; wipers, washers, radio, lights, window regulators, power door locks, rain/light sensors, remote start, etc. Make sure all mechanicals are in working order before beginning work or inoperable mechanicals are discussed with the owner.

It is always a good idea to inspect the vehicle in the customer’s presence. But if this is impossible an Authorization Form will help in making the inspection more professional. Complete the form and leave it for the customers along with their copy of the work order. The other option is to take pictures and electronically send them to the customer or attach them to the work order or invoice.

True to my habit of informing my readers of pertinent recalls, Toyota announced the recall for the 2012-13 Avalon, Venza and Camry models. The recall concerns the airbag system in its relation to the air-conditioning condenser. I have included the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recall announcement for you perusal.

Please make sure that you warn your customers of the ramifications of not following the recall instructions.

Manufacturer: Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing

Summary:

Toyota is recalling certain model year 2012-2013 Avalon, Avalon HV, Venza, Camry and Camry HV vehicles. In the affected vehicles, the drain hose for the air conditioning condenser may become clogged causing water to accumulate at the bottom of the air conditioning condenser unit housing. The accumulated water may then leak through a seam in the housing onto the air bag control module potentially resulting in a short circuit of the module.

Consequence:

A short circuit may cause the air bags to become disabled or inadvertently deploy. An inadvertent airbag deployment can increase the risk of injury or the possibility of a crash. An inoperative airbag can increase the risk of injury in a severe crash. The power steering assist could also become inoperable resulting in increased steering effort and can increase the risk of a crash at low speeds.

Remedy:

Toyota will notify owners, and dealers will seal the air conditioning condenser unit housing, and install a protective cover on the airbag control module, free of charge. The manufacturer has not yet provided a notification schedule. Owners may contact Toyota at 800/331-4331.

Notes:

Owners may also contact the NHTSA Vehicle Safety Hotline at 888/327-4236 (TTY 800/424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov.

I am frequently asked about the Auto Glass Olympic competition, “Do you have any tips that can put me over the top?” Winners are those that compete the same way as they install every day. The enemy of every competitor is nervousness and that is completely understandable considering the venue. I think that is why most winners come from past losers. The nervousness subsides a little and they realize that it is no different than doing a job in front of the car owner. It is true that the judges are more knowledgeable than the average consumer, but the competitors are good and they know what they’re doing. However, even the best of us, under pressure, can make mistakes.

That being said, here are some tips that may help.

—Ask questions during the mandatory orientation meeting.

—Concentrate on the important points and don’t worry about the minor ones. We mark off big for mistakes related to consumer or technician safety and vehicle protection.

—Make sure you know the bonding procedures for your adhesives backward, forward and inside out.

—Keep contamination always on your mind.

—Keep track of drying times for your primers. However, don’t lose time waiting for primed areas where it doesn’t matter. If the scratch is outside the bonding area, then waiting for it to dry is unnecessary.

—Use only lubricants recommended by your adhesive company. Water is always best.

—Wipe off debris and standing excess water/lubricant as soon as possible. Urethane can absorb moisture and hinder bonding if it is not allowed to dry thoroughly.

—Dampen towels and never wet a surface to clean it. See above.

—Look very carefully for scratches on the pinchweld. We do not mark down for scratched paint but we do mark down if the scratches aren’t covered.

—One should never stand around doing nothing. If a mistake is made and you have to go back to correct it, do something else while waiting.

Sometimes the obvious is the best course of action. Jeff Olive won his first competition because he did the obvious and everyone else thought they had to do the most difficult.

Remove or displace the interior garnish moldings unless the molding clips are a “one-use-only” type. However, we will take into consideration the tools used and the mastery of those tools.

Do not use tools you are unfamiliar with or haven’t mastered. If you struggle with a tool or you seem uneasy, a judge will mark down for lack of tool mastery.

Don’t waste time in the pre-inspection. Build a relationship with the proctor, but don’t forget that the vehicle is usually brand new. A thorough pre-inspection should not take more than 5-10 minutes max, less if possible.

Don’t forget the paperwork and handouts.

The biggest advice I can give is to relax and do the job. If during the competition you fall short, don’t give up. There is no shame in not winning. Learn from your mistakes and just have fun.