by Bob Beranek
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Even robots have bad days. My son Jay recently reported that he has seen an increase in poorly applied OE urethane beads on General Motors vehicles. He noted OE beads on a variety of new cars and trucks, irrespective of part number or model, have lately been inconsistent and in some cases missing inches of product.

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We have all seen some OE issues with urethane beads. Some have been over lapped sloppily and caused a channel for air or water to penetrate. Some had the bead not touch the glass surface. Some have been so thin that it was a wonder that it held the glass or sealed at all, or there was a small gap where the robot ran out of urethane. However, this is the first time I have heard of leaks from the OE where the bead was non-existent, where gaps were inches long. It is also the first time that I have seen this so wide spread across the entire line of vehicles and all glass parts.

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This is not an installation concern because we will notice it and correct it immediately. As automotive glass technicians we recognize the error and correct the deficiency and move on. However, as a consumer, it does concern me that the quality of workmanship in bonding a safety device is so lax. It does concern me that the quality of workmanship, or robot programming, is such that a bead of urethane can be applied and the glass is set in place with gaps the size of a hot dog can pass inspection and be offered for sale.

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We are living in an era of automated manufacturing. What does that mean? It means that machines make our products. The problem with machines is that they do only what they are told to do, no more no less. If a machine is told to pump urethane onto a piece of glass, then the machine will pump urethane onto the glass until told differently. If the urethane consistency is not right, the glass part is not in proper position, or the urethane supply is empty, the machine will still pump. If the machine is told to set the glass into the opening, it will set the glass into the opening whether there is adhesive applied or not. Is there a person to check and make sure the machines are doing their jobs, or are the inspectors thought of as a dispensable cost? We know the effort it takes to check our bead once the glass is installed. It takes contorting our bodies to look up behind the headliner or moldings and use our flashlights to see if the seal has been made. How many automated car manufacturers do that?

The same can be said for automotive glass manufacturers. Are there inspectors to make sure that the glass has the right curvature or dimensions? Some manufacturers employ numerous quality control inspectors along the manufacturing line to make sure things are going correctly. Other manufacturers don’t. When a problem arises with the automated systems there needs to be someone there to make adjustments.

Have you seen this in the field? Contact me at bob@autoglassconsultants.com if you’d like to add to the discussion.    

Please, don’t get me wrong. There is a place for automated systems for both efficiency and quality, but nothing beats a good pair of eyes, an analytical mind and a strong pair of hands to make adjustments when they are needed. It’s just the way I see it.

I just got back from the Auto Glass Safety Council’s Winter Meetings in wet and cool Florida just in time to shovel out our driveway from six inches of snow. What a winter!

As promised, I want to report on a few issues that were discussed in the Standards Committee meeting and around the water cooler. In addition, I’d like your help with a couple issues that have come up recently.

1. Procedures for Pinchweld Preparation: In my last post we discussed the proper procedures for preparing the existing bead after the glass was removed with a new wire-out tool. Jeff Olive of Glasspro approached some adhesive representatives before our meetings and got their recommendations concerning this issue. They all said the same thing, trim back to 1-2mm and bond accordingly. Trimming the existing bead back assures the removal of any contaminants and makes the bonding surface even and acceptable for fresh urethane.

2. Salvaged/Used Glass: Though this is not a new issue, it was again brought up for discussion because there has been a push by the insurance industry to use salvaged glass in repaired vehicles. The committee spent a considerable amount of time discussing the matter and reviewing our original interpretation. The committee found that our Standard and the interpretation we originally published are still relevant and correct as it pertains to consumer safety.

Here are some new glass issues that I thought I would bring to the attention of the experts in the field, my readers.

1. There has been a rash of glass breakage recently when re-installing the rearview mirror to the mirror pads. Reportedly, this is happening on a variety of glass brands but most recently on Kia Rios, Chrysler 300 and Chargers. The reporter said that the mirror pad seemed tight to the glass without any cushioning. If any of you have heard or experienced this issue, please contact me, your glass distributor or manufacturer. I suspect that it could be caused by an aftermarket mirror pad adhesive but I want to hear more before I jump to any conclusions.

2. There has been a report of an audible ticking sound occurring on recent models of General Motors SUVs. The glass has never been changed but the ticking sounds like it comes from the dash or interior “A” pillar molding. When the glass is removed to fix the noise complaint, there is no indication of a problem. Once the windshield is re-installed, the noise is never heard again. I contacted my glass expert friends both here and overseas and they seemed to agree on the cause. It is not the glass but the glass mounting. The glass is sitting too low and is making contact with the plastic interior parts. When the temperature changes the glass will contract or expand thus causing the glass to rub or snap from the warmed plastic. To fix, use a rubber or plastic shim and force it between the glass and the dashboard or molding. You can R&I the windshield as well, but then you run a much greater risk of breaking the glass.

3. Dan Boehmer of Rolladeck and a past Auto Glass Week™ Technician Olympian contacted me about the 2011 Volvo XC60 windshields. He said that the OE and any dealer pre-primed windshield on this vehicle have a primer failure problem. The DOT number on the vehicle is 32, which is St. Gobain. There is a video on YouTube that illustrates the issue. Evidently, the primer applied along the top at the factory is deficient and peels right off with your fingers. If you have experienced this problem, please contact me as soon as possible so the vehicle and glass manufacturer can be contacted and informed of the problem.

Comment on this post, email me at bob@autoglassconsultants.com or call me at 800/695-5418.

The technicians in the field are the eyes and voices of the industry. Without you informing us of what you see, hear and experience we cannot protect the consumers from improper installation or manufacturing defects. Thank you all for your input and professionalism. Keep it up.

There was an interesting discussion recently that I thought I would bring up for readers to debate. The discussion is about the condition of the existing urethane bead once the glass is removed by the new wire-out tools. It seems that there is a belief that the bead is already trimmed to the proper height due to the design of the wire-out tools and that additional stripping is unnecessary. Also, there is some concern regarding the rough condition of the urethane bead when the new cord is used in the cut out. This brings to mind two questions.

Does the existing urethane bead need to be trimmed down or is the bead height adequate for bonding immediately?

What is the ideal surface for urethane bonding to itself, smooth or rough?

One of the selling points of the wire-out tool is that the existing urethane bead is cut closer to the pinchweld surface. This allows the technician to save time by not having to trim back the urethane bead for bonding. The directions given by adhesive manufacturers have been to trim back to 1-2 mm or 1/16” of the existing adhesive bead. The amount of bead left by the wire out tool depends on the design of the tool. The closer the wire is to the interior glass surface the closer the cut will be to the pinchweld. You will need to trim it back if there is more existing bead left by your particular tool. Remember that the 1-2 mm guideline is there for a reason and must be met as close as possible to the recommendation by the adhesive manufacturers.

There are basically two types of cut out material for the new wire-out tools, the wire or the cord. The wire cuts out the glass and leaves a smooth surface on the existing urethane bead. The cord usually leaves a rough surface. The smooth surface left by the wire is not a concern because we have been bonding to that type of smooth surface ever since we started to use urethane. The question that needs to be answered is what should be done with the rough surface left by the cord to promote adhesion?