by Bob Beranek
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The acronym ADAS stands for Advanced Driver Assistance Systems and you will hear about it a lot in the near future. I first heard the term last year at Auto Glass Week™ in Baltimore. Glen Moses of Safelite brought it up at our Auto Glass Safety Council Standards Committee meeting.

The word “advanced” in the title differentiates some of the new driver assist systems from others (like power brakes, power steering and anti-lock brakes) that we’ve had for years. The systems we are talking about are the lane departure systems (LDS), the lane keeping assist (LKA), forward collision alert/collision warning system, adaptive cruise control and to a lesser extent the road sign information system.

On this blog over the last year we have discussed the many trials and tribulations of lane departure systems. We have discussed recalibration, the safety issue and whether the glass must be OEM or not. I have, in other venues, discussed and advised on what to do when recalibration is necessary and circumstances do not allow for convenient completion of the work. However, with the popularity of these advanced systems being included in even the most common of vehicles, new issues will continue to arise that will need to be addressed, and quickly.

Many of the concerns surrounding these developments hinge on the insurance industries’ acceptance of the added installation issues. Who pays for the recalibration? Who pays for the OEM glass required by the vehicle manufacturers? Who is going to ultimately pay for the customers’ inconvenience? Who compensates us for the added effort and time expended in explanation, verification, authorization and installation?

Every insurance company has their own policy language to define what is paid for and what is not. However, special authorizations are sometimes granted when you ask for them. Don’t just assume an insurance company won’t pay. Ask for authorizations that keep your joint customers safe, at least until we can learn the variables of these installations and have developed a standard of common place and acceptable procedures.

Many of you use aftermarket replacement glass (ARG) or original equipment equivalent (OEE) glass that poses a problem when taken to the dealer for recalibration. The dealer may refuse to recalibrate or advise the customer that recalibration would not have been necessary if OEM glass was used. On some vehicles, like Mercedes and Honda, we know that even if an OEM part is used, it needs to be recalibrated anyway. However, depending on the system used, there could be some instances where OEM glass is important to the operation of the system.

How do we deal with this? I suggest talking to your local dealerships. Find out what they believe is true and what they are required to do. Determine the price and time necessary to complete the calibration. Will it be better for you to pay the fee due to price breaks and insurance requirements, or is it better to have the dealer handle it completely for ease and for liability protection? Determine if a friendly dealership can calibrate different brands of vehicles for simplicity. I have heard that some Goodyear Service Centers have the ability to calibrate some systems that would also give you some options. Look for a calibrating service in your area. This type of mobile service is growing and there may be one in your immediate area that can come to you.

The Standards Committee of the Auto Glass Safety Council, with the help of Mitch Becker of ABRA Auto Body & Glass and I-Car, will attack this issue strongly at our next meeting in California in March. If we can come to a consensus, we will include language in our standard to address the questions raised by these systems. This action may inspire the insurance industry to recognize the necessity of recalibration and include language in the policy that compensates for the extra effort expended, or the OE glass we need to now purchase. Maybe we can convince insurance companies that safety truly doesn’t have a price tag.

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.