by Bob Beranek
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For as long as I can remember, the term pinchweld has been used to describe the part of the vehicle on which we bond the glass. During my many years of training, defining a pinchweld was one of the most important preliminary steps to explaining automotive glass installation.

I speculate that the first use of the term was back in the days when windshields were transitioning from being in a surrounding frame fastened to the body by nuts, bolts and screws, to being attached to a portion of the vehicle that was formed by pinch welding the steel-outer skin to the steel of the vehicle frame. Referring to the “pinchweld” was easier than saying “windshield bonding flange.”

However, the pinchweld is not as easily described as it appears, though most automotive glass technicians know exactly what you are talking about when the term is used in context. So, I thought for the good of history I should attempt to define it completely.

First, the pinchweld is a term with a couple of parts to it. The floor of the pinchweld is the part that we bond the glass to or wrap the gasket around. It is, also, obviously where the term gets its name. It is here where the actual weld is formed. The wall of the pinchweld is the part that was used to attach clips so mouldings could be attached in the past. More recently the wall of the pinchweld is exposed for appearance and economic reasons.

Microsoft Word - Pinchwelds Defined

There are also different types of pinchwelds. The “L” shaped pinchwelds are the most common and have been used on all sides of the window opening. The “flat” pinchweld is primarily used on the “A” pillar but has been used on the top pinchweld on convertibles. The “Z” pinchweld is exclusively used on the lower pinchweld and consists of the steel portion of the dashboard, the bonding portion of the frame and the upper portion of the firewall/cowl drain.

Microsoft Word - Pinchwelds Defined

So here is the true meaning of the term “pinchweld” as used by the automotive glass professional. For those out there who are learning or researching the trade, now you know what we are talking about when we say, prepping the pinchweld for bonding. For those who have been referring to pinchwelds your whole career, now you know the differences between the different pinchwelds and their parts.

A friend recently ran into an issue with a fully loaded 2014 Grand Cherokee with a rain sensor. He reported that after the new windshield was installed, the wiper swiped once every time the vehicle was started, and that when it rained the wiper did not change frequency and/or speed. His team had worked on several of these vehicles in the past and did not have a similar incident.

They took the vehicle to the dealer, where the dealer checked several on-lot vehicles and found that none of them had the same issue. The dealer contacted Chrysler Technical Services and discovered that the system needed resetting.

My friend told me by email, “In the scan tool there was an option asking if the RS had been removed or replaced. (By the way: I don’t think our auto glass tech unplugged it, rather he un-clipped it from the bracket on the windshield and left it hang.)  When ‘yes’ was selected the scan tool the system began resetting door locks, electro mirror, adaptive cruise and many other functions, including the ‘rain sensing windshield.’ After that was complete, the wipers performed normally.”

The charge for this service is about $50 to $75 per reset. The reset covers similarly-equipped vehicles from 2013 and up.

The unclear point in this story is that others have not had a similar problem when the glass was replaced. The tech in this case did not disconnect the rain sensor so interruption of the electrical circuit is not the cause.

My theory is that any Chrysler vehicle with multiple Advanced Driver Assist Systems (ADAS) included in its features, requires this reset/recalibration. I think that all ADAS circuits are interrelated and need rebooting. I would be interested to hear from those that have had a similar experience and how they handled it.

Since I returned from the Auto Glass Week™, I keep thinking about the seminars given on Advanced Driver Assist Systems (ADAS). Although I have addressed this subject in the past, it is becoming obvious that the questions are not going away. ADAS will continue to be a problem until we know what to do for ourselves and our customers. This technology is so new that many dealerships don’t know what to do.

Question 1:

Is it necessary for the glass repair company to take control of the vehicle until the recalibration is completed?

That would be great if we all had the car dealer we needed across the street. But, how about all of the others that are miles from the nearest dealer? Do we rent a car for the customer? Who pays for that? If we do take it to the local dealer, does he have the equipment and know how to get the recalibration done?

Question 2:

Do we have the customer sign-off on the replacement and send them to their dealer for recalibration?

That is great if we can be assured they will do it and we are free from liability. This is a question for your attorney to answer. What if the customer does not follow your directive? What if they drive the car and it seems okay so they don’t take it in? What if they get into a head-on collision because they crossed the centerline and were not warned. Who is at fault then?

Question 3:

What about independent calibrators?

There is a company that does independent calibrations in Minneapolis, but I don’t know if there are others. The cost of a separate business for recalibrations can cost tens of thousands of dollars to start and tens of thousands of dollars to keep current with the copyright licenses and software. It is a business not many entrepreneurs are jumping at.

Question 4:

So, what do we do?

This is a question that each shop owner needs to answer for himself. I still think that this issue will right itself with time. Technology will either become self-calibrating or directives will become friendlier to businesses and the consumers. One bright note that came up at the show was that Mercedes just introduced one of their models with a self-calibrating system. This, I hope, signifies hope for the future of self-calibrating vehicles.

However, in the meantime, I think it would be wise for all of us to re-introduce ourselves to our local car dealers. Build relationships that are equally educational to both of you. Sit down and discuss this issue. How can we help each other? What needs to be done to please our mutual customer? What are the costs of recalibration in both time and procedure? Is OEM glass required or does the calibration account for slight changes in the glass? Who pays for this and how?

I know that this whole blog is nothing but questions, but that is all we have right now. It is up to us to be proactive instead of reactive and go out and find the answers. It will take sitting down with your attorney and discussing the liabilities you are willing to accept or reject. It will take local effort and shoe-leather to get answers that will work for you and your customers.

Stay tuned. I will keep you updated and pass on discoveries as I go. However, the first thing you will have to do is to make close friends of your local and regional dealers. Dealership relationships are the key to your success.

Oh, by the way, let me know what you find out so I can pass the word. Good Luck!