by Bob Beranek
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Modern day wire-out tools are becoming more necessary with every new vehicle introduction.

Government standards now mandate an average fuel economy of 54.5 miles per gallon for the 2025 model year, according to the New York Times. To meet that new standard, glass must be thinner and be as flush to the body as possible to reduce weight and drag.

The close tolerances demand different or better cut-out tools to reduce damage to the paint and remove the glass without breaking it.

This is part of the reason why a number of wire-out tools are being introduced to the market. Each tool has its pros and cons, and each does a very good job of removing glass without damage.

However, the biggest complaint about wire tools is the time it takes to set up and operate the tool. Time is frequently the deciding factor when purchasing a tool. Even the best wire-out professionals acknowledge that the process takes longer than other methods. The trade-off, they argue, is the reduction in damage is worth the extra time.

That may be true, but when a small business needs to pay its people and keep a business running in a competitive market, being productive with time is a key component.

I believe that you can do both – be productive and provide a quality glass removal without damage. It takes skill, practice and knowledge of what to look for (and at) to facilitate the fastest removal with wire.  What should you consider?

  • Is the glass original equipment (OE)? If it is, and if it does not have gravity stops at the bottom, then you will have to separate the guide pins at the top edge of the glass before proceeding with the removal. This is done by using a flexible sharpened putty knife or paddle tool blade to separate the pins from the glass surface. Otherwise, the pins can cause the wire or cord to break, thus prolonging the removal. If the glass is not OE, you may want to use wire instead of cord to make the removal easier. A previous installer may have used larger and thicker beads than the OE installer and the wire will cut through them better than the cord.
  • Cord or wire? That is entirely up to the technician. The wire cuts the urethane, and the cord is pulled through it. Cord is reusable if used correctly, but wire is a consumable discarded after every use. Cord is usually more expensive than wire, but due to its reuse capability, that may come out as the same cost.
  • The smaller the angle, the easier the tool works. The lower the degree of angle (under 90 degrees), the easier the cut and the less likely the wire will break during removal. A good angle is 45 degrees; 30 degrees is better and 15 is better yet. When the wire gets to 90 degrees of the tool’s spindle, move the tool closer to a corner edge and continue the cut.
  • Keep the wire as close to the inside glass surface as possible. This will aid in the ease of the cut and prevent possible damage to the interior garnish moulding. To achieve this, use the protective pad included in the kit or use a plastic stick to force the wire to the interior surface – or develop your own method.
  • Clean the interior surface of the glass and wipe down the vacuum cup for best suction to the glass. There is a great deal of tension on the wire, cord and cup. If the glass is dirty or the cup is wet or soiled, the cup will not hold suction and it can “walk” on you. Clean all surfaces before you begin glass removal.
  • Some tools work best when the distance between the spindle and the bead is less than three feet. Anything longer will put more tension on the wire or cord and cause it to break prematurely.
  • If you have a manual wire tool rather than a power tool, it may be easier to feel when the wire is at a breaking point. If you feel that the wire is tensing up, make short pulls and then allow the wire to rest. Then repeat as often as necessary until you feel the wire pull easier. This usually occurs around the corners and at the end of the cutout.
  • If you have a power tool, listen to the drain on the power tool as a hint of wire tension. If the tool sounds like it is struggling to pull the wire, inspect it to determine the cause of the obstruction. It could be a burr in the metal under the glass or the wire could be under the metal of the lower pinchweld. If so, relax the wire and get it between the glass and the adhesive.
  • Be extremely careful around the VIN plate – the wire can cut off the VIN plate easily. You DO NOT want to cut off the VIN plate. This has happened to me, and it is a major problem that involves the vehicle manufacturer, the state government and the owner. Make sure your wire is above the plate when it gets to that area of the urethane bead.

Each wire-out tool has its own little hints and tricks for efficient use. I urge you to listen to the manufacturer, learn and use those tricks. They are well worth the effort and training. Good luck.

It seems that every year about this time I write about cold weather installations. However, it’s an important topic and after last week’s post concerning the potential demise of mobile installations, I felt winter installation is a good issue to piggyback on to that one.

How cold is “cold?” For our purposes, I’ll define cold as below 40 degrees. However, every technician I know in northern climates has done installations in below freezing temperatures, and most have worked below 0 degrees. They hate it.

Mouldings and trim are more brittle and break easier, chemicals and adhesives have to be warmed for ease of use, the glass cleaner freezes as soon as it hits the glass, you have to get the keys and warm up the vehicle, and, man, it is just cold out there.

I believe the customer already knows cold weather installs are not ideal. That’s one of the factors for a downturn in business every winter. Yes, I know that there are other good reasons for business slowdowns in the winter – less travel, less road construction and snow doesn’t break windshields.  However, there is something to be said for those many customers in my career who have told me, “I’ll wait until spring to get my glass fixed.”

Can a windshield be installed safely in the winter? Yes, it can. However, there are a number of things that must be done to assure that the installation is safe and the technician is comfortable:

  • Read the technical data sheets and adhesive instructions for storage and use requirements.
  • Don’t store your chemicals where they can be frozen. Some adhesives do not have detrimental effects if frozen, but some do. Does yours? What about primers, adhesives and cleaners? All of these may need room temperature storage. If your service vehicle is not parked in a heated garage overnight, then you’ll have to bring in your chemicals every night.
  • Get the keys to the vehicle and warm it up before beginning. Ask for permission and check the gas gauge. You would hate to run the customer’s car out of fuel.
  • Remove all snow and wetness from the top of the vehicle so the warming car does not melt snow and allow water to flow onto the pinchweld and bonding areas.
  • Allow for longer drying times for primers and preps. The urethane will give you longer tack-free times and working times but also longer safe drive-away times (SDAT).
  • A cold technician hurries the job and makes mistakes. Dress warmly and in layers so when the day warms up layers can be removed for comfort. If you get too cold while doing the job, take a break and get in your warm service vehicle. Oh, by the way, keep your vehicle running all day to keep chemicals and adhesives warm and malleable.
  • Use a more moderate viscosity adhesive so it can be decked smoothly and evenly. Some high-viscosity adhesives will not allow you to deck the glass to the finished position.

I know there are technicians who have no choice in doing mobile installations because they do not have a bricks and mortar shop to which vehicles can be taken. However, if you take a look at the points above and calculate the costs of extra fuel, wouldn’t it be better and more profitable if you just schedule your work “in shop” – or at least indoors?  Then, you may be able to convince all your customers that shop installation is better for quality and scheduling, not to mention more profitable for you’re the service provider. Stay warm out there.

When I started in the auto glass replacement business, 90 percent of our work was completed through mobile installations. I had regular runs that started with an hour and a half of driving before I began my first job. At that time, and with our gasket sets, I believed that any auto glass part could be installed on a mobile basis just as it could in the shop. Under reasonable environmental conditions, it was understood that if a technician had the proper tools, a mobile installation was equal to a shop installation.

However, over years of experience and through extensive research, my early beliefs and those of industry experts have changed. There are valid reasons for rethinking mobile installations. There have been tools and products developed to promote mobile service and one man installs, but that does not mean that the installation itself is better for those developments.

Yes, urethanes have been formulated to cure to 0 degrees Fahrenheit and there are cordless power tools that allow installations anywhere, away from any access to shelter or a power source. There are ergonomically sound setting tools that allow for one-man sets. But really, do you think an installation like that is as good as one in the controlled conditions of a shop environment?

I think not. If you add wind blowing contaminants around a properly prepared part, the uncertainty of stable footing, and the effect of variable temperatures and humidity on today’s urethanes, you cannot guarantee a mobile installation will be equal to a shop job as far as safety goes.

I’ve heard many glass shop owners say they wouldn’t survive in their market if they didn’t offer mobile service. You’ve heard the arguments. “All my competitors offer it.”  “If I wish to keep up with my competitors, I have no choice.”  Is that true?

I would suggest those who market a different way demand attention and will usually benefit from that difference. Think about this a minute. Who was responsible for introducing mobile service to the consumer in the first place? We were. If we could convince the consumer that mobile service is good, why can’t we convince them that shop installs are better? It makes perfect sense and smart consumers really know it already. Add to that the new technology built into the glass and the electronics that power the modern vehicle and the common sense of environmentally controlled installations is a no-brainer.

I predict more sophisticated technology will be built into the glass of future vehicles. I predict glass design will include larger areas of space on the vehicles surface. So large, in fact, that it may take a machine or at least two people to lift and place it into the vehicle’s windshield opening. I predict the auto glass of the future will have more drastic bends and shapes to reduce vehicle drag and the awkwardness of setting the glass properly will be very difficult. I predict mobile service will be eventually phased out as an option due to size, shape, technology and electronic calibration. Your glass shop can be proactive and begin planning for these changes now. You can work on educating your customers, or be reactive when everyone else is doing nothing but shop jobs. It’s your choice.