by Bob Beranek
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Look at all the acronyms. Most of my readers already know what these mean: ARG – Aftermarket Replacement Glass, OE – Original Equipment Glass, and ADAS – Advanced Driver Assistance Systems. You probably also know the problems we have been having lately. In this blog, I will attempt to explain why some ARG parts cannot be used in (some) vehicles that have been equipped with an ADAS.

The first thing to understand is that fractions of an inch make a huge difference. When aiming a projectile or a beam, any fraction of an inch movement at the source will result in huge differences at the target. It may result in the target being missed completely. If the opening that the projectile or beam must go through is limited in size and configuration, then the aiming is limited to that opening. Recalibration is the aiming of a lens of a camera or a beam at road markings to align, stop or steer the vehicle. If the aiming of that device is off by even tiny fractions of an inch, it can mean the difference between life and sustaining injury. 

If you notice, most glass parts used in a vehicle with ADAS have a unique parallelogram cutout in the third visor frit near the mirror. This cutout has the parameters that the camera, laser or LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) can be aimed through or adjusted within. If that cutout is smaller, deformed or misplaced, the aiming device may not be able to be adjusted to meet the criteria of the vehicle specifications. It is imperative that the frit cutout is precise to allow for adjustment. Now add to that the mounting bracket attached to the interior windshield surface. If that bracket is off another fraction of an inch, that can compromise the calibration as well.

Frankly, I can understand the carmaker’s requirement of OE parts being used when ADAS is present. Do I find this as a problem for my business of auto glass replacement? Yes, I do. It means that I must order my glass from the appropriate dealer, then wait for delivery to that dealer, then spend time to pick up the part at the dealer and finally pay the dealer a much higher price than an ARG part. If the glass was not damaged in shipment by inexperienced glass handlers, then I replace the windshield and take it back to the dealer for recalibration and pay another fee for the service. I find this arduous at best. I’m just being nice, it is freaking ridiculous.

In a past post, I discussed my optimism in ARG glass manufacturers “upping their game.” I do believe this to be true. I believe that they will improve their “reverse engineering” practices. I believe that they will tighten their tolerances to closely match the OE. I believe that they will improve quality control standards to make them viable and competitive.  Because, if they don’t, they won’t be here very long. I urge all of my readers that if they find that their ARG part is deficient in regard to safety, make your displeasure known. Retain the offending glass part in case the glass manufacturer wants it back to examine it.

I also believe that “cheap” windshields will no longer be a common product. We will have to pay more for quality goods, and we will have to “up our game” as well. Will cheap windshields still exist? Yes. However, be prepared for the possibility that the ADAS will not be able to be calibrated.

I believe that our industry is going to improve and be better for this technology boom. I think this safety technology will weed out the riff-raff and reward the true professionals with better quality goods, higher labor charges and more profits. If you can survive this industry-altering change, you will be stronger and better off for it. That is my belief.

Bob Beranek is the president of Automotive Glass Consultants Inc. 

Sometimes, when installing glass in a vehicle with one (or more) previous installations, I notice that the previous tech primed some damaged areas, but missed some due to the presence of corrosion. I wonder how he missed such obvious scratches.

Of course, the scratches are obvious to me because they are now corroded and the rust expanded, making the scratches larger and more visible. In the process of installation, even the best technicians can miss small problems if they do not purposely look for them. Problems may include “flaps” of urethane, broken clips and deeper scratches that the technician thought were superficial.

As many of you know, I judge the AGSC Auto Glass Technician Olympics at Auto Glass Week. I am assisted by some of the most talented auto glass professionals in the industry, and every year I learn new things from them as well as the contestants competing.

One of the best tips I ever got was from my friend and colleague, Bruce Gates from Gates Brothers Glass in Bellefontaine, Ohio. I’ve known Bruce for more than thirty years from our days teaching the Auto Glass Technical Institute. He gave me and the other judges a tip on a way of detecting those hidden deep scratches. He took an LED pocket flashlight and went around the pinchweld. When the light hits bare metal, it makes the deep scratches light up like a neon light. If it hits the “E” coats, primer coats or other superficial scratches, it will appear dull.

The need to cover deep, bare metal scratches is imperative to the long term success of the installation and must be a top priority for every install. This is especially true today, when some adhesive companies require double priming of deep scratches for proper coverage and ultimate protection from corrosion.  However, finding all those scratches is a challenge. Here are some suggestions to make your installations corrosion free.

  1. Don’t cause scratches in the first place. Use scratch-resistant tools, such as wire tools, coated cold knife blades, and protective tapes. Use removal techniques that reduce or eliminate pinchweld damage, eliminate “plunge cuts,” use power tools as they’re designed and master hand tools for better control.
  2. Take the time to find all of the scratches. Scratches are sometimes impossible to avoid either because of vehicle design or prior sloppy installation. However, if you don’t find them all, the result is shortening the vehicle’s life and undermining the quality of the installations.
  3. Once you find the scratches, follow your adhesive manufacturers’ instructions for covering the damage. It may take special primers, special procedures or special preparation.

Corrosion is not fun to find or fix. However, corrosion is part of the job and must be fixed. Some of us live in areas of the country where corrosion may be a daily occurrence, while others see it rarely. Keep this in mind. If we don’t scratch the vehicle we are working on, or we find every scratch on the vehicle and prep it properly, there will be fewer vehicles with corrosion, and our jobs will be proportionally easier. I’m all for easier.

Bob Beranek is the president of Automotive Glass Consultants Inc. 

I get questions from techs in the field about galvanic corrosion regularly. This article discusses where we should look for corrosion when installing auto glass and what we can do to prevent it.

Wikipedia defines galvanic corrosion (also called bimetallic corrosion) as an electrochemical process in which one metal corrodes preferentially when it is in electrical contact with another, in the presence of an electrolyte.

Short of going into long scientific explanations of how galvanic corrosion occurs, let’s simply put it like this: When two dissimilar metals make contact, the possibility of galvanic corrosion is likely. Galvanic corrosion is not like the “rust” we are used to seeing. Instead of looking like rough orange flaking metal, it appears like a white powder that eventually eats away at the weaker metal.

We as techs rarely think about the ramifications of two dissimilar metals touching when doing an installation, but we should. If a steel screw is used to attach a chrome molding to an aluminum vehicle, we will eventually have problems. The aluminum will eat away, and the molding will come loose. Worse yet, the aluminum could undermine the bond, and the windshield will not perform properly in a collision.

We have heard in the past not to use normal polyurethane on an aluminum vehicle due to the possibility of galvanic corrosion. We were told that if normal, conductive carbon black urethane was used on aluminum pinchwelds, the result would be corroded metal. The possibility of galvanic corrosion, along with the diffusion of an electrical circuit, were the two main reasons for the introduction of non-conductive urethanes. Galvanic corrosion, although still an issue, has taken a back seat since the introduction of the aluminum Ford F-150 and the use of normal urethane with non-conductive primers and protective paints.

However, we still need to pay attention to other situations where this type of corrosion may occur. A good example is the Toyota Camry with riveted side moldings. There are plastic grommets inserted in the same holes in which the aluminum rivets are placed and crimped. By removing the rivets, many times the grommets are damaged. Did all of you replace those damaged grommets to prevent the aluminum rivets from making contact with the steel “A” pillar?

Stop and look carefully as you disassemble any vehicle for glass replacement. You will find many more times when there are protective grommets, washers, fasteners and/or retainers that separate the many metals found on the modern-day vehicle. Don’t ignore them. All of them are there for reason, and it is our job to make sure we don’t shorten the life of our customers’ vehicle. Also remember, with the drive to increase fuel efficiency in future cars, that there will be many more lightweight metals used. We, as professionals, have to be observant and act on what we see.

Bob Beranek is the president of Automotive Glass Consultants Inc.