by Bob Beranek
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Isn’t the Internet a wonderful thing? It’s at our fingertips to entertain, communicate, challenge and inform. When I was growing up, all I had was a library card and the Encyclopedia Britannica. Now anything you want to know, see or experience is right there on Google. Or is it?

We used to believe that what was written in a library book or printed in a textbook was proven truth.  We had recognized scholars and learned authors researching and composing writings that we were confident were factual. When I researched for my term papers at the library using scholarly papers and volumes of specialized publications, I was confident that what I was learning was established fact.

The Internet, with its many search engines and millions of sites, however, makes no promises of being correct or proven. It is a free forum of ideas, opinions and philosophies with no assurances of truth. Yet, when we quote the Internet, we use it as a basis of fact, and we refer to it often to get information.

What does this have to do with auto glass and its installation?

One of the things I have always held as a requirement in my career as a trainer is that the information I share through my classes, articles and book is factual. Yes, I have my opinions, and will share them if asked, but I qualify those opinions and make sure my audience is aware that it is an opinion and not a fact. The Internet does not do that.

When you “Google” a particular installation or a vehicle or any information concerning auto glass installation, you must take the information with a critical eye and consider where it is coming from and what it is really worth. I frequently get comments and questions from my students on videos or write-ups they have seen on the Internet. Don’t get me wrong, some of the information they glean can be very beneficial, and there are those in our industry who produce helpful YouTube videos. Others are simply wrong or destructive. The sad part for new (or poorly trained) technicians is that they don’t know the difference.

My advice to everyone who uses the Internet to accumulate information for auto glass replacement is to keep going. Be sure you know the basics of good installation practices and then look at what you see online with discerning eyes. Be critical of what you see. Where did this information come from?  Who is presenting it, and what is its purpose? Is it meant to inform the public or to sell a product? Are the actions and procedures accepted elsewhere, or is it the opinion of the author alone? Glean from it what you need, but learn the basics of auto glass installation, and then compare what you see online to your foundational knowledge. Make sure it aligns.

Do you need to know how to take off the mirror on a Toyota 4Runner? Do you need the best way to save the clips on a Honda Pilot side molding?  How do you remove the door panel on a Range Rover Evoque? All of these types of questions can be answered by a visit to the Internet. However, installation tips not proven to be safe to the consumer should not be taken from Brad’s $99 Auto Glass Emporium video tips. You may want to pass these by.

Bob Beranek is the president of Automotive Glass Consultants Inc.  

Are carmakers going to start pushing the use of their own, specifically branded, urethane kits? Recently I’ve learned that both Mercedes and BMW have moved in that direction. The story of branded urethanes is a developing one.

Many of you know that my son, Jay, is the glass manager of an automotive dealer group in Madison, Wis.  Recently, he attended a technical training held by Mercedes Benz. During the training, the instructor stated that Mercedes will only warrant installations completed with their OE glass and OE adhesives. He wanted to know what brand of adhesive Mercedes uses, and does he have to follow the directive? So, I set out to do some research.

I mean this only as a “heads-up,” in case your dealer clients start to require that you use their OE adhesive. If they do, I would suggest that you ask them to supply you with an SDS and instructions for use. Also, find out your cost and get special authorization or inform your customer accordingly. If Mercedes’ warranty requires its branded urethane to be used, even though our ARG adhesives meet (or exceed) their specs, it is a discussion you will need to have with your customer and/or their insurance company.

In August of 2012, President Obama directed the EPA to set Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards for passenger vehicles to mandate a fleet average of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. It was a stiff regulation to reduce emissions, but the automakers began to design vehicles to reach that goal.

How did they do that? We know from past experience (1973 fuel crisis) that vehicle manufacturers have at least two methods that have proved effective: They can downsize the vehicle to reduce weight, or make the vehicle more aerodynamic to reduce drag. Both of these methods of reducing fuel consumption directly influences the auto glass replacement industry.

How are we affected when CAFE standards change?

  • Thinner gauged steel and the increased use of aluminum bodied vehicles reduced the weight of the vehicle and changed the role of auto glass and its contribution to the safety of vehicle occupants.
  • Lightweight glass parts, like asymmetrical windshields, thinner tempered parts and the introduction of “gorilla” glass for automotive use, reduced weight thus making vehicles more fuel efficient. This can result in more glass breakage, also affecting those in our industry.
  • The increase of glass surfaces, such as all glass roofs and unique windshield designs like on the Tesla X, means less drag and better aerodynamics, but can change the way we do business, possibly reducing the opportunities for one-man sets or mobile service.
  • The introduction of Advanced Driver Assist Systems (ADAS) save not only lives but fuel as well through better use of electronics and the reduction human error. However, ADAS equipped vehicles frequently require after installation calibration to restore the safety originally designed into the vehicle.
  • Even subtle differences, like the elimination of exterior reveal moldings, can make a difference in weight reduction and lower drag from the wind. This can make our jobs easier with fewer parts to remove, or hold us more accountable with not as many ways to cover a mistake.

In March, the new administration announced that they are rethinking the Obama CAFE requirements. As a matter of fact, President Trump has announced that he will roll back the CAFE laws put in place by Obama and the EPA as a result of his corporate regulation reduction initiative. Will this make a difference in how the vehicles of the future will be designed? It may, but I doubt it will be a dramatic change.

The new vehicle designs that have already been introduced, and the ones currently on the drawing boards, are proving effective and desirable. Some large states, like California, still require the increased fuel efficiency in new vehicles. The average vehicle takes years to design, perfect and produce. I doubt that the vehicle makers are going to throw away all that preliminary work and the work already completed toward compliance simply because they can.

Obviously, car companies will weigh the cost of design changes versus the cost of production, but I don’t think it will matter much. It may be a relief for the carmakers to not have to worry about meeting a particular target, but I believe that the vehicle design, especially to glass and its mounting, will not change much due to regulation differences. Of course, this industry is always changing, so stay tuned.