by Bob Beranek
  • facebook

In my last post, I discussed reasons why pre- and post-scans must be performed on every vehicle coming in for service or repair. I explained ODB-II ports and the scanners used to monitor them. The reasoning behind this directive has been debated. Is vehicle scanning a consumer necessity for safety, or a way to get more money by adding an unnecessary service?

Leading the debate on the side of safety and customer satisfaction are the service providers and carmakers. On the other side, we see the insurance industry and/or the consumer who may not want to pay for this service. The auto glass industry being a service provider in the aftermarket, is caught between a rock and a hard place. On one hand we want to provide a safe and quality auto glass replacement for our customers.  On the other, we want to provide a service that our customers, retail and insurance alike, will value and demand.

Are pre- and post-scans necessary?

Modern vehicles have a plethora of safety and performance features that must perform flawlessly to protect the occupants from harm, and provide long and worry-free service built into them. Some of these features depend on other adjacent or contributing features to work properly and efficiently. Some carmakers feel strongly enough about goals of safety and performance to make pre- and post-scans mandatory for their service providers. We in the auto glass industry, can’t ignore the directives from the vehicle manufacturers or all liability will rest on our shoulders. So, are pre- and post-scans necessary – I say yes. Safety is our goal and the operation of the vehicles’ safety devices after a glass replacement are our responsibility. If it takes scanning the vehicle to assure safety, we have little choice in the matter.

Photo Courtesy of Mitchell International

We need to address this issue sooner rather than later both in our everyday practice of our craft and in our standard that guides us to safe installation.

Are we going to be paid for this added service?

Just as we are fighting for fair payment for recalibration, we may also have to fight for scanning reimbursement. It seems if the car maker requires it, the insurance industry is willing to pay what is necessary for safety. However, they need to be asked in advance of the service.

My advice to all shops:

  • Acquire a vehicle scanner and learn how to use it to scan all vehicles prior to and after an installation.
  • Determine a fair and reasonable price in your market for the service.
  • Create a policy and procedure for when a scan finds issues beyond your ability to repair.
  • Train your technicians on the proper scanning procedures of the tool you choose to purchase.
  • Train your billing agents in proper pre-authorization of scanning costs for retail and insurance customers.

This could be a win-win-win for everyone. It is a win for the customer in added safety and performance, a win for the insurance companies in reduced accident claims, and a win for service providers who have an additional service to offer customers.

The aftermarket is slowly gaining the knowledge and skills necessary to perform recalibrations of advanced driver assist systems (ADAS). With the proper equipment and training, we can now offer a valuable service to customers. Can we relax now? I’m afraid not.

The next big thing in our industry will be scanning. Specifically, we will be performing pre and post scanning on vehicles prior to and after the replacement procedure. Whether we like it or not, many vehicle manufacturers are requiring scans when a vehicle comes in for a service or repair.

What is a scan? Why is it important? How does it pertain to the auto glass industry? These are important questions and it will take more than one post to explore them adequately, so let’s begin.

Have you heard of the OBD-II? The OBD stands for OnBoard Diagnostic (OBD) computer. The II (2) is the version currently being used. Most scanning devices state they can scan any vehicle from 1996 onward because scanning became standardized in 1996. The first OBD device used in a vehicle was in 1968 on the Volkswagen and was used to monitor its fuel-injected system. There were different versions of the OBD as time progressed but the 1996 version (OBD-II) standardized the 16-pin design receptacle and the basic requirements for reporting faults. The OBD-II has a port by which a reading device (scanner) can be inserted and is usually found underneath the dash on the vehicle’s driver side.

Photo Courtesy 

Photo Courtesy Engie

By preforming a scan, you tap into the OBD to find out what is wrong with the vehicles components that are reporting to the OBD computer. Once the scan is completed and the issues (faults) are defined and found, the technician can repair the problem, adjust electronically or simply erase the fault code.

Not all scans provide the same picture of included components. The basic components originally required by mandate were simple emission control tracking. Later, vehicle manufacturers added other performance and safety related components to the OBD computer for monitoring, but they are manufacturer specified and not standardized.

There are a wide range of scanning tools out there, and they fall into two types. One is a more consumer driven tool. It’s usually inexpensive and gives the user a picture without giving them much technical information or the ability to do any repair or erasure. The other is a more professional tool that can give the repair technician practical information to act upon.

Bluetooth Scanner – Photo Courtesy BAFX Products

Stand Alone Scanner – Photo Courtesy of

My next scanning post will address its importance to auto glass replacement and discusses the ramifications to the industry.

A few months ago at Auto Glass University in Michigan I had a conversation with one of my students regarding cutting auto glass versus buying it pre-cut. I think it’s becoming a lost art. Cutting laminated glass is a challenge not many professionals pursue since most parts can be purchased pre-cut. However, cutting your own laminated parts can put a few more dollars in your pocket if you have the equipment and time.

In the past I’ve written about some of the techniques used to cut laminated glass and I urge you to look back for more information if you’re interested. Nevertheless, I have not examined the most important tool in glass fabrication, the glass cutter itself. There is more to a glass cutter than you might think.

There is an assortment of glass cutters that each have characteristics that appeal to the glass fabricator. You can choose between:

  • The type of handle;
  • The type of head;
  • The cutting wheel composition;
  • The wheel hone angle; and
  • Self-oiling.

Type of Handle

Pencil Grip – Photo Courtesy Home Depot

Pistol Grip – Photo Courtesy Delphi Glass

There are two types of handles: pencil grip and pistol grip. The pencil grip requires about 2-5 lbs. of finger pressure, while the pistol grip requires the same amount of pressure but requires more hand pressure versus finger pressure. The type of grip depends on the cutter’s preference.

Type of Head

Pattern Cutting – Photo Courtesy

Straight Cutting – Photo Courtesy Equalizer

There are two types of cutting heads: straight cutting and pattern cutting. The pattern cutting head is narrower and swivels 360 degrees. Meanwhile, the straight cutting head is wider and does not pivot. Though auto glass technicians cut from patterns, most cuts are straight, making the straight cut head preferred.

Cutting Wheel Composition

Most glass cutting wheels are made of steel because it’s the most economical, but they dull faster. The tungsten carbide wheel is another option. If you plan on cutting a large amount, the tungsten carbide wheel is the head of choice.

Wheel Hone Angle

The hone angle for most cutters ranges between 120 degrees – 154 degrees, the higher the number the sharper the wheel. A cutter with a 154 degree hone angle is recommended for glass over ½-inch thick. Auto glass cutters never cut glass this thick, so the lower hone angles are recommended.

Self-oiling Cutters

Oil’s purpose in glass cutting is to lubricate the cutting wheel for smooth scores. Some cutters have a reservoir built into the handle for oil to be dispensed. These are exceptional cutters, but if dry cutters are stored in oil, a less expensive cutter can be used with excellent results.

Photo Courtesy

Photo Courtesy Equalizer

Glass cutters are rarely sharpened, using it hones it and keeps it in “round.” The end of a glass cutter is when the wheel goes out of its “round” shape. If a glass cutter is dropped on the floor it, or at least the head must be replaced. A burr in the wheel will cause the cutter to skip and cause the glass to erratically break.

Consider adding glass fabrication to your area of expertise. With a little practice, it can bring big dividends.