by Bob Beranek

Be prepared to make friends with your local car dealers. More and more vehicles are requiring the involvement of the dealership in auto glass replacement through computer calibration—oh, for the good ol’ days when an installer went out and completed the entire job for the customer. Unfortunately, those days are gone I’m afraid.

It started way back when the Ford Taurus eliminated the heated windshield and the dealer had to disconnect and recalibrate the computer to compensate for its absence. Then Volvo wouldn’t tell us how to re-initialize its door glasses or adjust its rain sensors for non-OEM glass so the dealers had to get involved with those. Now we have even more vehicles that require dealer intervention.

We start with the VW Eos convertible and the Mini Cooper Convertible. There may be more of these, but these are all we know about so far. These vehicles’ roofs are very sophisticated in the retraction process. When the roof switch is activated, the vehicle begins the act of lowering the windows, opening the back deck and swallowing up the roof and its mechanism. This process is intricately timed and calibrated to run smoothly both ways and provide a leak free environment when the roof is returned to the “up” position. If the door glass, quarter glass or back glass needs replacing, it is recommended that the dealer do the work and not your local auto glass shop. Why? Because all of the parts must be timed and calibrated to work together and that takes the computers found at the dealer’s service center. The windshields are still replaceable without the dealers’ involvement, but don’t even attempt the side and back parts.

Next, Mercedes vehicles—it has come to my attention that the Mercedes vehicles with Code 610 (night view assist) must be calibrated by the dealer whenever the windshield is replaced.  According to the windshield instruction manual, the night view assist camera must be removed to replace the windshield along with the rain sensor and mirror. Once the camera and sensor are removed, it warns that re-calibration is called for to adjust for any faults that may occur during both components removal. It also notes that the hood, doors and windows must be closed to test the components for those of you that don’t have the night view assist.

Is this an unusual situation or is this a sign of the times? I am predicting that this is only the beginning of dealer involvement. I will say that it is now somewhat limited to convertibles and luxury vehicles, but I would not be surprised if future designers would not include dealer involvement with other repairs considering that it is a way to get more revenue after the sale. It has always been difficult for vehicle manufacturers to trademark or patent auto parts due to fair trade laws in the U.S., but this is a way to get dealer involvement by bypassing those regulations.

If I were you, I would start dropping by your local car dealer’s service department and buy them lunch once in a while. It may be your only option in getting your customers in and out of the service bays quickly and easily. Oh, yes, one more thing—it may be wise to find out what the cost might be for these services and quote accordingly or you may find out that you just gave away your profits.

Comments (3)

  1. Daniel said on 09-03-2012

    Fran kly, I’m more and more disappointed learning that the US is borrowing the Eastern European/Balkanic way of treating business: . And hereby I name the more or less masked bribe. Whyile multinationals strive to build higher piles of money, the independents dive and even crash under the taxes and unfair competition burdens, as they act professionally and prove courtesy and expertise towards the regular customer.
    No, I am no a [nostalgic} communist, but late trends of the Worldwide society would not comfort the small players, despite their fairness.
    Lucky us, we already see our final station, as our trip was long, hard and many times: beautiful. But what about our successors ?! They just begin their trip and their perspectives are dark enough, despite teachings we shared with them.
    Would their samurai spirit prevail? Will they be faithful to good sense and honesty ?
    Time will tell.
    Empires came, empires went away, wiped out of capricious history; however, history is the item forged by nobody else but mankind. Independents, like us, organized to fight empires.

  2. John R. Allen said on 22-03-2012

    Bob, as always you have written a well thought out article and very timely! I feel with all these changes it is a win-win for the installer and the dealer. The installer works with the dealer to do the install, then the dealer can charge for the calibration. Danile said above “As Independents, like us, organized to fight empires.” We don’t have to fight, we can work together and everyone earns more…Remember the T.E.A.M. concept, Together Everyone Earns More. We only serve dealerships and have been for 151/2 years and we earn probably more then the average installer! Keep up the good work!

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