You take the vehicle apart and there is corrosion. What do you do?
- Get the customer involved as soon as possible. As soon as the rust is detected, stop and involve the owner. Do not proceed until the problem is discussed and course of action is agreed upon. Make sure they understand the ramifications and the costs involved.
- Adhesives do not adhere to rust. If the rust is not removed and the metal prepared properly, that glass will not bond to the frame and the vehicle will be unsafe and will leak like a sieve. NO ONE can make that bond or make that windshield leak-free without corrosion treatment.
- The corrosion is neither their fault, nor your fault, but it must be fixed.
- Discuss the cost and who will pay for it. The cost must include materials and labor time and it must be fair. If they refuse to pay for the corrosion treatment, either walk away or discuss other options.
- If you proceed with the corrosion treatment or ignore it and proceed with the installation without treatment, you are now taking on the liability. This is important to note because how you complete the procedures will determine your exposure.
- Determine the level of corrosion and see if you can complete the treatment procedure dictated by your adhesive company. If your adhesive company does not have corrosion treatment products and procedures, then corrosion treatment should be referred to a collision repair center.
- Every adhesive company has procedures and guidelines to follow when dealing with corrosion. Make sure you have (in writing) all instructions and products to treat the metal properly. Some companies recommend an outside product from a different manufacturer that can be used with their products. Make sure you use only the specified products and not products that appear to be similar. The chemistries may not be compatible and the bond could suffer or fail.
- Prepare the metal for protective coatings. ALL rust must be removed from the vehicle’s pinchweld. If by removal of the metal, you feel that the metal is weakened in any way, you should refer the vehicle to a collision center for metal replacement.
- Light corrosion – Remove the light corrosion with a stainless steel wire brush or wheel to bright shiny metal. Wipe or blow the debris from the affected area. Allow any application of liquids to dry thoroughly. Then coat the area with the recommended products and bond according to instructions.
- Moderate corrosion – Protect the interior surfaces with pads that can tolerate flying hot metal flakes thrown by the grinding of metal. Remove the bulk of the rust with a grinding wheel or media blast (sand blasting). Then touch up the smaller remaining pits with a soft stone and die grinding tool. Once the metal is bright and shiny, wipe any residue from the pinchweld. Allow it to dry thoroughly if liquids are applied. Then coat the area with the recommended products and bond according to instructions.
- Severe Corrosion – Treating this grade of corrosion is up to the individual and/or glass company. This is the most questionable level because once you get into the rust removal stage the metal may break through into holes or be weakened to such a state as to be dangerous. Care must be taken to treat this level of rust. To prepare the metal for coating, observe at all metal removal stages the condition of the pinchweld. If it becomes perforated or weak to the touch, stop immediately and tow to a collision center of metal replacement. If you are able to remove the rust to bright shiny metal and the pinchweld strength is not compromised, then follow the preparation instructions mentioned above.
- Perforated Corrosion – This level should not be attempted by a non-professional body man. Perforated includes the corrosion that is deeply pitted, expanding metal (like wet plywood or blisters) or actual holes in the metal.
- Lastly, do not attempt to treat aluminum bodied vehicles. Aluminum requires special handling and materials to repair or treat galvanic corrosion. Send these vehicles to a collision center that has experience with aluminum repair.
Treatment of corrosion is a necessary evil that we must recognize and deal with whether we like it or not. It is not the most pleasant conversation we will have with a customer but it is an important one. Customers are going to expect the price you quoted over the phone to be what they pay. However, in regard to corrosion, that will not be the case.
If you live in a high corrosion area of the country, I would suggest that you stop giving “quotes” and start giving “estimates.” Explain that corrosion is common in the area and that a vehicle over a certain age (5-8 years old with a prior installation and 7-10 years without) is susceptible to corrosion that may raise the cost of the replacement. This discussion opens the door to the “safety” issue that makes your company exceptional and all of your competitors ordinary. Do not shirk away from the issue of corrosion. Rather embrace it and look at it as an added service you can offer to raise revenue and save lives.