by Bob Beranek
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Many of you may remember the parlor game called “telephone.” Someone starts a phrase and whispers it into the ear of an adjoining person who repeats the phrase to the next person and so on until the phrase reaches the last person in the room. The last individual then repeats what he heard and most of the time the phrase doesn’t resemble the original. The results can be pretty amusing.

I made a statement many years ago that has come back to me lately as a perfect example of that game. In the mid-1990s I gave a presentation at a seminar in which I stated “Of the installations I have examined in my career where the glass was previously replaced, I would say that 70 percent were done incorrectly in one way or another.” The purpose of the statement was to show the need for proper automotive glass training, as opposed to throwing a rookie on a truck with a veteran and hoping for the best. That statement I made two decades ago has been attributed to many other sources, misquoted and has grown to the level of viral so now it is common knowledge that “70 percent of the installations completed in the United States are completed unsafely.”

My original statement was preceded by the comment that this was my opinion and not a scientific fact or a proper survey. The only way to know definitively what percentages of installations are unsafe is by crash testing, which isn’t really practical. However, during that same seminar, a person in the back of the room, a representative for PPG Industries, said to the group, “I have seen installers installing glass for years and you are all wrong, it is more like 90 percent are improperly installed.” That observation drew many laughs and nods of agreement but, like my original comment, it was an estimation based on observations and not fact. I have observed, inspected and participated in thousands of installations during my career, mostly OE installed, but many installed previously by so-called “trained” technicians. Over the years, I do think the quality of installations has improved to a certain extent, but so has the demand for more expertise in the art. So is 70 percent an accurate percentage of failure?

I guess before we can discuss “incorrectly” installed parts we have to define “proper installation.”

Proper Installation: An automotive glass installation that restores the safe condition designed in the mounting of a glass part to the vehicle frame as defined by Federal Safety Standards, replicates the fit, performance and appearance of the OE product and its installation and restores the proper operation of all safety and value added features originally included when the vehicle was purchased.

That definition now allows us to determine a correct installation. Do I think that installations in general are incorrectly done 70 percent of the time? I don’t know, you tell me. Just keep in mind:

  • The complexities of proper adhesive use, cleaning, prepping, priming and proper application;
  • The need for contaminants to be controlled during installation;
  • Many installers, as reported by a glass distributor, use primerless, longest curing, cheapest product in all conditions and on mobile trucks;
  • There is a urethane being used on the coasts that are plain white tubes that say “urethane,” that’s it;
  • Many of the mobile trucks are one-man trucks without setting devices or helpers, are they properly setting every time?
  • Adhesive brand systems are often mixed incorrectly for the sake of cost or convenience;
  • There is adhesive failure by ARG companies and paint delamination on OEs;
  • Many installs are done with wipers up and cowl panels left on; and
  • Many windshields are still installed with round beads instead of the recommended triangular beads.

You tell me. How many of these things do you see and witness every day in prior installations? You may be lucky and live in an area where good installations are the norm, but think of the many installations nationwide and worldwide where the technicians don’t have a clue.

Comments (10)

  1. […] TODAY’S BLOG: Is 70-Percent of Glass Previously Replaced Done Wrong? […]

  2. Scot Spanos said on 19-06-2014

    I am the manager of a large private glass company in Texas! I have 38 years in this business! It is amazing to me what is still going on out there!
    I will say, I worked for a company in Mi, Henderson Glass that did everything it could to insure a proper installation everytime!
    I now work for a company that strives to do it ‘right” every time also! I could not sleep at night knowing I had made someones car unsafe to drive!

  3. John R. Allen said on 19-06-2014

    Bob; I must agree with the PPG Rep. It is more like 90%…Today alone, two of my guys in the Hamilton-Niagara Falls area pushed 2 windshields out, both were Pilkington…not the cheap Chinese crap…One looked at a PPG w/shield that had been replaced and it looks like the cowl was just lifted and the glass slid down causing a big water leak in an Acadia taking out the fuse block and wire repairs…$3,000.00 it cost the glass guy! Yesterday there were another 2 or three that were leaking due to poor install. That is just two of my 20+ guys…I should keep track daily, it would be scary!!!!

  4. Dennis F said on 20-06-2014

    Just did an install this morning that was done 4 weeks ago by a big “chain company”. Rust had ALREADY developed from the use of a razor knife to remove the old molding. All of the hooks that attach the edge of the cowl to the glass were sheared off, obviously by an extractor or similar power tool. I am grateful that we have people that care about the job they do and the customers that they service. We also use two man installation teams as nothing beats a two person set.

  5. Glasseye said on 21-06-2014

    Agree with the comments made on this subject but I would also say some car manufacturers don’t give much consideration to glass replacement when designing their models.

  6. Jamie Browning said on 24-06-2014

    Bob,
    I think if we were to have a “secret” camera videotape technicians the number would be higher. I think there needs to be federal regulation of the industry and fines issued for those that choose to do unsafe work. Its too easy for technicians to miss crucial steps in performing a safe install when they think no one is looking and fines are really the only way to stop this even though I am sure this statement will be unpopular with some. The two biggest things our industry has to change is educating the customer and providing the means to teach technicians. This is why Auto Glass University is important and I hope more technicians take advantage of the opportunity to attend.

  7. vantheglassman said on 26-06-2014

    yeah I agree with everyone of you. And the worst part of it is is all these little cut throat guys run around doing it by themselves and butchering these cars are doing the jobs so inexpensively that it makes it hard for someone that actually does care to do the do the job right and use a two man set. who can afford help when you have to come down to 169 for pick up windshields just to compete. I mean after all the law says we have to pay minimum wage. sure if two people can do 30 a day that would be great but then they also want mobile service because that’s what the cut throat has offered. And shame on you insurance companies for taking the food out of our mouths. I feel they are solely responsible for my company not being able to afford to run a two man crew. Because we used to when we could make a little bit of money off of insurance to offset the fact were giving them away on the cash end

  8. vantheglassman said on 26-06-2014

    Oh yeah….. I’m in Abilene Texas where they have had one hell of a hailstorm and I have never seen such sloppy work in my life! I thought Albuquerque was bad. To all the insurance companies I would like for you to hire me to randomly go pull windshields that other people have put in and inspect to make sure they’re priming their scratches and if they’re not ……. kick em off the networks and file charges for criminal mischief because they know they are supposed to be using pinch weld primer or….. users of forums like this such as myself should get together and petition insurance companies to let us do this and run these little bastards out of business. excuse my French but they are bastardizing these cars! my partners and I did 87 windshields last week in Abilene and only 19 of them had pinch weld primer! we always make it a point to count when we go somewhere new just to see how people locally are doing things. I printed off a thousand Flyers I found online entitled 70 percent of all previously replaced windshields have been done incorrectly and are unsafe and I’m going door to door and giving them out to inform the public what their local guys are doing here and that they are butchering their cars and endangering their lives. hit me up @ vantheglassman@gmail.Com and I will forward this flyer information on to you to give as well

  9. vantheglassman said on 26-06-2014

    the customers will let us pull their windshields and have a look if we promise to install a brand new one free of charge. I think the insurance company should be required to do this randomly at least one out of 100 customers.

  10. Jimmy Roca said on 10-07-2014

    Hey Bob!

    Thanks again for that awesome class. If you’re ever in Phoenix you should swing on by my work and tell the guy who is “training” me that he is doing it wrong and unsafe. I’m feeling very stressed as the newbie to the business and all he does is bash the way I’m trying to do it and belittling this class which I feel is great and should be mandatory training for all technicians. Help! I seem to have misplaced your card. I would really love if you could shoot me an email. james.roca@live.com

    ~Jimmy

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