Should You Fix Someone Else’s Leaks?

As service providers, we want to please our customers, not only as a good business practice, but also for additional revenue. If someone brings in a leak or malfunctioning mechanism, we want to help. But should we? Fixing a malfunctioning door glass or moveable part is a no brainer, fix it and charge accordingly. However, you may want to think again when a potential customer brings in a leaking stationary part.

Here are the facts. You can, in all likelihood, fix the leak but did you also open yourself up to possible liability? You have to ask yourself:

  • Was this glass replaced previously?
  • Who did this work originally?
  • Did they wash the glass appropriately? This is the number one reason for adhesive failure.
  • Did they prime the glass properly and with the right product? Did they mix brands?
  • Did they use an adhesive that meets the OEM specifications as dictated by the AGRSS Standard?
  • Did they use their greasy hands to set the glass instead of cups or gloved hands?
  • Did they install it in the rain or snow?
  • Did they prep the pinchweld properly to reduce contaminants?

The answer for most of these questions is often “I don’t know.” And that’s the point. If you don’t know if the glass was put in properly in the first place, do you want your name and your reputation associated with it? I think not. I tell my customers that I will fix the problem and guarantee my work only if a new glass part is installed. The reason is simple, you can never clean the bonding edge clean enough to overcome a previous mistake in chemical preparation. The glass frit is porous enough that the chemicals seep down into the far reaches of the surface and cannot be cleaned out adequately. That is why distributors do not accept returns of primed glass.

If the customer cannot accept that option, I respectfully suggest that they take it back to the company that replaced it in the first place. Their warrantee applies and I cannot honor another’s guarantee. Even if the vehicle owner offers to pay you to seal a leak, the original installation is still intact with all of its strengths and weaknesses. How sure are you that the rest of the installation is bonded solidly? You don’t know.

What happens if you decide to ignore my advice and fix your customer’s leak anyway? You will tell yourself that you are building goodwill with the customer and you are probably right. However, now the vehicle is involved in a collision and injuries occur.

What was the last automotive glass company to work on the vehicle?

Who was the last professional to diagnose and repair the glass part? Imagine being asked in court:

—“Mr. Glass Professional, why didn’t you assume that the leak was an indication of a faulty previous install and correct the entire replacement?”

—“The customer did not want it re-replaced.”

—“Mr. Glass Professional, who knows more about the safety ramifications of a safe windshield replacement, Mr. John Q. Public or you?”

My suggestion is that you let everyone fix their own mistakes and you take care of your own. If you want to help out a disgruntled customer looking for help, do so without putting yourself in a liability situation you don’t want to have.