by Bob Beranek
  • facebook

I just got back from Glass Expo West™ in Irvine, Calif., where the Auto Glass Safety Council™ (AGSC) held its spring board and committee meetings. Every spring and fall the AGSC board and committees meet to discuss the AGRSS™ Standard, which they are responsible for maintaining, as well as other pressing issues that affect the industry. I am proud to be a board member, chairman of the AGSC Standards Committee and a member of the Education Committee, so it was a busy week.

The biggest issue, both in the committee meetings and at the bar afterward, was the Advanced Driver Assist Systems (ADAS). How should we handle the recalibration both practically in our daily work and in our AGRSS™ Standard? There were some passionate discussions based on the information brought to us by Mitch Becker of ABRA Collision and Glass and Glen Moses from Safelite. Both gentlemen brought some very interesting facts as well as their opinions, based on extensive research.

Anyone who follows this blog knows my feelings on the issue. Safety is paramount and no matter how anyone wants to paint it, it still comes down to delivering a safe vehicle back to the customer in a manner that is reasonable for business.

If you haven’t seen my previous posts, I said:

  • ADAS is a safety device;
  • Any ADAS cameras or equipment the technician removes or displaces during the course of an installation must be recalibrated by a certified calibration specialist, such as the vehicle dealer or an approved calibration professional, if such calibration is required by vehicle manufacturers’ specifications; and
  • If the calibration cannot be done to the vehicle manufacturer’s specifications by the glass technician, an appointment should be made with the appropriate recalibrating agency by the glass shop for the customer so any liability will be reduced to the shop owner.

My belief was that this would have protected both the customer and the glass shop from any issues arising from the ADAS.

Last week I discovered, unfortunately, that the issues aren’t that simple. Here are some more facts about the new ADAS systems that glass shops will need to address:

  • There are more and more vehicle manufacturers that are requiring OEM glass be used on vehicles equipped with ADAS systems. The glass part itself must meet the exact specifications of the system or it may perform abnormally due to curvature issues and tint.
  • Some dealers may not even calibrate the glass unless the glass is OEM so check this out with your local dealerships.
  • Many dealers across the U.S. don’t even know what an ADAS is or know how to deal with it.
  • The debate is still on whether the ADAS is a safety device due to the ability of the driver to bypass the system by turning it off. It was reported that even the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) did not want to weigh in on this issue as yet.

This makes dealing with these systems very problematic. So problematic in fact, that the AGSC Standards Committee could not yet develop a directive or statement without absorbing and digesting all the information first.

We decided to review the information brought to our attention, research added information ourselves and come back this fall with our recommendations for the committee to debate. This technology is so new and so diverse that even the carmakers’ dealership system is unsure of the ramifications of calibration or recalibration. All we know is what is written in the service manuals of the vehicles, and all we can do at this time is to follow those recommendations.

However, there was one positive note on all this doom and gloom. General Motors does not require recalibration of their ADAS after windshield replacement because they designed it to be self-calibrating. The belief of some of the pundits in the room is that calibration of ADAS may become a moot point in the next decade due to standardization of the systems currently in use. Some believe that the ADAS will go the way of GM’s self-calibrating system rather than Europe’s system of constant calibration of electronic features.

We can only hope.

Recently, I had two separate readers send me a section of the new 2015 Ford F150 Service Manual with a question that peaked my curiosity.

On page two of the 501-11 Glass, Frames and Mechanisms, General Procedures, Revised Date 10/29/14, it states:

“Note: Fixed glass must be discarded once removed. A new fixed glass is required.”

Now this is interesting. Does this mean we no longer have the option to remove and reinstall the fixed glass for the new Ford F-150? R&Rs have been used for years to save money when a vehicle needs structural repair. If Ford has chosen to take that option off the table and require new replacement glass whenever the old glass is removed, it will have a big impact on the businesses that make the repairs and the insurance companies that pay for them.

I found this directive by Ford to be curious, so I decided to do some research. After calling and emailing some people who might know the motivation for this new requirement, I discovered an answer of sorts.

First of all, this directive covers not just the 2015 F-150, but all of Ford’s new model introductions starting in 2013. The original reason for the directive was a study done by Ford of three installations completed by different glass companies at a Ford facility. They found the glass was “rarely” saved while doing an R&R. They noticed, especially, that the underside mouldings along the “A” pillar were damaged after the removal attempt.

I asked what removal method was used and I was told that various tools were tried, including power tools, cold knifes and wire. In their study only one of the fixed parts was salvaged. Therefore Ford decided that to better serve their vehicle buyers and to protect themselves from further repair costs under warranty, they would make this directive for all new Ford vehicles.

My next voiced concern was the ramifications of this Ford requirement when it comes to dealing with insurance adjusters. What are the odds that adjusters are going to accept the glass shop’s reason for why the part needs to be replaced? “Because Ford Motor Co. says so” may be a good enough reason for some, but my fear is that most adjustors will find someone who is willing to R&R the part to save some money.

What I heard from my sources was that insurance companies should not be involved because fixed glass leaks are a warranty issue. However, this directive was printed not in a service bulletin or a recall notice, as a “fix once and you’re done” issue, it was printed in Ford’s “General Procedures” service manuals, which direct all repair procedures recommended by the vehicle manufacturer.

This puts the good glass shops that want to follow Ford’s directives between a rock and a hard place. Do we follow the vehicle manufacturer’s requirements and possibly lose the job to those that don’t care, or ignore the Ford directive and place ourselves in a negative liability situation because the procedures manual says to discard the glass and replace with a new one?

If removal of the fixed glass in new Fords is necessary to correct a warranty issue, then we have no problem. Warranty issues are fixed according to the instructions given and then they are over. However this instruction was written in the general procedures service manual as a directive we all must follow. That means if a dealer or collision center contacts us to pull an undamaged fixed glass part from a 2013 or newer Ford vehicle, we, according to our AGRSS™ Standard, will have to either decline the job or require the glass to be removed, discarded and then replaced with a new OEM part.

I’ve trained automotive glass installation professionals all around North and Central America for many years. It never ceases to amaze me when the technicians who sit in my courses know little about the products they use. They know how to use their tools, they know the territory in which they work and they know how to take any vehicle apart blindfolded, but they know little about a vital product they use to accomplish their task and ensure the safety of their customers. I’m talking specifically about polyurethane.

Many of you have read lately of the ANSI acceptance of the new version of the AGRSS standard called 003-2015. There have been articles, seminars and discussions of the changes the new standard brings to our industry. Some were substantive changes that will affect the way we do business, while others were simply correcting language and reference points. While reading it over, I noticed a change that triggered memories of trainings past.

Section 6.4: “The vehicle owner/operator shall be notified prior to and after the installation process of the minimum drive-away time under the circumstances of the replacement.”

This part of the standard brings back the memories of the many times I ask technicians and owners the simple question, “What urethane do you use?” Some answers I get are:

  • “I don’t know, it’s in a white tube.”
  • “Sika.” Which kind of Sika? “I don’t know, I have to heat it.”
  • “I don’t know, it’s wrapped in tin foil.”
  • “I don’t remember the brand, my distributor recommended it.”

Then I ask, “What is the safe drive away time (SDAT) of the urethane you use?” Invariably the tech will say “one hour.” How can it be possible that you don’t know what brand or type of urethane you use, but you always know it’s one hour SDAT?

Obviously, if you don’t know the type of urethane, you don’t know the drive-away time either. Maybe your boss or mentor told you at one time that the brand of urethane they use has a one hour SDAT. However, did they end up buying the lesser priced four-hour SDAT product and you just assumed nothing had changed? I urge my students that when changes are made to the products they use to read the labels and instructions. Obtain the technical data sheets to confirm what you are using and the performance features it delivers.

Many times businesses will shop around for products that cost less to enhance their profits, and far be it for me to condemn that practice. If a business owner is not trying to make more money through smart purchasing, he won’t be in business very long. However, when making any changes to the urethane you purchase, don’t assume the properties of one are just like another.

To avoid liability and keep your customers safe, it is vital to shop the details and make decisions based on what your business model and customers demand. Then train your technicians and support staff to understand the ramifications of the change. Now take what you know and communicate that with your customer. They will appreciate it and you will be in a safer place yourself.