by Bob Beranek
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It is that time of year again when the college football bowl season begins and the NFL starts their road to the Super Bowl. During the season, our teams raise our hopes through inspired plays and then deflate some of those hopes with bad performances (with the possible except of the Carolina Panthers). We have cheered when our teams played well and cried when they fumbled the ball. We understand that wins and losses are part of the game.

We have been part of another competition lately that many of us didn’t even know we were in—“The Recalibration Bowl.” The™ article on Monday reporting that Belron has found a way to calibrate Advanced Driver Assist Systems in the shop has brought ambivalent reactions. On one side, we as an industry have found a way to provide our customer a way to drive a safe vehicle immediately after their windshield is replaced. That is a good thing. On the other hand, of course, the provider of that valuable service is our industry’s biggest competitor, and that presents a dilemma that may put some of us behind the eight ball.

We have to give credit where credit is due. Belron used its ingenuity, vision and action on an issue that concerned us all. They did the job. Like in football, the team with the better players and game plan usually wins and “Team Belron” won this one. Team Belron, with its global presence, financial resources and dedicated research and development team, put together a game plan that looks like it might be a winner. The consumer thanks you and congratulations.

However, sometimes when the chips are down and the game is on the line, the smaller team (call them “Team Independent”) develops competitive advantages in their own right, and still win.

What does your replacement team do better than the competitors in your area? Maybe your system of supervising and managing your team provides better quality control. Do you excel at scheduling efficiency? Are your customers aware that your technicians are certified, and what that means to the safety of their families?

Team Independent may be smaller, but that may allow for better and faster reaction times than the behemoth they compete with. Team Independent are local and usually the fans’ favorite—the crowd noise can be deafening. They are there when you need them and can provide service when others won’t or can’t.

Just like the football games coming up this Holiday Season, the “Recalibration Bowl” will be fun to watch but don’t bet on the results. As Tony D’Amato said, anything can happen “on any given Sunday.”

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas from my family to yours,

Bob Beranek

I pride myself on always looking for the answers to the question “why?” Whether an issue comes up during one of my training sessions, via a customer interaction or through a colleague’s inquiry, I’m always searching for the reasoning behind a directive. Due to my time in the industry, I know many answers but I am not a “know-it-all.” I am frequently researching and seeking the truth. Lately, I have been thinking about the installation procedures I have witnessed or heard about that have stumped me. Maybe you can fill me in.

Why does an installer lay a round bead from six to eight inches off the pinchweld? This one has always bothered me. Every time I ask an installer this question, he has the same answer, “That’s the way I was taught.” Really? He was taught to do that? Why? To me it is clearly “showboating.” What possible benefit do you get from holding the caulk gun off the pinchweld and laying a round bead?

Following this method could cause you to bridge a low spot on the pinchweld, thus possibly creating a leak. The bead could separate and leave a gap or worse yet, fall onto the dash or interior mouldings and make a terrible mess. In my opinion, this method of application has no redeemable benefit. If you see an installer applying urethane in this way, please stop him and ask him why he does it. I would love to hear a good reason.

Why does a technician spank the glass into the urethane? I know that in the old days, butyl was used as the adhesive of choice and spanking the glass helped to meet the dense adhesive to the vehicle frame. However, the new liquid urethane does not need the beating of the glass to “wet out” and create the seal. A steady smoothing action is much better and much less violent. Plus, the beating of the glass could cause fracture or the stringing out of the urethane, causing a leak. There was once a relatively reasonable explanation for this practice, but it no longer makes sense.

Why do automotive glass installers still set the glass with their hands instead of vacuum cups? The number one reason given to me is that the technician doesn’t trust the cups to hold the glass securely. Show me a technician that doesn’t use cups and I’ll show you a technician that was given or purchased cheap ones. Or, once given good ones they didn’t take care of them. There are a couple of rules when using cups:

  • Place them on a smooth, clean, flat glass surface. Don’t put them over a sticker or crack. If you do, the air can seep under the cup and cause release.
  • Make sure that when storing your cups, you place them in their proper holders, every time. If cups are thrown on the floor of your service vehicle, the debris can cut or gouge the seal of the cup, thus rendering them worthless.
  • Keep the sealing rubber of the cup and any “O” rings supple and lubricated. If the rubber on the cups is allowed to dry out or dry rot, the cups will need repair or replacement. However, if taken care of, they can last a long time.

I’m sure that many of you out there also have some “whys” to get answered and I’d love to help. Don’t hold back. When you see a procedure or act that appears unusual or interesting, ask the simplest of questions. Why?

I never knew there was such a thing as an OEM windshield warranty. But apparently there is. And now I’ve learned that one has been extended. I received the head’s up from one of my friends at American AutoGlass Administrators in the United Kingdom, namely Brian Butterworth. He passed along a notice sent to Subaru owners concerning a problem with the original equipment (OE) windshield equipped with a wiper park heater. The warranty on the windshields was extended from three years or 36,000 miles to five years and unlimited miles for a defect in the manufacturing of the OE windshield. According to the letter, the glass is manufactured by Carlex.

Evidently, there is a compound used to adhere the heating element to the glass and the compound can cause a superficial damage that can become a full blown crack. What I think they mean by a superficial damage is a divot rather than a chip that breaks the outer layer of glass. When the heating element is activated with the use of the defroster, there is a concentrated heat spike that can cause a minor divot to become an unrepairable crack.

This damage could be mistaken for a stress break or thermal break because of its location at the bottom of the windshield and the absence of a definite chip in the glass. If the cause can be traced to a rock chip rather than a minor glass divot, the dealership will not pay for the replacement or repair. However, if the break appears to be caused without a chip in the glass and the crack comes in contact with the heating element location, the dealership is required to cover the damage.

Subaru warns that the glass must be the OE part and not a replacement. The OEM will not cover any chips or breaks outside of the heating element area. The company will reimburse the customer for a replacement as long as there was out-of-pocket expense to the customer.

I recommend that all glass shops and technicians be aware of this condition so they can intelligently advise their customers. Contact your local dealer and obtain a copy of the letter sent to their customers. It was dated, October 23, 2015 and titled “Important Notice: Warranty Extension for Windshields Cracking at Deicer On 2015 and early production 2016 Legacy and Outback.” It does contain reimbursement requirements. Glass shops may also be contacted to get replacement invoices from past replacements on 2015-2016 Subaru Legacy and Outback models for reimbursements.