Wire-out Techniques

Modern day wire-out tools are becoming more necessary with every new vehicle introduction.

Government standards now mandate an average fuel economy of 54.5 miles per gallon for the 2025 model year, according to the New York Times. To meet that new standard, glass must be thinner and be as flush to the body as possible to reduce weight and drag.

The close tolerances demand different or better cut-out tools to reduce damage to the paint and remove the glass without breaking it.

This is part of the reason why a number of wire-out tools are being introduced to the market. Each tool has its pros and cons, and each does a very good job of removing glass without damage.

However, the biggest complaint about wire tools is the time it takes to set up and operate the tool. Time is frequently the deciding factor when purchasing a tool. Even the best wire-out professionals acknowledge that the process takes longer than other methods. The trade-off, they argue, is the reduction in damage is worth the extra time.

That may be true, but when a small business needs to pay its people and keep a business running in a competitive market, being productive with time is a key component.

I believe that you can do both – be productive and provide a quality glass removal without damage. It takes skill, practice and knowledge of what to look for (and at) to facilitate the fastest removal with wire.  What should you consider?

  • Is the glass original equipment (OE)? If it is, and if it does not have gravity stops at the bottom, then you will have to separate the guide pins at the top edge of the glass before proceeding with the removal. This is done by using a flexible sharpened putty knife or paddle tool blade to separate the pins from the glass surface. Otherwise, the pins can cause the wire or cord to break, thus prolonging the removal. If the glass is not OE, you may want to use wire instead of cord to make the removal easier. A previous installer may have used larger and thicker beads than the OE installer and the wire will cut through them better than the cord.
  • Cord or wire? That is entirely up to the technician. The wire cuts the urethane, and the cord is pulled through it. Cord is reusable if used correctly, but wire is a consumable discarded after every use. Cord is usually more expensive than wire, but due to its reuse capability, that may come out as the same cost.
  • The smaller the angle, the easier the tool works. The lower the degree of angle (under 90 degrees), the easier the cut and the less likely the wire will break during removal. A good angle is 45 degrees; 30 degrees is better and 15 is better yet. When the wire gets to 90 degrees of the tool’s spindle, move the tool closer to a corner edge and continue the cut.
  • Keep the wire as close to the inside glass surface as possible. This will aid in the ease of the cut and prevent possible damage to the interior garnish moulding. To achieve this, use the protective pad included in the kit or use a plastic stick to force the wire to the interior surface – or develop your own method.
  • Clean the interior surface of the glass and wipe down the vacuum cup for best suction to the glass. There is a great deal of tension on the wire, cord and cup. If the glass is dirty or the cup is wet or soiled, the cup will not hold suction and it can “walk” on you. Clean all surfaces before you begin glass removal.
  • Some tools work best when the distance between the spindle and the bead is less than three feet. Anything longer will put more tension on the wire or cord and cause it to break prematurely.
  • If you have a manual wire tool rather than a power tool, it may be easier to feel when the wire is at a breaking point. If you feel that the wire is tensing up, make short pulls and then allow the wire to rest. Then repeat as often as necessary until you feel the wire pull easier. This usually occurs around the corners and at the end of the cutout.
  • If you have a power tool, listen to the drain on the power tool as a hint of wire tension. If the tool sounds like it is struggling to pull the wire, inspect it to determine the cause of the obstruction. It could be a burr in the metal under the glass or the wire could be under the metal of the lower pinchweld. If so, relax the wire and get it between the glass and the adhesive.
  • Be extremely careful around the VIN plate – the wire can cut off the VIN plate easily. You DO NOT want to cut off the VIN plate. This has happened to me, and it is a major problem that involves the vehicle manufacturer, the state government and the owner. Make sure your wire is above the plate when it gets to that area of the urethane bead.

Each wire-out tool has its own little hints and tricks for efficient use. I urge you to listen to the manufacturer, learn and use those tricks. They are well worth the effort and training. Good luck.