by Bob Beranek
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Since I began in the auto glass industry, technicians have regularly complained of poor glass quality. I remember the DW725-26 Chrysler windshield that had a bend problem that reached unbelievable proportions.  The edges and bottom could be placed dry and directly on the pinchweld and the top center had almost an inch gap off the pinchweld. That was a problem. I remember having to convince Volvo owners that their desire to have OE glass installed was a mistake, because OE didn’t fit. The glass was too small and the moldings would not cover the gap between the glass edge and the pinchweld wall, causing the moldings to rattle or blow off. I had to sell them on the Safeguard FW404 and OE clips to make it work.

It has occurred to me lately that as a technician, I never brought my concerns to the people that could do anything about quality issues; the glass manufacturers. I just adjusted my install to compensate for poor quality glass, complained to my fellow technicians and continued on. That was wrong.

Recently I have been hearing complaints on glass quality again. Extreme protrusion of laminate, mirror pads put on crooked and falling off, glass being out of bend, VIN windows being misplaced, and attachments poorly applied. These add time and money to each installation and in some situations they can stop the installation completely.

It seems obvious that the quality of some glass pieces has deteriorated. However, if you have read my recent posts I think it is evident that glass quality will and must be improved or the manufacturers will soon be out of business. Proof of that statement is a recent glassBYTES article in which Pilkington has announced a huge upgrade to their Kentucky plant that will improve quality and increase production. That is a good sign and a step in the right direction.

What I am saying is that if you want better quality glass you must fight for it. How many of you have gone to your supplier with a complaint and they tell you, “We have not had any complaints about that problem before”?  Is it that we don’t protest enough? Do we simply deal with the defect and continue on with the installation like I used to do?

Technicians have to demand higher quality to get higher quality. I believe in the old adage, “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.” If a glass manufacturer or distributor doesn’t know that there is a fit problem with certain part numbers, or if they don’t know that glass quality is important to you, they will supply what sells. At this point, that may be glass that is the lowest price (with marginal quality.)

You can’t expect suppliers to feel your pain unless you are direct with your expectations. Glass manufacturers are in business to sell glass and make a profit.  If you keep quiet and ignore the problems, you will get what sells, not what you want. It is in our best interests, and our duty to our customers, to speak up about poor quality glass. The moral of this story is that the manufacturers cannot deliver to us what we want unless they know what that is. We as aftermarket consumers of auto glass must voice our likes and dislikes or we will be subject to the only thing the manufacturers know; sales. If you want change, speak up. If you want quality, pay for it.

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