by Bob Beranek

Look at all the acronyms. Most of my readers already know what these mean: ARG – Aftermarket Replacement Glass, OE – Original Equipment Glass, and ADAS – Advanced Driver Assistance Systems. You probably also know the problems we have been having lately. In this blog, I will attempt to explain why some ARG parts cannot be used in (some) vehicles that have been equipped with an ADAS.

The first thing to understand is that fractions of an inch make a huge difference. When aiming a projectile or a beam, any fraction of an inch movement at the source will result in huge differences at the target. It may result in the target being missed completely. If the opening that the projectile or beam must go through is limited in size and configuration, then the aiming is limited to that opening. Recalibration is the aiming of a lens of a camera or a beam at road markings to align, stop or steer the vehicle. If the aiming of that device is off by even tiny fractions of an inch, it can mean the difference between life and sustaining injury. 

If you notice, most glass parts used in a vehicle with ADAS have a unique parallelogram cutout in the third visor frit near the mirror. This cutout has the parameters that the camera, laser or LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) can be aimed through or adjusted within. If that cutout is smaller, deformed or misplaced, the aiming device may not be able to be adjusted to meet the criteria of the vehicle specifications. It is imperative that the frit cutout is precise to allow for adjustment. Now add to that the mounting bracket attached to the interior windshield surface. If that bracket is off another fraction of an inch, that can compromise the calibration as well.

Frankly, I can understand the carmaker’s requirement of OE parts being used when ADAS is present. Do I find this as a problem for my business of auto glass replacement? Yes, I do. It means that I must order my glass from the appropriate dealer, then wait for delivery to that dealer, then spend time to pick up the part at the dealer and finally pay the dealer a much higher price than an ARG part. If the glass was not damaged in shipment by inexperienced glass handlers, then I replace the windshield and take it back to the dealer for recalibration and pay another fee for the service. I find this arduous at best. I’m just being nice, it is freaking ridiculous.

In a past post, I discussed my optimism in ARG glass manufacturers “upping their game.” I do believe this to be true. I believe that they will improve their “reverse engineering” practices. I believe that they will tighten their tolerances to closely match the OE. I believe that they will improve quality control standards to make them viable and competitive.  Because, if they don’t, they won’t be here very long. I urge all of my readers that if they find that their ARG part is deficient in regard to safety, make your displeasure known. Retain the offending glass part in case the glass manufacturer wants it back to examine it.

I also believe that “cheap” windshields will no longer be a common product. We will have to pay more for quality goods, and we will have to “up our game” as well. Will cheap windshields still exist? Yes. However, be prepared for the possibility that the ADAS will not be able to be calibrated.

I believe that our industry is going to improve and be better for this technology boom. I think this safety technology will weed out the riff-raff and reward the true professionals with better quality goods, higher labor charges and more profits. If you can survive this industry-altering change, you will be stronger and better off for it. That is my belief.

Bob Beranek is the president of Automotive Glass Consultants Inc. 

Comments (4)

  1. Wayne Martin said on 28-09-2017

    What is being done In the AGR industry to step up tolerances? Sounds to me that the mobile service will be reduced and the hacks and cheap windshield replaments are on their way out. I’m all for it!

  2. Joe Estrada said on 28-09-2017

    Well said Bob,

  3. Christopher Golden said on 22-03-2018

    I work as a recalibration technician for a glass company. We use an Optiaim by Pilkington and so far there hasn’t been any issues ARG glass installs outside of Cadillacs. GM has officially change their statement on self calibration. The statement now says calibration is necessary after the windshield is replaced. The problem I have run into with Cadillacs is the trapezoid in the frit does not lineup with camera. Most of the Cadillacs will still work properly however. The one exception so far is the Escalade. It’s odd though since the Suburban and Yukon are practically the same vehicle and everything lines up perfectly with these vehicles. I’ve been able to successfully calibrate Subarus and Hondas with no issues with AGR glass even though they state otherwise. The most difficult part of my job so far is getting approval from the TPAs(specifically Safelite Solutions) to get the ok to do the calibration for the vehicle to ensure everything is functioning properly. I do feel that that the pricing for calibration is too high and needs to be brought down specifically for dynamics since they can be done in under 20 minutes. However, static calibrations do require much more time therefore should cost more.

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