by Bob Beranek
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I’m sure that many of you have noticed that there has been a higher number of noise complaints recently. Have you ever wondered why? The answer is exposed edge glass mounting. Since the popularity of exposed edge glass mounting came into being with the Saint Gobain’s Pre-Applied Adhesive System (PAAS), many other vehicle manufacturers have noticed the benefits of its design.

  • There are fewer parts to design and manufacturer;
  • Less labor costs to install the finishing moldings;
  • Without an over-glass molding there is less drag and better fuel economy; and
  • More aesthetically appealing.

There are also some pros and cons for the auto glass technician as well.

Pros

  • No moldings to take off so installation times are reduced;
  • No clips to be broken and replaced so costs are reduced.

Cons

  • Removal damage easily visible;
  • Bead application must be precise or cleanup is a problem;
  • Noise complaints increase.

Today, I want to address the noise complaint issue. Have you ever had a customer complain, “That ever since the glass was replaced, there is a noise they’ve never heard before?” I think we all have. The fact is that the noise is not new, it is just different.

All vehicles have noises manufactured in them the day we drive it off the lot. If the noise is such that we cannot tolerate them, we don’t buy the vehicle. However, if the sounds are minor, or don’t irritate us particularly, we will buy the vehicle and live with the noise. Eventually, we don’t hear it anymore because we get used to it, and, in our minds, it ceases to exist.

Then comes Otto’s Glass to replace the windshield and the gap between the exposed edge of the glass, and the wall of the pinchweld is slightly different than before. If it is a smaller gap, there is a higher pitched “whistle.” If it is a larger gap, there is an “air rush” sound. Either way, the sound is different not new. There is no such thing as zero sound.

Air has to go somewhere when it comes in contact with the vehicle. If it is forced between the glass and the body gap, the rush of air will create a noise. How that noise is heard depends on where it enters the gap, travels through the length of the gap and how it escapes. The only way to stop the noise complaint is to disrupt the air flow thus stopping the air from creating a rush or whistle.

Here are some actions you can take to reduce the noise complaints:

  • Add a moulding – Yes, it will change the look, but does the customer want a quiet ride or stylish looks? Sometimes you can’t have both. If you are a good salesman, you can sell them on a “J” moulding which will most definitely remove the noise issue, but it will also be the most noticeable to the customer. Or, you could suggest or install an underside moulding which will be far less noticeable but is not as fail safe as the addition of a “J” moulding. The underside moulding will divert the air causing the noise.
  • Measure and replicate the size of the gap – Use a shim or measuring device to note the size of the gap between the glass edge and the wall of the pinchweld. Then exactly replicate the gap upon setting the glass into the opening. Adjust where needed.
  • Disrupt the air flow by adding a strategic ball of adhesive – If the vehicle has “A” pillar moldings but has an exposed edge top, you should place a small ball of butyl tape or dollop of urethane under the side moldings and between the glass edge and the pinchweld wall. This will disrupt the flow of the air and eliminate air rush or an upper corner wind whistle.
  • Make sure the glass surface is slightly below the flush-point of the roof line – It is a little known fact that the glass should be slightly inset into the opening for exposed edge glass. This directive came from BMW many years ago for their vehicles. BMW even had a tool that looked like the shape of the state of Nebraska to measure the indentation. That tool should not be used to measure all vehicles because all vehicles have different roof configurations, but the glass should be slightly indented into the opening and not be flush to the roof line.

I hope these tips and ideas will help with your reduction of noise complaints. Just remember that the noise they hear is not new, just different.

Since I started my career in the auto glass business, I have seen some serious changes over the years.  Some of them we might label as good and others as bad. However, what do those definitions really mean?

Consider the word “good.” Is it good for profits? Is it good for the technician? Is it good for the consumer? Or, is it good for the industry? Over the years, I have had many a debate with others in our industry on these issues but have never come to a consensus of what is good for all concerned. What might be good for profits, may not be good for the technician. What might be good for the technician, may not be good for the consumer. And so on.

Like any industry, when new vehicles are introduced, problems are identified and solutions are found.  Unfortunately, the solutions may very well satisfy one problem but cause another problem somewhere else. Rarely do the problem solvers take into consideration all of the aspects involved with the big picture. Their only duty is to solve the problem presented.

Case in point, recalibration. Who would have foreseen this issue coming ten years ago? Yes, we saw technology progressing. But could we see that those of us in the aftermarket would need to be involved with the tools, software and expertise necessary to recalibrate an entire vehicle after glass replacement? I didn’t.

When asked to estimate the cost of tools for auto glass replacement by my clients, I could estimate the hand tools, the power tools and specialty tools and come up with a price at retail of about $2,000 to $3,000. Now, with the necessity for recalibration, you may spend five or six times that amount. When asked to estimate the cost of starting an auto glass business, I was able to estimate the cost of a “bricks and mortar” business to be around a $10,000 to $20,000 to begin business, day one. Today, you must consider the infrastructure of the building and size of the service bays to have level floors and thirty feet in front of the vehicle for recalibration. This could double or triple that startup investment.

Now that this technology is here, decisions are being made to deal with this new challenge. Owners are asking, “Will my technicians need additional training and learn new skills sets?” Will my current way of doing business need to be changed to accommodate the new demands of technology? What about the future? Will my investments in the current technology pay off, or will new upcoming systems make them obsolete?

None of us can see the future. We can only use our experience, research future trends and act on what is best for our immediate needs. Owning an auto glass business isn’t always easy. In the short term, at least, it has become even more difficult. Successful business owners have to be realists as well as fortune tellers. Embrace the changes caused by recalibration because this need is going to “cull the herd” so to speak. The need for a professional auto glass shop is greater than ever, and those who pay attention to what that means will come out on top.

It’s the end of the year and most of us have already dealt with Christmas wish lists from our friends and family. I thought I would make a New Year’s wish list for our industry.

  • I wish that all the confusion over Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) would disappear.  Not completely—the technology will make us safer. Just make it easier for technicians in the aftermarket to understand. How about making it all self-calibrating so we don’t have to worry about it. I would love to see this on all vehicles equipped with ADAS.

“The calibration process for the front view camera system is necessary when a front view camera module is replaced by a new one. This process shall not be required when only replacing the windshield and the front view camera module has been mounted again properly.” -2014 Cadillac CTS Sedan AWD V6-3.6L Service Manual.

  • I wish all technicians were adequately trained. Make the hackers disappear and the rookies gain experience quickly. We are all sick of fixing other people’s screw-ups and repairing the vehicles they damage.
  • I wish that the insurance industry and the consumers would realize we are replacing a safety device and not a seat cover or molding. This is serious stuff. Why are we arguing about price when peoples’ lives and well-being are at stake?
  • I wish mobile installations would go away. I started in the auto glass industry when mobile service was young. I admit I liked the idea of riding around without my boss looking over my shoulder. However, the shop job is objectively better than a mobile one. Less cost, more productivity, better working conditions and a more comfortable work environment translates into better, more profitable installations.
  • I wish for two-man trucks. Realizing I can’t have everything, if mobile work is inevitable, then I wish for some company to share the work load. I’ll get better sets and be better off health-wise with some help. I’ll also have an added benefit to have someone to talk to during long trips and heavy traffic.
  • I wish that the glass companies will up their game in quality control. Crooked mirror pads, upside down camera brackets, PVB oozing out the edges, mirror pads falling off are all little annoyances the techs must fix before they can do their job.
  • Lastly, and more importantly, I wish all my friends, colleagues, competitors, suppliers, customers, clients and readers a happy New Year. From my family to yours, we wish that your 2018 and all the coming years are successful and profitable.

Happy New Year!