by Bob Beranek
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I’ve been in the auto glass industry for forty years, and over that time there have been things that concern me. It seems many technicians and shop owners don’t realize the importance of our profession. Over the years I’ve seen both the good and bad times.

When I started as an installer, the only concern I has was having a leak-free installation and cleaning up after myself properly. I remember the first time I pulled a cold knife through polyurethane. I remember dealing with the glass lying flat on the pinchweld because carmakers couldn’t understand the difference between liquid urethane and dense butyl tape as it relates to glass support. I remember the difficulties explaining Safe Drive Away Time (SDAT) to customers who were used to driving away immediately after an installation. I remember when every installation was billed directly to insurance companies. I remember the immergence of third-party administrators. Finally, I remember when auto glass became a safety device that contributed to other safety devices.

I had dinner with one of my friends from the neighborhood I grew up in. He was a fire fighter and proud of his profession, as he should be. He asked me what I was doing now. When I said I was an auto glass technician, I got the feeling he didn’t really respect my career choice. Is the career of an auto glass technician is unimportant?

There’s no doubt a fire fighter’s career is important, they put their lives in danger for our wellbeing. However, during that dinner I wanted to make a point. So, I asked him how many people he’s pulled from a burning building and how many lives he saved during his career? His answer was none. Although he was involved with dozens of fires during his career, all of them concerned property damage and were not life threatening. I then told him that as an auto glass technician we save lives every day with each glass replacement. Unfortunately, I don’t think many auto glass technicians realize their responsibility for protecting their customers’ lives because if they did, they wouldn’t try to short-cut a job because it’s easier. Instead, they would do what was necessary to do the job right and wouldn’t answer an inquiry about a questionable procedure with, “I don’t know, I never had a problem with that.”

I’ll admit when I was a rookie installer, I wasn’t always full of pride for my job. I didn’t brag about putting glass into cars and making them leak-free. However, in 2019, I’m proud to say I am a master certified auto glass technician who saves lives every day and shows others how to too.

Photo Courtesy of Trifive.com

I can always tell when a technician was trained by an “old-timer” like me. How? They “spank” or slap the glass into position rather than smooth it in place to make the seal. It comes from the old days when glass had to be spanked and seated into a gasket or when dense butyl tape needed to be forced down to contact uneven pinchwelds. Liquid urethanes call for smoothing the seal, not spanking or slapping the glass into place.

First, let me say it’s not necessarily wrong to slap the glass. It is, rather, ill-advised. There are two negative results that can happen when a glass is slapped rather than smoothed.

  • If the glass is thin, chipped or scratched, then the chance of premature breakage is increased. If the glass is “hot,” the glass is more volatile and can fracture. Some of these issues can and should be caught by the technician prior to installing. However, how hard is too hard to slap the glass into place? It only takes one break to lose your profit and possibly a customer to inconvenience.
  • The second negative issue involves leaking and bonding. Curved glass has a spring to it. It can be depressed as much as a couple of inches before breakage and then sprung back to its original shape or curvature. If the bead of urethane is short and the glass is slapped at its apex, it can make contact and then “string out,” causing leaks and bonding problems. If it is smoothed-out, the urethane bead is redistributed into weak areas, making for a more solid bond and leak-free installation.

If I said I never spanked or slapped the glass, I would be a liar. There are instances where a slight slap is necessary. If you have a large, tall or awkward vehicle where leveraged pressure can’t be applied to the edge of the glass, such as in large service vans, then a slight tap on the top and bottom center may be called for. Of course, this is after a careful inspection of the glass part conducted during the prep stage and that the glass is not exposed to excessive heat.

My advice is to use slapping only when you must and only when the glass was carefully inspected for pre-installation damage. Keep the glass out of bright hot sunlight for as long as possible prior to installation into the opening. Reduce the violence used in past installations as much as you can. The customer will feel less anxious if watching the process and vehicle and glass damage will be reduced to increase profits.

 

I saw a topic on an industry forum run by glassBYTEs that was titled “Hey Bob Beranek!”  Well, I couldn’t ignore that and promised the subject writer I’d answer his questions as best as I can. The questions and answers may help you too.

  1. Should every new install with ADAS be re-calibrated (or at least checked), or only if things don’t seem to be working accurately?

According to Opti-Aim, a recalibration should be completed on every ADAS equipped vehicle after a windshield replacement. Why? The reason – although a fault code may not be triggered/tripped, the camera, bracket, or both may not be perfectly positioned for maximum performance. As I’ve said in previous posts, even if the camera or LIDAR is a millimeter off, it can cause big differences at the reference point. It can mean feet or yards off of being perfect.

  1. What about aftermarket glass? Should only OEM glass be used when ADAS is involved?

Most third-party calibrators can recalibrate aftermarket parts if the ARG parts meet OE specs. However, if the bracket is so far off that it’s outside the limits of the units aiming ability, that part will not allow the unit to be properly recalibrated.

The only way of making sure the glass can be recalibrated properly in advance is by using OE parts. That’s why many dealerships require OE glass before agreeing to do a recalibration. They don’t want to waste time recalibrating something that doesn’t work, or they want to limit their liability.

  1. Is an aftermarket glass from say Pilkington (DOT-15) the same as an OEM Honda branded glass that is marked Pilkington (DOT-15)?

That’s a good question for Pilkington. I will let you know what I find out. I do know Pilkington guarantees they can recalibrate any Pilkington part no matter if it is OE or not, if their calibration tool (Opti-Aim) is used.

Recalibration is complicated and a rapidly changing issue. There are liabilities, products, tools, adhesives, procedures and vehicle design both public and proprietary that come into play. There are scanners, lasers, cameras, LIDAR, and sensors of every type and style mounted to dozens of different parts of the vehicle. Some apply to us and others don’t. We all hope for is a simplified or standardized system that can be recalibrated or self-calibrated. Right now none of us know it but I’ll do my best to keep you up to date.

 Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of my Readers!