by Bob Beranek

Back in 2013, I wrote an article for Technically Speaking called “The Seven Steps of Installation Pre-Inspection.” 2013 does not feel that long ago, but new technology has underlined the importance of pre-inspections beyond even what they were in the past.

Interaction with the customer before work begins and the inspection of the vehicle for pre-existing defects are still very important. To review, the tech should look for:

  • Early signs of corrosion. If corrosion is visible before mouldings are removed, it is an indication that there is more corrosion present under the glass or moulding. It may be necessary to discuss bodywork or the possibility of refusing to complete the installation entirely.
  • Moulding fit. If the moulding is not fitting flush to the body or glass, it could indicate a hidden problem with a previous installation. This also should be discussed with the customer.
  • Missing or damaged parts. This also can indicate a previous installation. It could mean the installation may take longer to complete to the customer’s satisfaction.
  • Aftermarket paint jobs. Usually appears as “orange peel” texture, improper color matching or over spray on mouldings. This can indicate previous bodywork. This may cause problems with glass fit or paint peeling by removal of the moulding or protective tape.
  • Interior or exterior stains or damage. Check the seats, floor, headliner and interior garnish mouldings. Some stains may indicate a leak that should be addressed before work begins. While others can mean that some exterior parts may be loose or misplaced causing water or air seepage.
  • Electronic and mechanical items. These include wipers, washers, radio, lights, window regulators, power door locks, rain/light sensors, remote start, etc. Make sure all mechanicals are in working order before beginning work or inoperable mechanicals are discussed with the owner.

Today there is even more to look at and deem suitable for auto glass replacement. With the advent of the Advanced Driver Assist Systems (ADAS) and the increased complexity of modern vehicles, the importance of pre-inspection or “Vehicle Assessment” is more important than ever.

We also now have more to consider when approaching the vehicle for glass replacement. Be sure to look for:

  • Advanced Driver Assistance Systems. Is there ADAS present? How do I handle it with the customer? Do I recalibrate or pass it along to the local dealership? If I am doing the recalibration, are all conditions correct for accurate calibrations? Does this vehicle require static calibration, dynamic calibration or both? Does it need a wheel alignment before the recalibration can be performed accurately? Your CSR or dispatcher can be trained to pre-qualify the customer and schedule accordingly, but pre-inspecting and customer interaction is the best for all concerned.
  • Pre/post scans. It is becoming common to pre- and post-scan a vehicle whenever it is repaired or maintained. The scans can pinpoint issues before they become bigger. Some of the items found on a scan cannot be remedied by an auto glass technician but should be found and communicated to the customer prior to doing any work on the vehicle. Post-scans can indicate if something you did caused a fault code to be triggered. This will alert the auto glass technician of possible concerns before leaving the keys with the customer.
  • Tools and their usage. We have a wide array of tools at our disposal. Power tools, new hand tools and setting tools all made to make our job easier and safer. The pre-inspection time should also be used to determine the best tool for the job based on what is observed and investigated by the customer interview. If the vehicle demands zero damage to the pinchweld due to exposure to the painted surfaces, then possibly a wire-out tool rather than a power or hand tool would be better to use. If the glass and installation expose a prior installation, then expect issues like corrosion, vehicle damage and missing parts to be part of your installation.

Modern installations are becoming very complex and technologically advanced. We must be on top of the new changes and be prepared to adjust our pre (and post) inspections to document any existing problems and preserve a record of the work that was done, both for the safety of the customer and to protect yourself from liability.

The fall season is here, and there are a few things you may need to adjust to compensate for the colder weather.

  • Clothing – Colder weather means proper clothing should be acquired for comfort and quality installations. A cold technician hurries through their installations and can cut corners. You should dress in layers, so when the day wears on and temperatures rise a layer of clothing can come off.

    Photo courtesy of

    Photo courtesy of

  • Scheduling – It’s great to do installations in the open air during the summer and spring. However, the cold winds of the fall and winter are not as pleasant. Make sure to schedule jobs with shelter available as often as possible because cold winds and wet weather are not conducive to proper installations.
  • Tools – You might be able to get by with dull blades and cold knives in the summertime but fall brings stiffer and harder to cut urethane beads. Make sure your blades are sharpened in the morning and honed up during the day and that your power tools are in good working order.
  • Parts – Cooler weather brings more brittle plastic parts. Make sure your parts box is stocked and inventoried. Also you should have your heat gun and hair dryer at the ready to warm up vinyl and dry out pinchwelds. The sun is not as warm in the fall so be prepared to smooth out that “washboard” moulding before you leave each job.
  • Adhesives – Sealants and adhesives will be stiffer in colder temps. Keep them warm by taking them in the shop at night. During the day you can keep them warm by exposing them to warmer air blowing from the floor heaters. I do not recommend using your defrosters on the dashboard, as that can make those cartridges or packages flying projectiles in case of an accident. Check with your adhesive manufacturers’ instructions so you will know what you can and cannot do when storing your chemicals.
  • Primers – Most primers have a longer drying time in colder weather. Make sure you check the proper timing and adjust your installation procedures to compensate.
  • ADAS – Many Advanced Driver Assist Systems (ADAS) turn themselves off when the cameras and sensors cannot see the road markings due to rain or snow. You should be aware of this and make sure your customer knows recalibration is required even though the system has shut itself down.
  • MDAT – The Minimum Drive Away Times (MDAT) may have to be adjusted to compensate for cooler and dryer temperature. Some adhesive systems do not need any adjustments except for some primer dry times, however others do need to be adjusted according to the heat and humidity of the day. Keep you MDAT charts available for reference.

There have been discussions about carmakers requiring pre & post scans when doing any repair work on their vehicles lately. “Scanning” means using a tool to read the vehicle’s On-Board Diagnostic (OBDII) computer.

The scan taps into the OBDII port under the driver side dashboard and flags “fault” codes that are tripped by things that cause problems for the vehicle. Dealerships, body shops and other repair facilities are already required to perform a pre-scan prior to beginning any repair procedure to make sure there are no undetermined issues to deal with, along with and a post-scan after the repair is complete to confirm the repair.

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

Vehicle technology built into the modern vehicle is categorized under two headings, safety related or performance related. Safety related technology is the most important. If safety related features are not performing properly, the repair facility is obligated to fix the problem. An example might be the Advanced Driver Assist Systems (ADAS). I say “might be” because it is still unclear if ADAS is an “assist” system or a “safety” system.

Some safety systems are noticeable to the driver via lights, sounds, and warnings that pop up on the dash or fill the cab with audible warnings. Others are intertwined with other systems that are read by the scan of the vehicle and are not obvious to the driver. The carmaker wants to make sure the vehicle owner has the most current safety technology up and working correctly.  Directing and requiring scans help assure the safety of occupants in the vehicle.

The other scanning requirement is of performance related technology. Vehicle owners spend thousands of dollars to have the latest in performance features and expect them to be in working order. When an owner enters a repair facility, they expect their vehicle to be in the same working order as when it arrived at the repair shop. Pre & post scans assure the customer of that expectation.

What does this have to do with auto glass? Our challenge is to step up. This new technology has reached our industry through our connection to ADAS and with other glass related systems. We must rise to the level of professionalism of our sister industries.

More and more auto repairers pinpoint systems that are not operating properly through a pre-scan process. They then deliver that vehicle back to the owners, with all of the systems repaired and operating at peak performance and safety; which are documented through the post-scan process.  Our industry cannot be any less of a service provider.

There are dozens of scanners available to the professional and consumer and can range from under $100 to thousands. Each scanner offers different levels of performance from superficial readings for the car owner to global scans that professionals use to diagnosis complex systems.

My advice – do your homework and determine the scanner that will fit the needs of your shop. Purchase and use it on every vehicle. When an issue shows itself, determine if you have the ability and equipment to repair the problem. If not, inform the customer of the issue and suggest a repair by a professional that can complete it.