by Bob Beranek
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It seems that every year about this time I write about cold weather installations. However, it’s an important topic and after last week’s post concerning the potential demise of mobile installations, I felt winter installation is a good issue to piggyback on to that one.

How cold is “cold?” For our purposes, I’ll define cold as below 40 degrees. However, every technician I know in northern climates has done installations in below freezing temperatures, and most have worked below 0 degrees. They hate it.

Mouldings and trim are more brittle and break easier, chemicals and adhesives have to be warmed for ease of use, the glass cleaner freezes as soon as it hits the glass, you have to get the keys and warm up the vehicle, and, man, it is just cold out there.

I believe the customer already knows cold weather installs are not ideal. That’s one of the factors for a downturn in business every winter. Yes, I know that there are other good reasons for business slowdowns in the winter – less travel, less road construction and snow doesn’t break windshields.  However, there is something to be said for those many customers in my career who have told me, “I’ll wait until spring to get my glass fixed.”

Can a windshield be installed safely in the winter? Yes, it can. However, there are a number of things that must be done to assure that the installation is safe and the technician is comfortable:

  • Read the technical data sheets and adhesive instructions for storage and use requirements.
  • Don’t store your chemicals where they can be frozen. Some adhesives do not have detrimental effects if frozen, but some do. Does yours? What about primers, adhesives and cleaners? All of these may need room temperature storage. If your service vehicle is not parked in a heated garage overnight, then you’ll have to bring in your chemicals every night.
  • Get the keys to the vehicle and warm it up before beginning. Ask for permission and check the gas gauge. You would hate to run the customer’s car out of fuel.
  • Remove all snow and wetness from the top of the vehicle so the warming car does not melt snow and allow water to flow onto the pinchweld and bonding areas.
  • Allow for longer drying times for primers and preps. The urethane will give you longer tack-free times and working times but also longer safe drive-away times (SDAT).
  • A cold technician hurries the job and makes mistakes. Dress warmly and in layers so when the day warms up layers can be removed for comfort. If you get too cold while doing the job, take a break and get in your warm service vehicle. Oh, by the way, keep your vehicle running all day to keep chemicals and adhesives warm and malleable.
  • Use a more moderate viscosity adhesive so it can be decked smoothly and evenly. Some high-viscosity adhesives will not allow you to deck the glass to the finished position.

I know there are technicians who have no choice in doing mobile installations because they do not have a bricks and mortar shop to which vehicles can be taken. However, if you take a look at the points above and calculate the costs of extra fuel, wouldn’t it be better and more profitable if you just schedule your work “in shop” – or at least indoors?  Then, you may be able to convince all your customers that shop installation is better for quality and scheduling, not to mention more profitable for you’re the service provider. Stay warm out there.

A few years ago, I was asked to judge an auto glass installation competition at a large western glass company. That company planned on having the competition at a race track in their area so spectators would be able to watch. The temperature that day was going to exceed 100°F and the vehicles were parked outside in full sunlight.

When the judges arrived, we checked the adhesive instructions which stated that the application temperature should not exceed 110°F. Obviously, we were concerned about the high temperatures surrounding the competition. However, when the instructions said “application temperature” did they mean product temperature, surface temperature or ambient temperature?  What would be the ramifications of applying the adhesive in extreme temperatures?

We had an adhesive representative who was present for the competition, so we asked him for advice. Unfortunately, he did not know the exact answer, and due to the fact that the competition was occurring on a weekend, we were unable to contact a technical advisor at the adhesive company’s technical lab.

Through some serious discussion between the replacement company owner, the adhesive representative and the judges, we decided to take steps to cool down everything involved with the installation. We placed the glass and adhesives into air-conditioned service vehicles to make sure that the glass surface and the adhesives were well under the temperature limit of 110°F. We also started the vehicles and ran the air-conditioning in advance of the competition to assure that the vehicle was cooled down before the competition proceeded. We weren’t sure at the time what the upper temperature limit of the “Application Temperature” meant, but we were certainly not going to install glass under conditions contraindicated by the sealant manufacturers.

Since that incident occurred, I have researched this issue and found that there are different consequences for applying adhesives beyond their temperature limits. They can include bonding deficiencies, application problems and storage concerns. Obviously, the most important of these consequences is the bonding problem. If the sealant does not bond properly, the result could be injury or death caused by improper glass performance in a crash.

If the adhesive loses its viscosity, the adhesive pre-maturely cures, and waste is the obvious result. If the adhesive loses its thickness due to higher than normal temperatures, it can drip onto the customer’s interior causing vehicle damage. Under extreme heat conditions, the weight of the glass can flatten the windshield to the pinchweld’s metal and cause a stress fracture. Lastly, if sealants are stored improperly, the product cannot be expected to be to perform as promised.

The moral of the story and the research we conducted says one thing, temperature matters and caution must be exercised to insure proper performance of your adhesive products. Check your adhesive’s technical data and installation instructions for temperature limitations.  If for some reason the data is missing or not clear, check with your adhesive rep. If the rep is unsure, check with the adhesive company’s technical expert for clarity. This is important. It is not enough to go through the procedures perfectly if you don’t know your products limitations. Do it right every time and think before you proceed.

There are three recalls of interest to discuss this week. Two are installation-related and the last one is a warning of possible blame. The first two involve care and caution during a door glass installation.

The Chrysler driver side door wiring harness is made with too low of a gauge wire that could cause a fire. One of the first warning signs, however, could be the door glass mechanism and switch malfunctioning. If you are called about a door glass malfunction on this brand new vehicle, make sure that the customer is aware of the recall before you begin the repair. You do not want to be blamed for a fire after the fact.

Report Receipt Date: August 05, 2014

National Traffic Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) Campaign Number: 14V480000

Component(s):

Potential Number of Units Affected: 8

Vehicle Make, Model, Model Year(s)

  • Chrysler 200 2015

Manufacturer: Chrysler Group LLC

Summary:

Chrysler Group LLC is recalling certain model year 2015 Chrysler 200 vehicles manufactured May 19, 2014 to June 21, 2014. The affected vehicles may have been built with a driver side door wiring harness of an insufficient wire gauge, resulting in excessive heat which may melt the wiring insulation.

Consequence:

Excessive heat and melting wiring insulation may result in an electrical short, increasing the risk of a fire.

Remedy:

Chrysler will notify owners, and dealers will replace the door wiring harness, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin in September 2014. Owners may contact Chrysler customer service at 800/853-1403. Chrysler’s number for this recall is P43.

Notes:

Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 888/327-4236 (TTY 800/424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov.

The second recall is concerning the seatbelt pretensioner. Although we seldom deal with these devices, we do replace door glasses that can have broken glass embed in the seat belt retractor where the pretensioner is located. The seatbelt pretensioner is activated with an explosive charge, at impact, that retracts the belt the instant a collision occurs. This retraction pulls the occupant back into the seat. If we allow glass pieces to remain embedded in the retractor or we use a tool to extract glass pieces from the retractor, we could damage the pretensioner or the belt itself.

This recall states that the pretensioner is already defective and needs replacement. Make sure your customer has answered the recall and had the pretensioners replaced.

Report Receipt Date: August 08, 2014

NHTSA Campaign Number: 14V488000

Component(s):

Potential Number of Units Affected: 48,114

Vehicle Make, Model, Model Year(s)

  • Buick Encore 2013
  • Cadillac ATS 2013

Manufacturer: General Motors LLC

Summary:

General Motors LLC (GM) is recalling certain model year 2013 Buick Encore vehicles manufactured August 23, 2012 to March 1, 2013 and model year 2013 Cadillac ATS vehicles manufactured April 23, 2012 to May 1, 2013. In the affected vehicles, the driver and passenger lap belt pretensioner cables may not lock in a retracted position, allowing the seat belts to extend when pulled upon.

Consequence:

If the seat belts do not remain locked in the retracted position when under load, the seat occupant may not be adequately restrained in a crash, increasing the risk of injury.

Remedy:

GM will notify owners, and dealers will replace both front the driver’s and the passenger’s lap belt pretensioners, free of charge. Parts are not currently available. GM will send an interim notification in early October 2014 and will send a second notification when remedy parts are available. Owners may contact Buick customer service at 800/521-7300, or Cadillac customer service at 800/458-8006. GM’s number for this recall is 14171.

Notes:

Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 888/327-4236 (TTY 800/424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov.

The last recall involves the center console latch. This certainly doesn’t sound like it would affect our performance or the performance of automotive glass components; however, we do enter the inside of the vehicle and in some cases make contact with the center console. If you are not aware of this simple recall, you could be blamed for something you did not cause.

Call attention to this issue with your customer before the installation begins.