by Bob Beranek
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The introduction of the exposed-glass mounting has led to a paramount concern for installers not to damage the exposed pinchweld wall. If the pinchweld is damaged during installation, and priming exceeds the underside moulding weather mark, there is a real possibility that our customers will not like the look. This has changed the way we remove the glass and even introduced a new type of tool, the wire-out tools.

Many glass parts now are designed with an exposed edge. Some are exposed on all sides and some are only exposed on the top of the glass part. Some show the wall and the floor of the pinchweld, and others have an underside moulding that replicates the PAAS windshields of the past.

Let’s address the underside moulding installations specifically as it relates to bonding.

The underside mouldings are held in place with a strip of double-faced tape. It is applied to the inside surface edge of the glass. It is used, like all mouldings, as a decorative finishing touch. However, if the underside moulding is not taken into consideration during the installation process, the bonding of the glass to the body of the vehicle can be compromised.

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There are a couple of procedures that can improve the odds of safe bonding:

  • Bead application. Make sure, when applying your bead, that the tip of the “V” bead is perfectly perpendicular to the floor of the pinchweld. If it is pointing outwardly, it will make contact with the moulding and not the glass surface. This will not only create an unsafe bond but it will also cause a moulding appearance problem and a clean-up nightmare. If there is an acceptable variant in bead application, it would be that the bead be slightly tilting inward, but 90° to the floor is better.
  • Set the glass top first when possible and set the glass high. What I mean by that is to set the glass higher than the opening and then bring it down into position. In this way the “V” bead will catch the underside of the glass and not the moulding. As the glass is brought down, the bead is in position to safely bond the glass to the frame. The bead is pushed up against the inner edge of the moulding but on the glass surface and not on the moulding.
  • Apply the new urethane bead directly on the existing original bead. If corners are cut, or if the bead deviates from the original bead even slightly, the result is the bead contacting the moulding and not the glass surface. It also can result in adhesive oozing outward causing the moulding to pucker and appearance to suffer. You may need to slow the application of the bead to assure accurate placement. This is hugely important to the success and acceptability of the installation.

Exposed-edge glass does provide for an attractive appearance. It reduces drag for more fuel efficiency. However, it is a blind-set installation. We cannot see the bond being made. We have to depend on our bead configuration, size and position to assure proper bonding and leak-free performance. So, make sure you pay attention to the bead application and the setting procedure. We cannot afford to be sloppy in our procedures with these types of installations. There is no room for error.

Last week I was invited to tour the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) complex in Ruckersville, Va. All I can say is wow. What an impressive place.

What struck me first was the location of the facility. It is situated in the rolling hills of Virginia, away from urban sprawl. The closest neighbors are a herd of cows grazing in the farm fields. The roads to the facility were in the back country and had no centerline markings and were barely wide enough to handle two SUVs meeting one another. My travel mates were wondering if we took a wrong turn.

Once we entered the campus, the grounds were beautifully manicured and the facility was modern, massive and impressive. As we entered the vestibule, the “art” displayed was of wrecked vehicles. One, marking the 50th anniversary of the IIHS, was an almost unrecognizable 1959 Chevrolet, next to a more modern vehicle with substantially less damage, dramatically illustrating that today’s cars are decidedly safer than the older models.

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We were met by two highly experienced IIHS engineers who were the guides for the morning. The tour began with the history of IIHS. They voiced that it is their ultimate goal to help the driving public determine which vehicles are safest through testing and rating crash results. They explained their testing procedures and how they came about designing them. They showed us the coveted Top Safety Picks board on which a vehicle’s report card is displayed. What impressed me is the high number of good grades. We were told that since they have been keeping records, the safety of automobiles has greatly increased. It really is true that you can’t manage what you don’t track.

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The introduction of airbags, air curtains, crush zones, structural redesign and now the technology boom of Advanced Driver Assist Systems (ADAS) have made modern vehicles the safest they have ever been. However, we were reminded that safety can always be improved.

The benefits of pre-inspecting a vehicle before beginning an installation are self-evident. ANSI/AGSC/AGRSS™ Standard 003-2015 dictates that you cannot replace a windshield if the body is compromised by corrosion or deformity. In addition, by doing pre-inspections you can document any damage that was there before you touched the vehicle. This can ensure that your customer has a clear understanding about the automotive glass replacement process.

However, how many of you do a post-inspection? A post-inspection critiques the finished job. It includes an inventory of tools and parts, as well as a presentation of the vehicle to the owner and the instructions for the customer after the installation.

It is imperative to look the vehicle over before handing it back to the customer. Forget for a moment that you are the installer and put yourself in the position of the owner. Then look at that vehicle as if you owned it, because for a period of time after the installation, if anything goes wrong, it will come back on you. What should you do before presenting the vehicle to the customer?

  • Clean the vehicle inside and out. Clean and polish the part you replaced and maybe all the glass to show you appreciate the customer’s business. Vacuum the front seat area or at least empty the floor mats. Check and clean in the inconspicuous areas that you may have touched with your dirty- or urethane-covered hands and fingers. These areas can be behind the steering wheel, rearview mirror or exterior door latch.
  • Check for missing or broken parts. Did you lose that retainer? Did you break that clip? Replace them and make sure that everything fits tight and appears correct.
  • Do an inventory of your tools. Do you have all of your tools removed from the inside of the vehicle and from under the hood? Check.
  • Do the wipers/washers and all mechanical items removed or displaced during installation operate properly after the installation? Make sure the wipers don’t slap the cowl panel or the “A” pillar moulding. Make sure the rain sensor works and the mirror doesn’t wobble or vibrate.

Once everything is back to its original position and working properly, show off your workmanship and give the customer after-install instructions. Remember that the customer’s well-being is in your hands. Speak professionally, thoroughly and firmly. Do not equivocate. Explain in no uncertain terms that their health and safety depends on following your instructions. If they chose not to follow the instructions, then their lives and that of their family and friends could be at risk of serious injury or death.

In my opinion, tell them:

  • DO NOT drive the vehicle until the safe-drive-away time is reached. Tell the customer time of day and not the amount of time.
  • Tell the customer to keep the vehicle vented for air escape. It is best for the bonding and performance of the installation if the air in the vehicle has an escape route other than the freshly installed adhesive bead. The customer can stop the venting when the vehicle is safe to drive.
  • Tell the customer to remove any tape used in the installation as soon as the safe-drive-away time is reached. The tape can cause paint damaged if left on too long.
  • Explain to the customer that they should refrain from a professional carwash until the next day. It is not because the high pressure water could wash out the bead. That is a myth. However, the chemicals used in dissolving the tars and road grime from the vehicles painted surfaces could undermine the freshly applied adhesive bead. A carwash in the driveway with mild detergents is not a problem and can be allowed if need be.

I feel that the post-inspection is as important to the safety and well-being of my customers as the pre-inspection. Customers will come back to your company for future automotive glass services because their vehicle is presented in a way that tells them you care about their vehicle and about their safety.