by Bob Beranek
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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.

There was a thread on the glassBYTEs.com™/AGRR™ magazine forum in which someone asked how to prepare the pinchweld for a windshield installation on the new aluminum Ford F-150. I found the written instructions from Ford for that vehicle and posted them.

Ford happens to use Dow adhesives, and so the instructions I posted were written by a Dow representative. Of course, dealer instructions must make the assumption that the tech is prepping a pinchweld that was damaged upon the removal of the glass.

However, one reader commented that it should be the goal of every tech to not damage the vehicle at all. I fully agree, and feel this is an outlook that does not get its proper due. Are some of us too careless? You should be actively doing your best not to harm the vehicle.

I know that tools break, blades wander and technique must be mastered, but “no damage” should always be our goal.

Mistakes happen, but I sometimes see technicians fail to take into consideration the tools and precautions needed to remove the glass with minimal body damage. They feel that the primer is there for that reason, and as long as the installation is away from the customer’s immediate sightline—no harm, no foul. I disagree.

Primer is necessary to protect the pinchweld in the short term, but once the bare metal is exposed to oxygen, corrosion has begun. The best way to eliminate corrosion for the short and the long term is not to damage the vehicle at all. It may take a little longer, but it is time well spent.

The potential for problems occur during the removal and preparation steps. In the removal step, the technician must make a decision that is best for the customer’s vehicle, and not for his installation speed and comfort. Yes, the cold knife and power tool would get that glass out faster but they also raise the possibility of more damage to the vehicle if you don’t take measures to protect it. Depending on the vehicle, it may be better to use finesse rather than violence to remove the glass.

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In the preparation step, damage usually occurs during the removal of the old adhesive. If the glass is original equipment, the urethane bead is usually quite easy to strip with little or no damage. The problem comes with the second and third installations. The technician before you may believe in “the more the better” philosophy of automotive glass replacement. There could be urethane everywhere that needs to be removed. Yet, we must at least try to remove the existing urethane with the least possible damage. Buy the right tools, take your time and practice the techniques that make you the best in your area.

In full disclosure, I am not a saint. I do sometimes pick power over finesse, and I’ve been tempted to let the primer “cover up” my mistakes. But I fight that inclination, and so should you. Instead, brag that you didn’t use one drop of pinchweld primer today. If you have no scratches, you will need no primer. That would be an accomplishment that you can celebrate.

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I received information recently from an AllData representative that caused me to do a double take. Did you know that Nissan is requiring that the inside rearview mirror be replaced when the windshield is replaced on four of their most popular models?

The Position Statements released by Nissan share information regarding collision repairs, including glass, and Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) on the vehicles. One of the statements makes the directive very clear:

“As of the 2016 Nissan model line-up, the LEAF, JUKE, Sentra, and Quest all have non-reusable rear view mirrors. Any windshield replacement on these vehicles also requires the rear view mirror to be replaced.”

Nissan does not divulge the reason for the mirror directive nor is it explained in the service manual. It only says that the mirrors are not reusable. Nissan makes the claim that the windshield is a structural component to the vehicle that it contributes to the advanced vehicle technology and that OEM glass should be used for safety reasons. However, the statement stops short of saying that OE glass is the only kind that can be used for windshield replacement. In fact, they give directives if an aftermarket must be used. The direct quote is:

“Nissan North America DOES NOT support the use of aftermarket or recycled glass in a repair situation. If an aftermarket windshield is unavoidable in a repair situation, please be sure it meets the same specifications and similar quality to the OEM windshield being replaced.”

I am looking into the reason why the mirror must be replaced. I suspect that the mirrors have something to do with the camera or its mounting so replacement is required to ensure calibration success. However, that is a guess and I will keep you informed of what I find out.

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Another clear directive from Nissan is the calibration of their Around View® Monitor:

“Nissan North America has taken the position that any time a camera, or camera mounting part (front grille, door mirror, or others) is removed, installed, or replaced, it is mandatory for the qualified repair professional to perform a calibration of this system.”

The Around View® is the automaker’s collision avoidance camera system. It can be mounted in several different areas on the vehicle so the front, side and rear views can be monitored for collision avoidance. This position statement is also very clear and makes the directive “mandatory.”

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These are two interesting and important developments for Nissan windshield replacements. Though we do not currently know the reasons for these directives, they must be considered when replacing the windshields on these models. The Around View® Monitor is most definitely a safety issue and must be followed for your own protection. The rearview mirror directive does not directly mention safety related issues, though the mirrors are a safety device. These published Position Statements are unequivocal, however, and are ignored at your own peril.

I will keep you informed as I am able to collect and confirm more information.