by Bob Beranek
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Recently we’ve seen an increase of original equipment (OE) glass purchases from dealerships. Why, because Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) are being incorporated into new vehicles more often than not. This means auto glass companies that don’t recalibrate ADAS systems must depend on dealerships. By adding dealerships as a partner to complete auto glass services for their mutual customer, may mean the dealership will demand OE glass be obtained for the replacement to facilitate recalibrations.

What does that have to do with the title of this post? When OE glass is purchased from a dealer, it can sometimes come to auto glass shops pre-primed, especially if the vehicle is a new model or has just been manufactured for the new model year. This can pose a problem if the urethane adhesive you choose doesn’t allow use with unknown primers.

We all know technicians should never use a glass part with an unknown primer applied. If glass is delivered to your shop and the glass has a primer applied, it should be returned for a new part. The technician wouldn’t have a way of knowing how the glass was cleaned, primed, or prepared and what chemicals were used. You also wouldn’t know if the glass was cleaned properly and if the primer used was compatible with the primers the technician will use? None of these things are known and no one should assume the previous technician knew what they were doing when they prepped the part.

You may think, I’ll just clean it off, but will you, and can you? It may look clean and contaminant free when you’re done cleaning it, but is it really? If you use abrasives to remove any foreign materials some of the frit paint may be removed. The frit is a rough surface with peaks and valleys that are coated with chemicals that can’t be removed fully without removing a substantial amount of the frit paint. When frit paint is removed the frit is not as protective of the urethane as it was before. The adhesive will be more susceptible to ultraviolet light breakdown and reduction in mechanical bond.

So, what should we do to prep the pre-primed OE part? I asked that question to three of the top auto glass adhesive manufacturers’ in the industry. Unfortunately, each had a different answer, but none said you can’t prep an OE part properly with the right procedures. One of the top adhesive producers warned not all OE prepped glass was equal in terms of proper priming. OE’s make mistakes like everyone else. I’ve previously written about problems with priming that must be addressed if witnessed.

I urge all technicians and owners that read this article, to check with their adhesive representatives or check their adhesive instructions to verify the procedures in dealing with pre-primed OE parts. If your urethane of choice has neither a rep nor written instructions covering this issue, the only way you can be assured the primer on the OE part is compatible with the urethane used is to purchase the OE urethane kit with the OE glass part. Then follow the written instructions given to you by the OE adhesive company.

I received some interesting news recently about 2017-18 Honda CRVs equipped with Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) and a rain sensor (FW04540-41). Although I can’t confirm at this time if this glitch applies to all Honda models, if the Honda model you are working on has both ADAS and a rain sensor, then I suspect the following procedure will be necessary when replacing glass in those models as well.

Honda CRV 2017

Honda CRV 2018

Dealers will tell you that all Honda model vehicles will require OE glass be installed before they can be recalibrated. With that being said, those of you who recalibrate with your own purchased tool may find that recalibration is possible with aftermarket glass, if the glass used is of good to excellent quality. The issue is the rain sensor.

If you install an aftermarket windshield, the rain sensor still may not work, even though the recalibration was a success, and even though it worked during the pre-inspection. The reason for the malfunction is what is called the Body Control Module (BCM).

Honda has an instruction note for installation that reads:

  • Make sure that there are no air bubbles between the windshield glass and the silicone sheet during installation;
  • If the automatic lighting/rain sensor connection is connected after the 12-volt battery terminal is connected, the automatic lighting/rain sensor is not confirmed by the body control module;
  • If the body control module does not confirm the automatic lighting/rain sensor, the automatic wiper system does not work.

This means that the BCM must be reset to recognize the lighting/rain sensor. How do we reset the BCM? In this case, the only way to reset the BCM is to disconnect the battery.

I know, disconnecting the battery should be discouraged whenever possible. Disconnecting the battery means that memory systems built into the vehicle can, and in most cases, will be lost. You will have to explain to the vehicle owner the possibility of lost memory to favorite features. However, here’s what needs to be done.

  • Disconnect the negative battery terminal;
  • Leave it disconnected for 15 minutes;
  • Reconnect the battery terminal and start the vehicle;
  • The vehicle will go through a reset protocol and reset the lighting/rain sensor; and
  • The radio can be reset by depressing the power “on” button 3-5 seconds.

After talking to several Honda dealers and dealer glass installers, I have heard that if an OE glass is installed, this BCM reset process rarely needs to be completed. So, you have a choice, stand around for 15 minutes waiting for the BCM to reset, or simply buy OE glass and be on your way. I will let you know when I learn more.

Complaints about glass quality are increasing right now, but I am a “pie in the sky” optimist. I believe that the Aftermarket Replacement Glass (ARG) will get better in the future unlike the current trend. The ARG market must up its game or go out of business and here’s why.

We all know that quality standards in the ARG market have been declining. It started with protruding PVB at the windshield edges so drastic that moldings couldn’t be attached without trimming it back. It progressed further with moldings applied so sloppily that we had to remove them and reapply our own, costing us more than we expected. Lately, we have mirror pads falling off, glass out of bend and parts failing to pass recalibration.  We lose money every time we have to then replace the cheaper glass we originally installed with an OE part anyway.

Like any business, ARG manufacturers may feel the need to reduce costs to remain competitive. Some of the ways a glass company can reduce cost is to reduce the quality control inspections, use less expensive add-ons like mirror and molding adhesives, and/or reduce labor hours where possible.  Waste is reduced by letting less-than first quality parts leave the plant and go on sale, rather than washing them out as defective. Fewer “defective” parts means less waste and more profits.

However, with the advent of Advanced Driver Assist Systems, the quality of ARG parts must be upgraded or their very existence may be in danger. The difference between the original equipment “dealer” parts (OE) and the ARG glass parts is the way the manufacturers get their specifications for production. The OE receives the specifications directly from the carmakers’ designers and engineers. The ARG gets their specifications through “reverse engineering.” The carmakers determine the tolerances they will accept with OE parts. ARG manufacturers determine their own tolerances, usually based on what the market will bear.

The OE has very tight tolerances because of the technology built into today’s vehicles. Some are performance driven while others are safety driven. Both performance and safety driven technologies are important to the carmakers because they want to make their vehicles attractive to buyers and their systems to work properly. OE glass parts specifications are important to the performance of the new technology.

ARG manufacturers cater to the vehicle owners. Some of those vehicle owners put the price of glass repair at a higher priority than the performance of the technology. In some cases, that is acceptable because a performance feature is the choice of the owner and, if the owner decides to bypass performance for price, that is his/her prerogative. An example of this might be the acoustical glass. ARG companies may not offer acoustical glass as an option because it is a patented process, and they choose not to purchase that technology from the patent owner.

However, safety technology cannot be bypassed for price. It must be made operable or the United States Highway Safety Act of 1966 is broken. If a safety technology is not returned to the glass part, then they will lose sales and possibly their whole business.

What does all this mean? I think it means that unless an ARG manufacturer wants to lose business to the dealers and OE suppliers, it will have to improve its quality, sell out or go out of business. I’m optimistic that the ARG industry will not disappear. They will make the adjustments to survive and will choose to improve their quality. Call me an optimist.