by Bob Beranek
  • facebook

I get weekly emails from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that list the most recalls issued. There was one that caught my eye; it was on two General Motors vehicles, the 2016-2019 GMC Savana and Chevrolet Express vans.

Its recall identification number is 19V387. The title is what initially drew me in Incorrect Rear-Quarter Window Glass/FMVSS 226.  Tempered glass increases the risk of injury in the event of a side impact or rollover.

What was wrong with the quarter glass installed in the original assembly? Tempered glass has been used for quarter glasses for decades. According to the summary of the recall notice:

“One or both of the rear-quarter windows may be tempered glass instead of laminated glass. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 226, ‘ejection mitigation.”

What is FMVSS 226, “ejection mitigation?”

FMVSS 226, officially “49 CFR § 571.226 – Standard No. 226; Ejection Mitigation.”, can be obtained here.

If you have an engineering degree or speak “legalese” fluently you’ll probably get through it and completely understand it. I don’t have either ability, so I contacted some experts for an explanation. Here’s what I’ve learned.

FMVSS 226 is a relatively new standard, as it was introduced in 2011. There’s been a phase-in period for vehicle manufacturers until September 1, 2018, which is why we haven’t heard much about this until now. It says:

“This standard establishes requirements for ejection mitigation systems to reduce the likelihood of complete and partial ejections of vehicle occupants through side windows during rollovers or side impact events.” 

The 19-page standard goes on to explain the phase-in requirements, performance and testing parameters. My experts explained it is a new stand-alone standard that’s a directive from the government to vehicle manufacturers, mandating that laminated glass take a greater role in vehicle manufacturing for safety reasons.

The standard makes an exception for cargo vans and other specialty vehicles under 10,000 lbs. However, if you have a cargo van with a factory installed laminated quarter glass, I don’t recommend replacing that part with a tempered piece. We cannot interpret the language of the standard for our or our customers’ benefit.

The immediate concern, is that some of your dealer customers may want you to replace the tempered quarter glasses with laminated on the left rear-quarter position for long wheelbase vehicles and both left and right rear-quarter positions for short wheelbase configurations. Also, you should be proactive and inform your customers of this recall.

The long-term impact is not known at this time. There may come a time when all glass will be laminated in a motor vehicle. If that happens, new tools and procedures will have to be invented to deal with the change. I will keep you informed of new developments with this standard as new requirements are announced, and I will add the facts to my training courses to assure up-to-date knowledge.

I received my usual monthly notice of recalls yesterday and I saw an interesting item. Several GM models, as well as a few other models GM has interested in, have some problems with the window switches. Involved models include:

  • BUICK RAINIER 2006-2007;
  • CHEVROLET TRAILBLAZER 2006-2007;
  • CHEVROLET TRAILBLAZER EXT 2006;
  • GMC ENVOY 2006-2007;
  • GMC ENVOY XL 2006;
  • ISUZU ASCENDER 2006-2007; and
  • SAAB 9-7X 2005-2007.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) summary of the problem states, “Fluid may enter the driver’s door module, causing corrosion that could result in a short in the circuit board. A short may cause the power door lock and power window switches to function intermittently or become inoperative. The short may also cause overheating, which could melt components of the door module, producing odor, smoke, or a fire.”

The interesting part is all the “mays” and “coulds” used in the summary. If this is a serious issue, and I think fire is a serious issue, the tone of the recall is unusually tempered in its wording. As far as I’m concerned, a recall is a recall and if danger is present for the occupants it must be fixed not “may” be fixed. NHTSA goes on to say, “…A fire could occur even while the vehicle is not in use. As a precaution, owners are advised to park outside until the remedy has been made.” Ya think? I think it is severe enough to make a serious effort to be unequivocal.

How does this concern us as auto glass technicians? We, as responsible professionals, must make sure that the owners of these vehicles are made aware of the issue and urge them to have their dealer complete the fix.  If we fail to do that, we could be held responsible for our indifference and negligence. Especially if we just finished working on their car. Here is the link to the notice so you can print it and give it out to your customers,

http://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/owners/SearchResults.action?searchType=ID&targetCategory=R&searchCriteria.nhtsa_ids=13V248&refurl=email.

I would suggest that it be placed with and/or attached to the work order that goes out with the technician so he is reminded to discuss it with his customer, whether it is replacing the door glass or not. Also put a couple of copies in each service vehicle for distribution as well.

Let’s be the auto glass professional our customers hired.  Professional means expert, qualified and skilled; how about proving that is a fact and not simply a term we use to market ourselves.