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.

In May of 2014, I posted an article addressing the dilemma of whether the use of laminated sidelites were a safety device or a performance device. Recently this same issue came up again. Evidently, some customers have asked an automotive glass shop to install a tempered door glass in place of the broken laminated part due to the lower cost. Should we be installing tempered in place of laminated? Is this a safety concern?

Some may argue that customer service should take precedence because there is no definitive statement of a safety-related purpose. To my knowledge, glass manufacturers’ websites sell the acoustical properties and security issues as the benefits of laminated glass and say nothing of the safety benefits.

Some believe that the purpose is obvious and that it acts as a backstop for the air curtain, much like the windshield does for the passenger side airbag, and it prevents ejection in the event of a rollover accident. So some believe it should be replaced with laminated if that is how is was originally equipped. After all, didn’t the manufacturer put it there for a reason?

Neither of these beliefs are wrong. The technology being added to the modern vehicle is exciting to watch but scary to contemplate. As a business owner myself, I constantly have to make decisions that must be calculated and thought out for the well-being of my customer and for the benefit of my business and employees. Is this a safety device or is it not? If I please this customer, do I put my business under a liability? How do I reduce liability? These questions, and more like them, can make for restless nights. I know because it happens to me.

I have been involved with many litigations over my career and my belief is simple. Safety may not be mentioned in an advertisement, website or dealership, but if a consumer believes that a feature is beneficial to their personal safety, it is a safety device no matter how it is labeled. It just hasn’t been tested in court as yet. Obviously, none of us what to be the test case.

These are difficult decisions. I nor anyone else can tell a business owner how to run their company. We can help them find accounting advice; we can recommend a successful business plan; and we can advise on marketing strategies. But the way an owner runs his/her business is entirely up to them and no one else. This is one of those issues that the owner must sit down and think out how much liability am I willing to take on and what are the consequences of my decision. Will the increase in revenue or customer service reputation override any possibility of fault?  Or, will those few installations come back to haunt you later?

In any case, think it through and follow your instincts.