by Bob Beranek
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Last November I posted an article on the contents of a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). I explained the digits used to identify an automobile and detailed what information the VIN did (and did not) contain. Recently however, I have heard people in the industry tell me that they have a VIN decoder that picks out the right windshield for a vehicle. In my experience, the decoders may not complete the assignment.

It’s true, knowing the complete VIN can shorten the list of windshield options you have to choose from, but it doesn’t necessarily pick the part for you. Let’s take the Jeep Cherokee as it has 51 windshield options. Last week I conducted a training course where we had to replace a 2015 Jeep Cherokee windshield. When we typed the VIN into the decoder on my software, it gave us over 20 windshields to choose from. 

On the same day, we had a Ford F150 that gave us the part we needed via a VIN decoder, so they aren’t useless. However having a decoder will not give you all of the information you need for all vehicles. You may have to contact the dealer.

How can a dealer know what glass is in the vehicle by the VIN and we can’t? It’s because they have access to what is called the “build sheet.” The build sheet is the actual information of what was included in the vehicle at the time of assembly. The VIN does not include the glass part number, but the build sheet does. With this proprietary information the dealer can tell you exactly what glass was put into the vehicle. But will they?

Some software companies have told me that they draw their information from build sheets, which is great. However most still admit they don’t have all of the information required for all makes and models. Some dealerships are happy to help, but it’s to the carmakers/dealers advantage to keep some things to themselves rather than releasing all of the information they have available. If all specifications and information were made public, the carmakers’ dealer base would be undercut and beaten at every turn.

The reality is professional questioning of the customer is still important in having the right windshield for the job. A significant skill of any customer service representative (CSR), technician or owner is the ability to lead the customer through a series of questions that will pare down the information necessary to pick the correct part. If there’s something related to the glass that can’t be seen, heard or experienced by the customer, then the professional CSR can ask about other options that will lead them to features that would differentiate a glass part. For example, if a vehicle has a heated mirror, then it is likely that it would have a wiper park heater as well. 

I have an idea. What if we help our fellow auto glass professionals and send in hints on questions to ask the customer that narrows down the windshield options? Make sure the hints are correct before sharing them. Send them as a comment to this post, I know this would be greatly appreciated and a big help to everyone.  I’ll even bet that the more you give, the more you will receive in new information.       

The word “Refracturing,” would be defined as re-breaking of a previously repaired chip. However, I use the term in a different way. I define it as a process in which a chip is made larger to enable you to fix it faster and better. To be more specific, we created a bullseye break at the pit to create a basin for the resin to flow easier to the other legs of the break.

Refracturing is done for a few reasons. For one, it makes a repair faster by evenly distributing the resin and because it doesn’t have to be pressured through the tight recesses of a crack or star type break. The other reason is quality of repair; a half-moon break will repair easier if you cause the half-moon to become a bullseye. To do that, you cause the half-moon to finish breaking and become a bullseye break.

             

Before refracturing                After refracturing

How do you complete a refracturing? First you need practice before doing it on a customer’s vehicle; take an old windshield and practice on surface divets on the glass. It takes a darning needle, larger sewing needle or sharp pick and a weighted tool. I use the handle of a screwdriver or other hand tools.  Next, place the pointed tip of the pick or needle into the pit of the break and tap the dull end with the weighted tool until a small bullseye is created under the pit. It may take several tries to get the hang of it but practice makes perfect. Now, fill in the break normally; the bullseye portion you created will disappear and the far reaches of the break will repair faster.

 

 

 

 

 

If you wish to make a bullseye break from a half moon, the first thing you must do is check the existing break and make sure that the ends of the moon are pointing inward and not outward. If they are pointing outward, the break will run against the pit instead of finishing the bullseye when the refracturing process is applied. However, if the tips of the half moon are pointing inward, the break will finish the circular bullseye due to the natural circular grain of the glass making a chip easy to repair.

Refracturing is a technique that works, give it a try, you won’t be sorry.

 

I’m sure that many of you have noticed that there has been a higher number of noise complaints recently. Have you ever wondered why? The answer is exposed edge glass mounting. Since the popularity of exposed edge glass mounting came into being with the Saint Gobain’s Pre-Applied Adhesive System (PAAS), many other vehicle manufacturers have noticed the benefits of its design.

  • There are fewer parts to design and manufacturer;
  • Less labor costs to install the finishing moldings;
  • Without an over-glass molding there is less drag and better fuel economy; and
  • More aesthetically appealing.

There are also some pros and cons for the auto glass technician as well.

Pros

  • No moldings to take off so installation times are reduced;
  • No clips to be broken and replaced so costs are reduced.

Cons

  • Removal damage easily visible;
  • Bead application must be precise or cleanup is a problem;
  • Noise complaints increase.

Today, I want to address the noise complaint issue. Have you ever had a customer complain, “That ever since the glass was replaced, there is a noise they’ve never heard before?” I think we all have. The fact is that the noise is not new, it is just different.

All vehicles have noises manufactured in them the day we drive it off the lot. If the noise is such that we cannot tolerate them, we don’t buy the vehicle. However, if the sounds are minor, or don’t irritate us particularly, we will buy the vehicle and live with the noise. Eventually, we don’t hear it anymore because we get used to it, and, in our minds, it ceases to exist.

Then comes Otto’s Glass to replace the windshield and the gap between the exposed edge of the glass, and the wall of the pinchweld is slightly different than before. If it is a smaller gap, there is a higher pitched “whistle.” If it is a larger gap, there is an “air rush” sound. Either way, the sound is different not new. There is no such thing as zero sound.

Air has to go somewhere when it comes in contact with the vehicle. If it is forced between the glass and the body gap, the rush of air will create a noise. How that noise is heard depends on where it enters the gap, travels through the length of the gap and how it escapes. The only way to stop the noise complaint is to disrupt the air flow thus stopping the air from creating a rush or whistle.

Here are some actions you can take to reduce the noise complaints:

  • Add a moulding – Yes, it will change the look, but does the customer want a quiet ride or stylish looks? Sometimes you can’t have both. If you are a good salesman, you can sell them on a “J” moulding which will most definitely remove the noise issue, but it will also be the most noticeable to the customer. Or, you could suggest or install an underside moulding which will be far less noticeable but is not as fail safe as the addition of a “J” moulding. The underside moulding will divert the air causing the noise.
  • Measure and replicate the size of the gap – Use a shim or measuring device to note the size of the gap between the glass edge and the wall of the pinchweld. Then exactly replicate the gap upon setting the glass into the opening. Adjust where needed.
  • Disrupt the air flow by adding a strategic ball of adhesive – If the vehicle has “A” pillar moldings but has an exposed edge top, you should place a small ball of butyl tape or dollop of urethane under the side moldings and between the glass edge and the pinchweld wall. This will disrupt the flow of the air and eliminate air rush or an upper corner wind whistle.
  • Make sure the glass surface is slightly below the flush-point of the roof line – It is a little known fact that the glass should be slightly inset into the opening for exposed edge glass. This directive came from BMW many years ago for their vehicles. BMW even had a tool that looked like the shape of the state of Nebraska to measure the indentation. That tool should not be used to measure all vehicles because all vehicles have different roof configurations, but the glass should be slightly indented into the opening and not be flush to the roof line.

I hope these tips and ideas will help with your reduction of noise complaints. Just remember that the noise they hear is not new, just different.