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July/August  2004

Expert Advice
    pros who know

When Not to Repair
by Kerry Wanstrath

This topic has been the subject of much debate over the years. It is, perhaps, even more sensitive of an issue due to the controversy about the licensing issue in Connecticut. However that is a subject for an entirely different 

Those of us who respect and perform both repair and replacement have no doubt already established some criteria for determining when damage is too severe to perform a quality repair. It has been suggested that some repair and replacement shops replace more often then they should.

As an owner/partner in an auto glass business, we would just as soon repair as replace. In fact, we make more money repairing per time spent then replacing. However, the competition within the auto glass replacement market has driven down prices for the past two decades, straining profits. This can force businesses to cut corners or compromise ethics, suggesting a replacement when a repair was needed. To say this doesn’t happen would be naïve; the converse is just as true. A technician may repair when a replacement is in the best interest of the customer.

It is not my position or intention to place a limit on the size, length or amount of the damage. Industry organizations have established guidelines for recommended practice (see list). I can only speak as to what our company does. We evaluate the extent of the damage, taking into consideration the size, placement and age of damage, overall condition of the windshield and replacement cost. What I’m trying to say is we don’t have a hard-and-fast rule such as “no crack over 8 inches” or “ no more then three chips,” because there are variables to consider, such as the age of the crack and the amount of contaminants, or other factors. An example might be if a customer has a stone chip and we’ve determined the crack has been there for a long time and has visible contaminants. We might recommend it be replaced because we don’t think it can be repaired to our satisfaction. considering each situation based on its own circumstances can help you make the correct decision. 

This may be a harder decision for repair-only businesses. It is only natural to try to repair all that you successfully can as often as you can. Repair-only shops can be guilty of the same practice we accuse others of. How? Consider your practices on when to say no to repair. Do you say “no” or do you really believe you can repair anything? Only you can honestly evaluate your decisions. Your decisions will, however, have a far-reaching effect on the industry. Consider the effects it would have on the repair industry if every technician did every repair he could. We have all seen work that looked as if it wasn’t even repaired; if that became commonplace windshield repair would lose its appeal and credibility as a viable alternative to replacement. If you think you’re losing out on business as a result of that decision, consider partnering with a replacement company and working out a reciprocal agreement for cross referral.

Another option always available is learning the replacement skills needed to start adding that service. There are a number of training programs that offers hands on experience, which are also very affordable.
For now the decision on “when to repair and not to repair” is yours to make. 

Industry Guidelines
When in doubt, consult the following NWRA Recommended Practices checklist for opting out of a repair.
• Damage penetrating both layers of laminated glass 
• Damage with three or more extended long cracks 
• Damage or crack contaminated by chemicals which inhibit repair 
• Damage or crack on the inside layer of glass 
• Damage or crack that is dirty 
• Damage or crack in a heated wiper rest area 
• Damage or crack in a fully heated windshield 
• Damage with pit size larger than 3/8 of an inch (9.525 mm.) 
• Damage with pit depth to the laminate 
• Cracks that run through the acute area of the windshield 
• Edge cracks that intersect more than once with an edge 
• Stress cracks 


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