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Volume 7    Issue 3            May/June  2005

     helpful hints

By Walt Gorman

Q: What is the most important step in a windshield repair, in your opinion?

A: This question is asked again and again, which shows how important it is.
For a first-time customer, the most important step is setting his or her expectations correctly.

A new customer expects the damaged area to be invisible. He will think that if he can see it the repair is no good. You must explain before you begin, not after! Explain that it is a repair, not a cosmetic treatment. Point out that not only is it saving him the cost of a new windshield but also the loss of the original factory seal, which can never be duplicated. You could also point out the dangers posed by a replacement windshield that has been installed improperly. I believe that if two technicians each had the same skills, personality and type of territory and one followed this advice and the other did not, within a year there would be a great difference in both their income and professional reputations.

The most important step in the actual repair procedure is preparing the windshield for the repair. This consists of removing contaminants from the breaks and adjusting the temperature of the glass. 

Solid contaminants, such as dirt, glass dust and chips or bits of rubber from the wipers, are usually fairly easy to remove with a probe or an air spray. The most difficult contaminant to remove is water or moisture. Heat, 99% alcohol (not common rubbing alcohol), vacuum or a combination of these will help dry it out. Both vacuum and alcohol will lower the boiling point of water. Too much heat will crack the windshield, so be careful. A small hairdryer will do.

Alcohol must be used very cautiously. First of all, it is very flammable and a spill on a vehicle’s finish could cost you the price of a paint job. If too much pressure is used, alcohol will soften the PVB innerlayer and can cause permanent halo effects.

Inject a small amount of alcohol (one-half c.c. maximum) and mix it with the water using, alternately, gentle pressure and vacuum, five to ten times. Then leave it on vacuum for about five minutes. Next, using a clean, dry injector, proceed with the repair. A small hair dryer can be used on the inside of the windshield at the same time.

The safest and fastest method is to use a system with a strong vacuum plus heat.
When making an appointment, tell customers not to wash the car before you get there. Often they will do this thinking that they are helping you out. 

We will discuss techniques for cooling or warming a windshield in another column.

Walt Gorman is the owner and founder of A-1Windshield Doctor in Seekonk, Mass.  He has 17 years experience in windshield repair and runs a training school for technicians.  Email your questions to

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