Volume 13, Issue 2 - March/April 2011


Top Ten Tips
Rock Chip Repairs

by Loren Buettner

To drill or not to drill: that is the question. Well, that’s one of the questions. What about moisture? And does windshield temperature really matter? There’s so much to learn and so many windshields to repair.

While the technique of rock chip repair can be taught rather quickly, mastery of the subject does not happen overnight. The art behind the science is learned only from experience. For instance, have you ever wanted to pull your hair out because a rock chip didn’t fill, even though you did everything right? Or have you ever worked on a long crack that seemed possessed by a catch-me-if-you-can windshield imp?

In my quest for more knowledge, I sought out the best minds in the industry and probed their ultraviolet-enlightened brains for answers. What I was able to pry from the lips of these seasoned veterans I am sure is only a fraction of their expertise. Following are the top ten tips I’ve heard.

1. Beware of moisture. Of all the comments I received, this one was repeated most often. “The chip needs to be clean of debris and moisture,” says Andy Mitchell of Andy’s Glass in Belgrade, Mont.

“When in doubt, dry it out,” says Bruce McDonald of Delta Kits Inc. in Eugene, Ore.

Mark Gleason of Visions Auto Glass in Fort Dodge, Iowa, takes it a step further. “I won’t do one if it’s wet. Let it dry overnight and do it tomorrow,” says Gleason. (See related story on methods for drying a chip in the September/October 2009 issue of AGRR™, page 37.)

2. Make sure the windshield is warm.
“It has to be above 40 degrees,” says Jason Fassler of Jack’s Glass in Dry Ridge, Ky. “If the glass isn’t warm enough, the resin won’t flow properly and the chip won’t fill.”

“Have you ever wanted
to pull your hair out because a rock chip didn’t fill, even though you did everything right?”

3. But be sure the windshield is not too warm. “Be careful of a hot windshield or those suckers will run to the edge,” warns Gerald Zwart of Clearview Windshields in Inwood, Iowa. “Use a thicker resin when the glass is hot and be careful of using too much pressure, otherwise you might damage the lamination and end up with a daisy.”

4. To drill or not to drill? Maybe. McDonald says the need to drill is rare. “In most cases, there is no need to drill,” he says.
To determine whether a chip should be drilled, you should look at the legs of the chip; if the legs of the chip have a black, green, or shiny look to them, that means there is air inside the chip, and therefore there is a path for the resin, according to information from Delta Kits. Drilling just adds to the damaged area and leaves a more noticeable scar.

However, Zwart disagrees. “Drill and tap everything,” he says. “Drilling and tapping is the secret to getting a good repair. The breaks will fill easier and every leg will fill completely.”

Confused about drilling? One expert told me that it all depends on how a person was trained. If a technician was trained to drill, then he/she will be partial to drilling; if he was trained not to drill, then he will drill only in those cases where it’s absolutely necessary—to anchor a long crack, to cap a pit (see No. 7), or if the resin doesn’t flow smoothly.

5. Fill those long cracks. Long-crack repair pioneer Rich Campfield of UltraBond in Durango, Colo., says the proper technique for repairing long cracks is to “drill in front of the crack and tap a bulls-eye.” Then fill in the bulls-eye with resin, and cure it. If this is followed, Campfield suggests the crack should not spread.

6. Cap a pit. If the impacted area is larger than the seal on your injector, cover the area with pit filler and cure it. Then drill through the cured pit filler and treat it like a normal chip.

7. Repair the chip as soon as possible. “The main thing is to get them sooner than later,” says Kent Solomon of Stockton Auto Glass in Stockton, Calif. This helps keep dirt and moisture out of the chip, and the chip can be repaired before it has a chance to spread.

8. Practice good customer service. “The number-one thing is dealing with customers,” says Brian Forcier of JN Phillips Auto Glass of Newburyport, Mass. “The customer’s expectations are sky-high.” Forcier trains his company’s technicians to ask customers what their expectations are, and to advise them upfront that the chip is not going to disappear completely.

9. Exercise patience. “Be patient,” says Robert Dent of Smail Auto Glass in Greensburg, Pa. Every rock chip is different and environmental conditions can vary dramatically. There are so many variables to rock chip repair that, “it can take up to five years to learn,” he adds. With time, your knowledge will grow.

10. Be professional. “Try and promote professionalism,” suggests Joe Frazee of Glass Technology in Durango, Colo. “Take pride in your appearance, clean and maintain your repair equipment, treat your customers with respect, get National Windshield Repair Association (NWRA)-certified, and back it all up by performing quality repairs. This will have a huge impact on the success of your business.”

There you have it—everything (almost) a person needs to know to have 100 percent success with rock chip and crack repairs. If you’re having problems, contact a repair kit supplier or visit one of their websites. Many of them have instructional videos and other information that is very helpful. If you’re still having problems, keep your eyes open for imps.

Loren Buettner is the director of operations for Andy’s Glass in Belgrade, Mont. Mr. Buettner’s opinions are solely his own and not necessarily those of this magazine.


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