Volume 14, Issue 1 - January/February 2012


Six Challenges Ahead in 2012
The Latest in Automotive Glass Designs
by Penny Stacey

As automotive designs evolve, so does the glass being used in vehicles—as well as the way manufacturers place it in vehicles. This leads to a number of challenges for today’s technicians. Following are six challenges predicted for 2012 by auto glass installation expert Bob Beranek of Automotive Glass Consultants in Sun Prairie, Wis.

1. Pinpointing what’s on the glass. “I always feel unprofessional asking the customer, ‘Do you have a rain sensor? Do you have a heated wiper part? Do you have this or that?’” says Beranek. “It’s always amazed me that our industry doesn’t have any better resource than asking the customer, because they don’t know. They know where the key goes and where the gas goes … Some vehicle packages will tell them if there’s special glass in there, but that’s not necessarily for sure either.”

To deal with this challenge, Beranek suggests technicians—or often the customer service representatives booking the job—ask the customer to look for certain indicators. “You can ask them to look at their monogram or bug and typically if it’s a special windshield it will say so,” says Beranek. “So if it’s acoustic, it will have some sort of inscription that will say it’s an acoustic windshield. Unfortunately there isn’t an easy way—there just isn’t.”

Knowledge is key, though—and will hopefully play a role in gaining the customer’s trust. “[You need to be able to] instruct your customer through the glass choice process, at which point you can sound for that customer as the true professional they’re trying to find, because that’s what they’re calling around for, whether you know or not. It’s not necessarily price,” he adds.

2. Hydrophobic coatings. Hydrophobic coatings were designed to cause raindrops to become round, so that they roll off the windshield automatically, according to Beranek, but it’s important to remember that they are not part of the windshield. “Hydrophobic … is a coating, plain and simple, put on the number-one surface,” says Beranek. “It’s not this magic thing that’s there forever. Depending on how long a guy uses his wipers, the hydrophobic coating is there, but if will eventually wear out or it has to be reapplied.”

So what does that mean to a technician? “If a customer comes in and says I’ve got a Toyota with a hydrophobic windshield, you will get a windshield without a hydrophobic coating,” he says. “You’re going to have to add it afterwards.”

3. Exposed edge glass. Though exposed edge glass has been common in Europe for some time, according to Beranek, its use in the United States is growing. “The Citroen C3 windshield that started in 2010 will come to America in short order,” says Beranek.

Beranek suggests that exposed edge glass has an “inherent problem” even before a windshield replacement is needed or occurs. “I don’t know if you’ve noticed it, but Jeep and Chrysler have both come out with service bulletins about air whistles on these right from the factory. A lot of them have them,” says Beranek. “The tighter it is, the more likely you’re going to have whistling.”

That’s not the only concern. “The cut-out is very important to keep from damaging the paint or the wall of the pinchweld,” says Beranek. “You also have to be concerned with how you apply the urethane. If it oozes out a little bit, the customer’s going to see it, and that’s a very hard thing to fix. You have to place your urethane bead right on the old one, and slightly slant it in so it doesn’t ooze out.”

Setting the glass in an exposed-edge set-up also can be challenging. “You can’t be off much, because some of these do not have an underside moulding to cover your mistakes, says Beranek. “Even if it does have an underside moulding, if you catch it wrong, then you’ve got a major problem on your hands. This takes extra time.”

4. Disappearance of pre-applied adhesive systems (PAAS.) “PAAS is becoming obsolete on the newer 2011 and 2012 vehicles,” says Beranek. “Audis and BMWs are going to underside mouldings, so you’re not really bonding PAAS to the body. They get the same effect, but they don’t have a PAAS. It might seem PAAS-like, but it’s not truly a PAAS. Remember, there’s a different bonding situation when you’re bonding PAAS vehicles than there is when you’re bonding to an underside moulding.”

5. The growing use of rain sensors. While rain sensors are popping up on more and more vehicles, technicians should be aware of the intricacies of these—and the difference between light and rain sensors. “Light sensors and rain sensors are not mutually inclusive,” Beranek says. “In other words, you can have a light sensor separate and a rain sensor separate. The 2000 Passat has only a light sensor—it looks like a rain sensor but you can test it and the windshield wipers are not going to work. So you spend 20 minutes trying to get the rain sensor to work and there is no rain sensor.”

Additionally, some vehicles are being equipped with other new types of sensors in today’s market. “Some have seen the Volvo C60 windshield—the big pad with about 20 different wires coming out of it,” says Beranek. “[This is] the CitySafe, which is an automatic braking system as well as a collision sensor for pedestrians and cars in front of the vehicle … Mercedes has the same thing. Lane notification is also big as well.”

He adds, “It doesn’t sound very hard as far as things you have to do to install it—it’s just, be aware that it’s there and make sure all the connections are there.”

6. Calibrated sidelites and backlites. There are some vehicles in today’s market that require dealer calibration of sidelites, such as the 2011 Volvo Eos. “These have to be plugged in to [Volvo’s] diagnostic equipment and be recalibrated every time a quarter or back glass is replaced,” says Beranek.

If this doesn’t occur, it can be detrimental to the passengers. “It has an anti-pinch reverse, and if you don’t have it re-calibrated at the dealer, it could hurt or crush [someone]—it won’t stop,” he adds.

“Hydrophobic coating is not a magic thing that’s there forever.”
—Bob Beranek, Automotive Glass Consultants

New Angles in Auto Glass Debut at L.A. Auto Show
The 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show in November featured several new car debuts, including several with innovative angles and placement of auto glass, displaying many of the challenges ahead.

The concept for the BMW i8 features a low-lying windshield and large rear window, along with two winged doors made of glass.

The 2013 Subaru BRZ coupe contains a twist on sidelites, with a design for a window within a window.
Other well-known vehicles featured small changes to their auto glass. The 2012 Honda CR-V was on display with a simple extension of the backlite.

Ford released the 2013 Escape during the event. The vehicle featuring a deeper-angled windshield that creates a sleeker appearance and a 10-percent more aerodynamic vehicle than last year’s Escape. The new Escape also will feature a panoramic sunroof, as will the 2012 Hyundai Azera.

From a completely different angle, the view from inside the vehicle also was big news at this year’s show. The BMW M5 was on display to show attendees how it projects important information onto the windshield directly in the driver’s field of vision, saving drivers from having to glance down to see the speedometer among other projected items.




© Copyright 2012 Key Communications Inc. All rights reserved.
No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.