Auto Glass University Blog

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Auto Glass Technology

Value-added features on many of today’s vehicles are so unnoticeable that they often don’t exist in the mind of the vehicle owner.  When auto glass technicians say “rain sensor”, or “wiper park heater”, or “third visor”, we know exactly what we are talking about because we work with these items every day. The customer may be completely unaware what they have included in their vehicle.  How do we help the consumer narrow down needed features so we can supply them with the proper glass parts?  As a technician, I tend to talk in literal terms while my wife, who trained CSRs for many years, has the ability to paint a picture for the customer that helps determine the actual needs.

First of all, let’s get to basics.  The right side of the vehicle to a technician feels like the left side of the vehicle to the customer who is on the phone with you.  The first rule of customer service in the auto glass industry is NEVER use the terms right or left when talking to the customer.  The preferred terms are “driver’s” side or “passenger’s” side.  Make sure the customer understands that right and left side is determined as if you are sitting in the vehicle and not looking at the vehicle from the outside.

The simple question to determine if a vehicle has an electrochromic mirror is, “does the mirror have wires going to the headliner?”  If it does, it is an electrochromic mirror.  If the windshield has two options, the presence or absence of wires should make you choice obvious.

How can I tell if my vehicle has a rain sensor?  Turn on your wipers to the intermittent setting with the window dry.  Some wipers will make an initial sweep but if the wipers do not wipe the dry windshield again after the initial swipe, it has a rain sensor.  You can also ask your customer to look at the windshield from the outside of the vehicle.  Is there a small window visible at or near the rear-view mirror mount that looks like a camera lens?  If so, it has a rain sensor.

How can I tell if there is a wiper park heater?  Are there defroster grids at the lower part of the windshield?  If so, it has a wiper park heater.  If the customer cannot see grids, ask them to look very closely at the lower paint band under the wiper arms from outside of the vehicle.  Do they see some faint gold or copper colored lines running along the bottom of the glass?  If so, there is a wiper park heater.

Usually, any large decorative cover at the base or side of the interior rear-view mirror mounting area indicates some added features.  They could be light sensors, condensation sensors, remote starters, lane departure systems or antenna systems.  Customers usually know if they have remote starters, heads-up-display or other popular features that they use often.  You may have to explain how these items show themselves.  For example, “a hologram on your windshield with your displayed speed”, is a good way to describe the heads-up-display feature on a windshield.

The easiest way to learn and understand the many visible and invisible features included in vehicles is to visit you local car dealers and/or ask your technicians for how to recognize the featured options.  Then construct a visual explanation of the how it works and how it shows itself in everyday driving.  After you know that, you can compose questions to guide your customers to the answers you need.

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Advanced Driver Assist Systems

What is it?

Advanced Driver Assist Systems (ADAS) is the new safety technology system being included into many of the new modern automobiles and trucks.  The term “Advanced” meaning that these are systems beyond the normal driver assist features like power steering and power brakes.  These systems can include but are not limited to,

·        Full-speed range adaptive cruise control 

·        Front and rear “virtual bumpers” 

·        Intelligent brake assist 

·        Brake pre-fill feature 

·        Forward collision alert 

·        Autonomous collision mitigation braking 

·        Lane departure warning

·        Lane Keeping 


·        Side blind zone alert 

·        Rear cross traffic alert 

·        Adaptive forward lighting and Intellibeam headlamp control 

·        Adaptive brake lights 

·        Rear vision camera with dynamic guidelines 

·        Hill hold/start assist 



What makes these features special to the auto glass technician is that they may utilize the windshield or other parts of the vehicle that are commonly serviced by normal auto glass installation.  What makes these features a problem, is that many of them must be re-calibrated by the dealer or a calibrating service after the auto glass part is installed.  The exception to this rule is the GM vehicles equipped with ADAS.  GM’s vehicles are self-calibrating.    


There is a current discussion going on in the industry whether to call these systems a safety device or not.  Most of the systems are optional equipment and can be turned off by the driver when they become a nuisance.  This is an argument that has some merit.  If the system can be turned off, how can anyone be held accountable if an accident occurs when the system is disabled. 

On the other side are those that claim that a device that aids in accident reduction is a safety device no matter what others say.  Their argument is simply that a safety device is defined by the jury that hears the case and most of us know what their decision will be.  If the device isn’t made to operate properly after the installation, it is the fault of the glass company that did the installation.

How to deal with it.

The Auto Glass Safety Council Standards Committee is tackling this issue and is doing their due diligence in finding the facts and determining a course of action.  In the meantime, the recommendation is to protect your customers from possible injury and yourself from possible liability.  Once the installation is complete, make an appointment with a local dealer for your customer so you and they will know that this re-calibration is necessary.  Beware that some dealers may require OEM glass parts be used before they will agree to re-calibrate.  They will require an additional charge for the re-calibration service so make your customers aware of the added cost. 

Keep your eyes and ears open for new information on this subject.   The importance of properly resetting these systems are imperative to everyone’s well-being.

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Plunge Relief Cut



What is a “plunge relief cut”?   I see this procedure used all the time and every time I see it, it makes me cringe.  If completed incorrectly or used more often than not, it is a sure cause of corrosion and bonding failure.  The plunge cut is when the utility knife is plunged into the urethane bead at the glass edge and run along the edge to make the cutout procedure seem easier.  I use the term “seem” because it is an incorrect assumption.  If the cut out blade is sharpened and used correctly the need for plunge cutting is rarely necessary. 


The problem is not that the metal is scratched – we scratch the metal all the time – the problem is where the metal is scratched.  If a scratch occurs in an area that can be seen and addressed, it can be corrected with the proper procedures and preparations.  But, if it is scratched below and under the trimmed existing bead, the chance of properly treating that scratch is very slim and undermining corrosion is the result.  If the recommended amount of existing bead is left after trimming (1-2mm) and a scratch was caused under that bead, the only way to prime or cover that scratch is to expose it enough to allow the primer or prep to flow to the scratch.  This will mean that you will either have to trim the urethane to bare metal – which will cause further corrosion treatment – or you would have to use tweezers to spread the existing urethane bead to allow for primer flow.  If you fail to do this, not only will the installation probably leak but the total bond will be corrupted and eventually fail without expensive correction.


I’m sure that some of the readers out there are saying,” Beranek, don’t you know anything?  There are times that I have to plunge cut.”  Of course you do.  I do know that, in some instances, it is a necessary evil to plunge cut.  For example, when poor prior placement of an existing bead oozes and flattens out or when the need to trim off encapsulated or bonded moldings is required.  Of course it is necessary to plunge the knife blade in those instances, but the key is not to plunge it too deep that the metal will be scored and access to the scratch is impossible.


The best way to deal with plunge cutting is to not do it.  The best technicians are those that spend the time and/ or develop techniques that eliminate scratches to the metal.  It takes time, practice and possibly new tools to accomplish this goal but it can be done.  Please, don’t develop bad habits that “seem” to make your job easier but ultimately damages the vehicle and endangers your customers.

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