Tailgate Glass Transplant

 

 

 

Some of the unsung work we, as windscreen fitters do, is in bodyshops (or accident repair centres). Working as the subcontractor for a crash repair garage can be bread and butter for some firms or the staple income for a lot of windscreen companies. Here is an example of a quick turnaround job: the tailgate transplant.

The new tailgate is painted as the old, crashed one is removed from the car and stored. On the day of the swap, the new painted tailgate will be hung on the car, and work to transfer all the parts begins. The bodyshop fitter will remove all the parts leaving the glass to the specialist:

Tailgate Transplant

The donor tailgate

There are various ways to remove the glass, some methods are better than others. This glass was removed with a square-profiled wire.

Heated rear windscreen removed

Work then begins or preparing the newly painted tailgate. A minimum period of 24 hours must pass after bake before a bonded application can be introduced to fresh paint. With this in mind, a few checks are still necessary to satisfy the installer that the substrate is suitable for bonding to. The new tailgate preparation begins:

New tailgate

There are many polyurethane adhesives on the market. For this job, Sika’s Sikatack Drive was used. Despite its excellent primer-less application, the manufacturer recommends use of a primer – or adhesion promoter – on freshly painted surfaces. But before that, the surface is ‘scratched’ over the bond line to provide a ‘key’ for the primer to adhere to:

Surface preparation: key

Following Sika’s guidelines, the surface is ‘activated’ as preparation for the primer, but also to remove any particles of dust or contaminants. After observing the requisite flash off time, the (black) primer can now be applied:

Adhesion promoter by Sika.

Whilst the primer dries, the glass can be prepared. This is a delicate process of cutting back the old cured adhesive and cleaning the surface. Care is taken not to catch or damage ant hardware on the glass, especially the heater elements. Again, following manufacturer instructions, the  glass  is  prepared  before  fresh  (polyurethane)  adhesive ( “PUR” )is applied. The glass is marked indicating the date, the installer’s identification as well as the corresponding batch numbers for the PUR for traceability.

Heated rear windscreen

Finally, the ‘transplanted’ heated rear windscreen:

Peugeot 3008 glass transplant

Comments and questions welcome.

Dealer Part Windscreens

 

 

 

Original Equipment Manufacturer Versus Original Equipment Equivalent Windscreens (and Glass).

“Is the windscreen Original Equipment?”

This has emerged as a common question for many motorists and a growing number of consumers. The availability of information via the internet has raised awareness among the more discerning motorists about the distinction between aftermarket and genuine glass. Windscreens have become much more complex in the role they play in a vehicle. It is much more than what the name suggests, and with the advent of driver assistance technology, the relevance of windscreen authenticity and product quality has never been so pertinent.

Whether the vehicle is new or leased, the consumer is usually told by the contracted repairer that the replacement windscreen they intend to fit will be an original equipment equivalent ( “OEE” ). However, when the fitter (or technician) shows up to replace the broken windscreen, the glass may not bear the (vehicle) manufacturer’s logo. For many years, this subject has been trivialised with what’s the big deal attitudes however, today the big question being asked – and rightly so – is, what is the difference?

OEM – Original Equipment Manufacturer. Most commonly referred to as OE parts, are produced under license from the car manufacturer, and installed in the factory when the vehicle is assembled. These parts are also sold via the vehicle’s main dealer networks as replacement parts.

Genuine Audi Windscreen

Genuine Audi Windscreen

OEE – Original Equipment Equivalent. These are parts produced for installation in the ‘aftermarket’ by third party companies. This option can also be referred to as aftermarket glass ( “AM” ). They can be produced by the same manufacturer as the OE version (but not always in the same factory using the exact same process).

What is an OEM Windscreen?

When a new vehicle is designed the vehicle maker can use an existing windscreen part from an older model, or they can create a completely new windscreen with its own unique part number. If the decision is made to create a new part, the vehicle manufacturer contracts and commissions a glass manufacturer to produce the part. These ‘authentic’ parts are installed when the vehicle is assembled. A percentage of that production run will be allocated to the vehicle manufacturer’s (usually franchised) main agents to be made available as replacement parts. OEM parts are – usually by far – the best available products.

 

Genuine Jaguar Windscreen

Genuine Jaguar Windscreen

Is an OE Windscreen the Same as an AM Windscreen?

After a new vehicle has reached dealerships and is sold to consumers, third party glass manufacturers will, sooner or later depending on any commercial or copyright restrictions, acquire and OE windscreen and reverse engineer a mould to manufacture their own aftermarket glass parts. OEE – or AM – parts are often slightly different in size; they have slight differences in the bend or curve of the glass and may also have higher distortion when viewed from an angle. All of these differences may range from negligible to discernible depending on the quality. As with most ‘copy’ or non genuine products, the more cheaper the windscreen (than the original) the more flaws you will find.

 

Removal of the Manufacturer Logo.

Some windscreen manufacturers (or even wholesalers) will remove the car manufacturer’s logo (from the windscreen) if that particular product is to be sold outside the main dealer networks (specifically by an aftermarket glass wholesaler). There may be some commercial restrictions for this in terms of authority to sell genuine parts, and some of these parts may even have been rejected by the car manufacturer. This could be down to a quality issue, or simply down to order fulfilment.

 

What are some of the Main Differences Between OEM and OEE Windscreens?

 

  1. Clarity – Windscreens ‘bent’ during manufacture will show some distortion when viewed through at an angle. This can be described as waves or waviness. Aftermarket glass is pressed, moulded, fired (and cooled) during manufacturing in a slightly different way to the original. As a result of these differences the aftermarket process can create more distortion in the glass, especially on the curved parts of the glass. Often it is noticeably more.
  2. Safety – Both types of glass will be compliant as they go through the same ‘drop test’ if they are to meet the pass criteria. When both types meet certain safety guidelines, many installation companies will push the argument that aftermarket glass is ‘as good as’ or the same as the original version but the claim is based simply on this one similarity.
  3. Hardware – such as mirror brackets, ADAS camera and rain sensor mounts, radio antennae; heated windscreen elements; navigation modules and scuttle retainers. Aftermarket windscreen manufacturers use different materials for these ancillary and constituent parts. They’re often of a lesser quality and very obviously stuck on using less effective adhesives (sometimes double sided tape). The accuracy (in their placement on the glass) can often be someway off the correct axis. It is not uncommon to have to modify some of these parts to make mirrors and rain sensors fit properly, but with many cars featuring driver assistance devices (such as Adaptive Cruise Control and collision avoidance) the positioning of the mounting plates and brackets are vital.
  4. Silkprint – also known as the ‘obscuration band’ or frit. Some will have a dotted border, and others will be a defined line to border the glass edge enough to primarily help protect the adhesive from UV light, and also to cover the leading edge of the dashboard or conceal pillar trims. Genuine glass may have the logo of the car manufacturer incorporated into this (such as Jeep do on the Renegade model, for example). Aftermarket glass often will show misaligned VIN notches (the small area through which the vehicle’s chassis number is visible) or the dotted area around the mirror may show some imperfections.
Aftermarket Windscreen

Aftermarket Windscreen

 

Which Windscreen Should I Choose?

Ultimately, the decision is governed by price. This may not be the you – as the car owner’s decision; it may be driven by the deal struck between the insurer (or fleet operator) and the contracted repairer. What’s more important is how the glass is fitted. Who fits the glass and to what standard is just as important as the product fitted. There are some factors to consider in making that decision: the car. Is it a specialist car? Is it a car of high value? Is it a Marque of Distinction? Does the manufacturer warranty still cover the car? If you’re claiming for the damage via your insurer, what did you agree to before policy inception? If the car is your pride and joy, would you agree to have an inferior quality replacement part fitted?

In my 25 years experience fitting windscreen and glass to cars – from everyday production cars to the more exotic and rare automobiles – the Original Equipment parts are the best available. They just fit better. The whole experience of fitting a genuine windscreen does not present any issues in that process, and there is never a call weeks or months down the line to report a mirror boss falling off for example.

If an ‘equivalent’ does not bear the car manufacturer’s logo, it is usually nowhere near as one that does.

 

Manufacturer Warranty: Windscreens

 

 

I replaced a windscreen for an Audi dealer, however, there was nothing wrong with the glass. I asked what the change was for, and it was pointed out that there was an issue with the automatic rain and light sensor. So why was the windscreen cited as the issue?

In his report, the investigating Audi technician concluded that the sensor was not functioning due to the car having a non-genuine windscreen replacement; the (aftermarket screen in it was made by AGC Automotive). As the car was to be sold whilst still under manufacturer warranty the investigation ended there, and could not be resumed until a genuine, Audi branded glass was in place. I duly obliged. However, shortly into the strip-down I discovered what the cause of the issue really was: a damaged rain sensor. The previous installer had damaged the circuit board inside (there were screwdriver marks in the casing).

The car in question was registered in 2016, so much of its warranty would have still been in place; just as long as any parts replaced were authentic, Audi branded.

Rain Sensor 2

Windscreen Rain Sensor

 

Another similar situation unfolded when a Volkswagen main agent was investigating a sensitivity issue on a rain sensor on a fairly new Golf; the owner said the automatic wipers didn’t seem to react as well as he though they should. The VW technician noted the windscreen, an aftermarket version by Saint Gobain (Sekurit) and quickly surmised that it was the cause of the problem. I went along to give a second opinion.

The first place to look for obvious things that could be wrong with a poorly functioning rain sensor is the rain sensor module. I removed the rear view mirror assembly and immediately saw that the rain sensor was not seated properly in the mounting bracket. A push and a click later, the wiper sensitivity was restored to optimum level. However, VW did tell the Golf owner that if there was an issue with the rain sensor (or windscreen) whilst the car was under manufacturer warranty, it would not be covered owing to the non-genuine windscreen in the car.

Whilst these examples may seem excessive, windscreens can be much more complex than the two highlighted here. With radio antennae; heater elements; GPS hardware; Lane Departure Warning sensors; Autonomous Braking hardware; Head Up Display and more, the windscreen is no longer just a piece of glass shielding the car’s occupants from wind and flies. The best available parts, especially if the car is still under warranty (or the more technology connected to the glass) will always be what the vehicle manufacturer endorses.

 

Minding the ‘A’ Pillar Gap

 

 

 

Is it necessary to remove the ‘A’ pillar trims when replacing a windscreen. For most older, rubber fit windscreens: probably not. However, if you were replacing a bonded windscreen by the book, most definitely: yes.

Windscreen replacement is evolving at a rapid rate. This evolution however, is focusing on a fast fit culture to save time and money. So why is it important to remove the ‘A’ pillar covers, or trims?

Removing the windscreen: the trims are very close to the bond line. When cutting through the cured polyurethane – and whichever cutting method is used – there is risk of damage to the trim, or the trim covering. Some trims may even be touching the polyurethane [PUR] and have adhered to the moulding, or fabric covering.

A pillar trim gap

Too close for comfort

When fitting – or replacing – the windscreen, it is good practice to check for good contact by shining a torch up and down the ‘A’ pillars from inside the car. This is almost impossible to do with the covers in place. Also, if there is any ooze, you can tidy this up to prevent contact with the pillar trims.

'A' pillar trim removed showing proximity to edge

‘A’ pillar trim removed showing proximity to edge

A lot of firms and fitters are using trim protectors to prevent damage to these items, and the advent of fibre cutting wires has further reduced this risk. It does not however mean that the next time the windscreen is replaced any damage will be avoided as there is no emphasis on checking for proper contact; how can you, when it is behind a cover?

Annoying Sales Call Assassination

Quote

 

 

 

Mancunian bloke: “Can I speak to the business owner?”

Certainly. What’s your call in connection with?

“My name’s Gary and I’m calling from The Business Consultants. It’s a quick business enquiry about…”

[I interrupt his introduction] I can help you with that; do you have a registration number?

“What for?”

Your car…

“What about my car?”

So it’s not your car?

“What car?”

For someone who said it was a quick business enquiry, you’re dragging your feet a bit. How about a model and year?

“You what, mate?”

The car. What model is it?

“Whose car?”

Do you even know, yourself?

“Know what?”

Whose car it is?

“Why are you asking me about a car?”

…because you’ve called a windscreen replacement business and I cannot help *you* unless you help *me* identify the vehicle.

[he hung up] Job done. Killed him.

Leaking Windscreens are NOT Covered.

 

 

 

A trade customer – an independent garage – had a car in for service. They were also asked to look at a water leak in the front of the vehicle which turned out to be a poorly fitted windscreen. Water was dripping into the cabin from above the rear view mirror. The garage called me in to remove and refit the windscreen.

After a quick pre-inspection, there was also another problem: the windscreen itself was delaminating and was showing severe separation (of the sandwich construction). The glass was also extremely brittle (light pressure on the outer layer was displacing water from within the glass and PVB layers). Whilst the successful removal and refitting of the windscreen was still viable to eliminate the leaking issue, the glass itself was not fit for purpose, and thus unsuitable for reuse. A recommendation that glass should be replaced was relayed back to the vehicle owner.

The car owner contacted his insurer and explained that his car had a leaking windscreen. He claimed that they (the underwriters) were sympathetic and said they would ‘honor’ him with a new windscreen in the circumstances. Unless he has something exclusively written into his policy which covers him for the poor workmanship of a previous windscreen installer (before or during his ownership) leaky windscreens are not construed as damage, and therefore, not covered.

The following day the garage called to let me know that the windscreen was about to be replaced by the car owner’s insurer (or their nominated repairer).

My guess is that the call (from the car owner) to the insurance company would have been diverted to the nominated repairer. If the owner did state that the windscreen is leaking, is the repairer acting fraudulently? Was the onus more on the owner not to initiate contact with his insurer for an issue for which he was not entitled to be indemnified? Or was the insurer negligent?
On paper, the car owner got a new windscreen (worth well over £700) and the repairer delivered according to their service level agreement. However, the windscreen was not damaged. It was leaking. Leaking windscreens are not classed as damage, and therefore not covered by insurance.

Who’s to blame in this instance?

(Insurer’s name, the car owner’s name and the VRN have not been revealed to avoid litigation).

Windscreen Claims: Know Who You’re Dealing With

 

 

 

 

When a windscreen repair or replacement company says they can direct bill insurance companies, or that they’re ‘insurance approved’, there’s something else you should know.

Insurance companies do not like dealing with multiple suppliers. It’s far easier to deal with one two or three nationwide repairers which in turn makes dealing with any claims a much more manageable task for them. Typically, those repairers will be Autoglass, Auto Windscreens and National Windscreens. None of these companies use subcontractors or a supplier network. They operate in their own individual ways using their own employed staff. The exception to this used to be AA Autowindshields (now acquired by and operated by the same parent company as Auto Windscreens) who, in an attempt to cover areas in which they did not have a presence, would appoint a local company as a sub contractor to act on their behalf. Contracts are designed on service delivery, coverage and price.

Autoglass parent company Belron also operates (among its other businesses) Glasscare which acts as a price mechanism designed to profit from those who use it, and also to act as a (price) comparator in the interests of their sister windscreen fitting concern. The Supplier Invoice Control Program ( “SICP” ) allows smaller companies (those who do not have direct billing arrangements with the insurers for whom Glasscare are acting as agents) to invoice insurance companies for windscreen (and glass) repair and replacement jobs. The SICP system is a price regulator, and will also take steps to ensure that the claim is genuine. Each user of the system is required to input details specific to each claim – or job – before a prescribed rate is given. The rates are often questionable, but remain subjective to purchase price (of parts) and each individual business in terms of their size and operation. As its name suggests, the control program is tailored around the arrangement Autoglass has with each respective insurer. It does not entitle anyone using the system (other than the nominated supplier, Autoglass) direct access to any of those insurers. By this, the claim of having to ‘direct bill’ insurance companies is not true. Another false claim is for anyone – other than the prevailing preferred repairer – to claim they are insurance approved. Whilst Glasscare will occasionally and periodically audit its users, no checks are carried out on the work itself.

National Windscreens also operates a similar system. Whilst the brand is essentially nationwide, the company is made up of smaller independent companies who operate under the National Windscreens banner. Another similar network of suppliers quite new to the industry is Nationwide Windscreen Services. This is a group independent companies covering designated and predetermined areas of the country. Whilst National Windscreens or Nationwide may be better qualified to an insurance approved claim, it still does little more than delegate tasks to sub contractors who remain as third parties throughout.

There are no exceptions to the direct billing and insurance approved claims. There are however, some companies who do have a direct billing, or nominated supplier arrangement with some insurance companies, such as Silver Shield Windscreens and Catlin Insurance and Nationwide Motorglass and Hastings Insurance.