Ahead of the Game
by Steve Coyle
Installing glass isnt as easy as it once was. Several years ago, the only thing you needed to worry about when replacing windshields was whether or not the installation would leak. You did your best to be sure any holes in the pinchweld were filled and bent mouldings were straightened. Then you were finished with the job. Well, things have changed and with todays vehicles there is a lot more to it. Aside from the important issue of returning the vehicle to meet original equipment (OE) structural specifications, you now have to deal with all of the technology the vehicle manufacturers are adding for the drivers convenience.
Rain sensors, antennas for radios, keyless entry systems and receivers for GPS satellite systems all come into play on some of todays vehicles. You must be sure to remove and replace these systems correctly, assuring they work when the customer needs them. It is always a good idea to check their operation before releasing the vehicle back to the customer.
Take for instance rear-view mirrors. At one time they were not even a part of the glass installation process. The manufacturers simply attached them to the glass. Now the rear-view mirrors are high dollar mini-computers, which can tell temperature, act as a compass and even display e-mail. Recently, while I was in Germany, the Mercedes taxicab we were riding in displayed the fare in the rear-view mirror. What will they think of next?
You may run into several different part-numbers for the windshield or backlites for the same vehicle. It is very important to understand the options on the vehicle to assure you are using the correct part. If the correct part is not used, you could affect the operation of these options, including operation of the console mounted garage door opener. Who would have thought the job would get this specific?
So how do you as a glass technician stay up-to-date on this technology? One way is to subscribe to technical publications that are available in the industry. Also, by attending industry trade shows and technical training programs you will learn about new technology and how to work with it. Whatever you decide is your best resource for this information, keep in mind that it is a valuable investment in the long run.
Steve Coyle is part of the Performance Achievement Group, an auto glass training company in Madison, Wis.
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