The 7 Steps of Installation
December 1, 2005
One of the most important steps in a successful installation, pre-inspection can mean the difference between good and bad customer relations, as well as a safe or unsafe installation. An experienced technician looks at the inspection as a liability procedure and as an indication of how the installation is to proceed, if it can be done at all. Items to look for are:
• Dents and scratches in the work area. Concentrate on the passenger side of the vehicle. It is the least noticed side and the most susceptible to damage.
• Early signs of corrosion. If corrosion is visible before moldings are removed, it is an indication that there is more corrosion under the glass or molding. It might be necessary to discuss bodywork or the possibility of denying the installation according to the ANSI/AGRSS 002-2002 Standard.
• Molding fit. If the molding is not fitting flush to the body or glass, it could indicate a previous installation or other hidden problems. This also should be discussed with the customer.
• Missing or damaged parts. This can indicate a previous installation. It could mean the installation might take longer to complete to the customer’s satisfaction.
• Aftermarket paint jobs. These are usually indicated by orange-peel texture, improper color matching or overspray on moldings. This can indicate previous bodywork and cause problems with glass fit or paint peeling by removal of the molding or protective tape.
• Interior stains or damage. Check the seats, floor, headliner and interior garnish moldings.
• Electronic and mechanical items. These include wipers, radio, lights, window regulators and power door locks.
It is always a good idea to inspect the vehicle in the customer’s presence. If this is impossible, a pre-inspection form will help make the inspection more professional. Complete the form and leave it for the customer along with his or her copy of the work order.
Once you’ve documented any pre-existing damage, the next step is to protect the vehicle from damage that you might cause. Habits to develop are:
• Drop cloths for interior protection. It might be a good idea to use shower curtains as drop cloths. They will not allow liquid to penetrate the vinyl and can be used as waterproof covers for the pinchweld opening in bad weather. Another inexpensive option is a fitted bed sheet. It can be draped over the back of the seats to protect the entire interior.
• Fender covers for exterior painted surfaces. Do not place toolboxes on the vehicle, only individual tools you are using. Inexpensive alternatives to mechanic’s fender covers are old towels.
• Use protective tape on susceptible painted areas, such as the fenders, top corners and along the hood. A heavy fabric tape, such as duct tape, is the best. Stick the tape to your shirt or fabric to take away the aggressiveness of the adhesive. It is unnecessary to flatten the tape to the surface; just drape it over the area to be protected. Remove it as soon as the danger of damage is over. Make sure that you don’t use duct tape on aftermarket paint.
• Tape up the defroster vents. They are open to any debris that might fall from the pinchweld or the broken glass. If not covered or cleaned out, the customer could be injured from flying glass or dirt when he or she turns on the defroster.
Always admit damage to the customer if it occurs. Trying to hide damage you caused will upset the customer more than admitting your mistake.
The removal step of the installation procedure has always been the most difficult. However, the introduction of power tools and new hand tools has greatly eased our job. The goal is to get to the edge of the glass; the rest is easy. To assure that the finished installation is both pleasing to the eye and safely bonded to the metal, the following procedures are recommended:
• Have replacement moldings available in case you damage the original moldings. This also ensures that if you bend or misshape the moldings, the job will always look good when finished.
• Pull the cowl panel. In most cases, the cowl should be pulled to allow for the best bottom bond. Proper deployment of the passenger-side air bag generally depends on the adhesion of the bottom seal of the windshield. If the cowl is not pulled, the bottom bond cannot be ensured.
• When using hand tools for removal, start with the shortest blade in the cold knife and work up to the longer blade. This gives you more control of the tool and makes the cutout easier.
• When using power tools, lubricate the tool by spraying water on the adhesive to be cut and on the blade. This reduces the harmful fumes caused by the high speed of the blades and makes the tool work smoothly. Plain water is recommended over soapy water because it will not contaminate the bonding surface.
Preparation includes the two surfaces to be bonded, the glass and the metal pinchweld. This is a very important step. Improperly preparing the surfaces can mean the failure of the bond, resulting in leaks, or worse, the glass part separating from the metal completely.
• Use an adhesive system. Only use the preps, primers and cleaners recommended by the adhesive manufacturers. Do not mix brands.
• Clean the glass with an adhesive manufacturer-approved glass cleaner. Always clean the bonding edge first while the towel is at its cleanest. Wash the transparent area last.
• Use foaming glass cleaner to clean the glass. This pinpoints contamination by separating the foam. Once you locate the contamination, wipe or scrub the area and retest it to ensure the surface is clean and contaminant free. Always ask your adhesive manufacturer for glass cleaning recommendations.
• Know the procedures for prepping the glass in all situations, including fritless glass, encapsulation bonding and pre-applied adhesive system bonding.
• Use only adhesive manufacturer-approved applicators.
• Allow all preps and primers to dry thoroughly.
• Remove all surface corrosion and repair according to your adhesive manufacturer’s recommendations. Urethane cannot adhere to rust; it must be removed and prepared correctly.
• Clean all dust, dirt, oils and greases from the metal surface.
• Prime only scratches or unprimed painted surfaces.
• Leave 1⁄16 inch of old urethane on the pinchweld. This improves bonding. Urethane adheres better to itself than to other surfaces.
• Dry fit the glass and the moldings. This procedure assures the best positioning of the glass and the flush fit of the moldings.
• Check the condition of the gravity stops and setting blocks. They might have to be replaced or added. Prepare both bonding surfaces and plan for any other procedural conditions.
• Installation consists of the application of the urethane, the setting of the glass in the opening and the installation of the decorative moldings and cowl. To guarantee the best results, follow these simple procedures:
• Use a triangular adhesive bead to ensure a smooth and solid bond to the glass. It wets out solid with no bubbles or air spaces.
• Make sure that the bead is tall enough to make contact with both the glass and metal surfaces. This is especially important in a blind set when the moldings are placed on the glass before setting it into the opening.
• Do not use butyl tape as a dam. Butyl is not compatible with urethane adhesive. If a dam is necessary, use open-celled foam dams recommended for automotive use.
• Replace acoustical dams. Most acoustical dams are located at the bottom of the pinchweld area. They muffle the engine noises that filter up from the engine compartment.
• Make sure all molding clips are in good condition. Replace if necessary.
• Make sure the pinchweld is clean and dry before applying the adhesive. Urethane cannot adhere to wet surfaces. This includes condensation due to cold weather.
• Water test every job after setting the glass to check for leaks and help the adhesive cure.
• The use of suction cups when setting the glass ensures that the bonding surfaces are not contaminated by oils on your hands. If you use your hands, take care not to touch the bonding surfaces.
As far as the customer is concerned, cleanup is the most important step. They expect you to leave the vehicle cleaner than the way they left it with you. Be as neat as possible throughout the installation process.
• Use approved solvents. Most adhesive manufacturers produce a solvent specially designed for use with their adhesives. It is adhesive-friendly and will not contaminate the bond. Release agents are not adhesive-friendly; they can break down the seal and cause failure in the bond.
• Use damp solvent cloths. Soaked towels allow too much solvent to penetrate the adhesive.
• After vacuuming the vehicle, warn the customer that glass might still be present. Recommend a professional detailer to fully clean the interior.
• It is good customer service to clean all the glass on the car, not just the one replaced.
• Don't forget the hidden mess under the door latch, in the armrest, on the interior A pillar, on the steering wheel and behind the rearview mirror.
This step includes tool inventory, extra parts, paperwork and customer instructions.
• Give the customer instructions on drive-away times, venting the vehicle, car washes, tape removal and warranty information.
• Check for any tools you might have left behind.
• Make sure all parts are installed.
• Conduct a critical inspection of your work. If possible, have the customer inspect it as well.
• Make notes on the work order of any unusual circumstances such as rust, customer concerns, warranty adjustments and body deformity.
• Thank customers for their business.