A packed crowd of AGRR technicians and company owners descended on Baltimore in early October for Auto Glass Week™ 2014. A hot topic at this year’s event was a look at the new and expanding world of autonomous driving vehicles. AGRR owners wanted to know just how these changes could impact their businesses.
Offering tips on how to prepare was Mitch Becker, technical instructor for ABRA Auto Body & Glass, in an educational session called “New Cars, New Challenges—What’s Coming from Detroit.”
“Every vehicle has its own unique design, construction and safety features, and every crash presents its own unique condition. As vehicle construction becomes increasingly complex, training must be reviewed and changed to meet the demands of today and tomorrow,” according to Becker.
One important thing to keep an eye out for is aluminum-bodied vehicles, Becker noted. As automakers strive to meet new CAFÉ Standards, they are turning more to this material. Aluminum is up to 30-percent lighter than steel. It is also corrosion resistant, dent resistant and tends to perform better in crashes, he said.
So what impact does this material have on replacements?
“Using steel tools on aluminum parts is not a good idea,” Becker explained. “You need to be aware of the material you’re dealing with. I need to give credit to all the wire tools out there. These can save you a lot of issues on aluminum products.”
Aluminum can be easier to work with and if the manufacturer calls for non-conductive urethane, use it, he added.
“If we use the wrong urethane on aluminum it can cause over-flex and corrosion later on,” Becker pointed out.
Are we going to see more aluminum vehicles in the near future? Of course, according to Becker.
In addition to keeping the material in mind when working, you also have to keep in mind how different parts of the vehicles can be tied together with collision warning systems, Becker said.
Most lane monitor systems have stereo cameras. These cameras can sometimes be connected to the ABS instrument cluster and even steering, he pointed out. Every automaker has its own set of instructions to follow when a camera is moved or replaced.
“The changes in technology are affecting every part of the car, not just the glass,” he explained. “… You need to be aware of the electronics in vehicles and properly recalibrating these. … If you run into a windshield that involves recalibration of a camera, I would like to know about. We need to know if we have a problem with aftermarket versus manufacturer glass. We’re trying to get a database together and collect as much information as we can.”
“Glass not only is structural, but can hinder safety equipment [and keep it] from working correctly,” Becker said. “…The safety of the occupants are at stake if correct procedures are not followed.
“An incorrect windshield can result in huge safety system failures … Even more care is needed to verify you are using the right part [going forward],” he added.
Where is technology headed in the future? According to Becker, this includes:
—More cameras on or by the glass;
—Self-driving or near-self-driving cars; and
—More head’s up displays.
“The windshield will become a hub of information for the [vehicle] occupants,” Becker noted.