How to Recognize a Low vs High Quality Windshield Installation
It’s easy to assume that all auto glass companies offer roughly the same quality of installations, but all too often corners are cut, just like in every other industry. These shortcuts save commission-based employees time and therefore make them more money, but they can be costly for you in both vehicle damage as well as your safety. If you’re not an auto enthusiast or work in the field, how are you ever to know the difference?
Cornerstone Auto Glass prides itself on being transparent and is proud to offer you the exact service methods and products that the Auto Glass Safety Council (AGSC) requires. In addition to being voluntary members of the council, subjugating ourselves to their review, we also want to take the time to educate our community about their options. We would like to invite each of you to decide for yourselves if the steps other companies are taking match up to the extensive care that we put into meeting safety standards and ensuring the highest quality windshield installations possible.
OEM Glass vs OEM Quality
All too often, consumers end up spending more than they need to on routine vehicle repairs and maintenance because they just don’t know any better. In the auto glass and windshield repair industry, customers will often receive quotes that do not include all necessary add-ons or customizations and end up paying more than they planned to in the end.
One useful distinction to make when requesting auto glass quotes is between OEM Glass and OEM Quality glass. OEM Glass is the Original Manufacturer’s Quality glass, the same as what would have been installed when your vehicle was brand new, and it even has the vehicle brand’s logo. Typically, insurance companies will only pay for OEM Glass if the vehicle is less than 2 years old and is still under a full-coverage policy.
In contrast, OEM Quality glass is considered equal in specifications to OEM Glass, but it is manufactured by aftermarket companies. Unless otherwise specified or requested, this aftermarket OEM Quality glass will always be used for a windshield replacement by any auto glass company. This type of glass will not have the original manufacturer’s logo, but is often covered by insurance windshield replacement policies. If you desire the logoed OEM Glass instead, be sure to mention it when you are requesting quotes to avoid any surprises when the bill comes.
The Auto Glass Removal Process
A successful, highest-quality repair starts with the proper removal of the old glass. Removing all the small miscellaneous parts from around the windshield, especially the cowl panel along the bottom of the windshield, is a commonly skipped step. Not removing these small pieces like the windshield wipers and other miscellaneous parts saves the commissioned installer a few minutes, but it ultimately runs the risk of your new windshield not being sealed properly. Removing the
cowl panel and other parts is a required step by the AGSC. For these reasons of quality and safety, Cornerstone Auto Glass fully complies with these requirements on every windshield. Not cutting this corner prevents leaks and is one of the reasons we have happy customers. We pay our technicians salary or hourly and don’t overbook them to ensure that they are never even tempted to take shortcuts like these.
Technicians will cut the windshield out through the old glue using an "L" shaped knife along the edge of the top and sides. This commonly leaves scratches in the paint under the windshield that are out of sight, but these small imperfections can cause problems for you later on if they are not addressed properly before the new windshield is installed. Cutting through the bottom edge of the windshield is done from inside the vehicle with either a "cold knife" or an
electronic removal tool, the more modern and common tool. If this process isn't done with care, however, the technician can actually damage the dashboard.
Once the old glass has been removed, a good technician trims the old urethane glue that was left behind. This essential step ensures that the new windshield will sit flush with the vehicle body and that the new adhesive is equally distributed for optimal utility and safety.
Finally, the removal isn’t complete without priming the vehicle body. This seals the scratches left from the removal and takes a few minutes. This inconvenient down time makes this another commonly skipped step by technicians. Eventually the lack of primer will allow for rust to begin to affect the body of the vehicle. Given that the effects are hidden, it’s easy to miss this lapse in service, but behind the scenes at Cornerstone Auto Glass, we have seen the damage that comes from not taking the time to prime first hand and have vowed to never compromise our customer’s vehicles in that way.
Prepping the New Glass for Installation
Another step taken to ensure the highest quality installs possible at Cornerstone Auto Glass, is our thorough inspection of new glass for any defects, before installation. Defective glass is immediately replaced by the
manufacturer before any further work is done by our technicians. We
understand how frustrating it might be to have to wait for new glass when
you’ve already got your vehicle scheduled for an install, but we will always take any extra steps necessary to ensure that every job we do is done right.
During this preinstall inspection, our technicians also clean the glass meticulously. Our techs will also take this time to prime the glass with Sika glass primer on all its edges in order to ensure the performance of the urethane adhesive.
Setting the New Glass
When the time has finally come to place the new glass, technicians will run the glue on either the vehicle body or on the glass itself, depending on the vehicle. At Cornerstone, we always use Sika's products, which is a heated product that cures as it cools, enabling our installs to meet safety standards within 30 minutes of
installation. This product is the highest rated urethane on the market. Some other products on the market don't reach safety standards for a full 24 hours after installation, even if they are allowing you to drive your car immediately following your service. This practice, in the worst case scenario, can affect the structural integrity of the vehicle in the event of an accident.
In addition to using the highest quality adhesive. Our technicians at Cornerstone Auto Glass use electric caulking guns to promote the smoothest, application. We are also
committed to setting the windshield into the pinch weld precisely. We always have two men on every job so that we can set both sides of each windshield at the same time, providing the best possible seal on every job.
We do not ever “stuff” our windshields! By properly removing the cowl panel and other hardware when removing the old glass, we can assure that we don't ever have to slide a windshield down into the pinch weld and therefore, that we never squish the adhesive. This shortcut is so commonly used by other Auto Glass companies that there is even an industry term for it: “stuffing” the windshield. Taking the time to do the install properly ensures that there are never any "wind
leaks" from our repairs, which are unfortunately all too common because of the time saving
Finally, the new glass is set by tapping the windshield gently into place. Our technicians will then replace all the external hardware, reclean the new glass, reinspect for any distortions that may not have been visible before installation and replace any E470 and other stickers. From start to finish, an installation takes between 30-90 minutes, and because of our use of Sika’s products your vehicle will be ready to roll in just 30 minutes after the glass is set!
Taking the Time to Do It Right, Every Time
Cornerstone Auto Glass is proud to offer a lifetime warranty on all of our installations, which is uncommon in the industry but is standard for our quality of service. We can offer this extension of coverage on our services and the products we use because of the great care we take throughout every step of the Auto Glass repair process, as you have just learned for yourself. We even cover “stress cracks” that result from defective glass. We are always happy to take care of any problems our customers may experience and will even contact the glass manufacturer for you if a replacement on one of our jobs is necessary.
When you care about your vehicle, chancing the quality of your windshield installation is never an option. Cornerstone Auto Glass is therefore honored to be the choice of car collectors, racers and other auto enthusiasts throughout Colorado. Little John, the owner of Cornerstone Auto Glass, builds our two-man installation teams personally with quality and safety standards in mind, but also to ensure that our customers never have to wonder if there is accountability to these “extra” steps and the “extra” time it takes to do the job right.
We know that when you love your car like we love cars, and know enough to make an informed decision, you’ll choose Cornerstone Auto Glass for all your repairs and installations.