Winter Weather Complicates Auto Glass Installations

This week’s winter storm, sending chilly temps, snow, and ice to many parts of the U.S., provides a good reminder of the unique challenges auto glass installers face when temperatures drop below freezing.

“For me, under 45 to 50 degrees is a no-no,” says Karl Anderson of Anderson Glass in Williston, Vt. He notes that while glass primers and urethanes are available for zero-degree temperatures, pinchweld primers aren’t there yet.

“You may be good at not scratching the pinchweld, but it does or will happen,” he says. “What [happens] then when it’s below 40 degrees?”

When it comes to explaining to customers, Anderson, who does both mobile and in-shop work, rarely has a problem.

“I cannot recall losing a customer due to the weather,” he says. “I’ll explain that plastic does not bend all that good in the cold and [that there is a] possibility of frost forming on the car, possibly jeopardizing the seal.”

Then, he offers customers two options: to bring the vehicle in (if he/she doesn’t have a heated garage) or for the shop to pick the vehicle up, do the work in-shop, and deliver it to the customer’s home when complete. So far, Anderson has seen days as cold as -21 degrees.

Ian Graham of Windshield Solutions LLC in Roanoke, Va., runs a strictly mobile business.

“I usually just explain the facts to the customer if it is below freezing and no warm shelter is accessible,” he says. “Most people are very understanding and will work with you on re-scheduling.”

Cold weather often requires a longer time for windshield installations, as the cold affects the time it takes for the urethane bonding the windshield to the frame of the vehicle to cure, meaning longer, minimum drive-away times.

Jeff Olive, director of quality and safety at the Auto Glass Safety Council, knows a thing or two about cold-weather installations, having logged 40 years installing windshields, starting out in Wisconsin, a state with no shortage of sub-zero temperatures and mountains of snow and ice in the winter.

“I first started in auto glass when I lived in Wisconsin,” Olive says. “I installed glass when the wind chill was 40 below zero.”

“In the shop, you’re dealing with a vehicle that may have ice or snow build up on the roof and you really can’t remove or scrape the snow or ice because you don’t want to damage the paint,” Olive says.

According to Peter Brown of Tiny & Sons in Pembroke, Maine, a big challenge is convincing customers that remote installations can’t be done when it’s bitterly cold outside.

This article is from glassBYTEs™, the free e-newsletter that covers the latest auto glass industry news. Click HERE to sign up—there is no charge. Interested in a deeper dive? Free subscriptions to Auto Glass Repair and Replacement (AGRR) magazine in print or digital format are available. Subscribe at no charge HERE.

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1 Response to Winter Weather Complicates Auto Glass Installations

  1. John Doe says:

    There’s no mention of the cold effecting the technitions? Techs’ can’t move aroud easily, trying to stay warm in so many layers. Not to mention that hands don’t want to work very well in the cold weather. If you wouldn’t leave a pet ouside in that weather, why should a person have to work outside in those conditions? Try to unravel a garden hose in those temperatures, it won’t flex. Many door panels and moldings are made of the same or similar materials, they won’t flex either, they just crack or break in the cold. Why risk damaging someones veh. when the damage to your reputation and the veh. can cost you so much more in the end!

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