AGRR Magazine

Industry Reacts to Possibility of Required Windshield Etching for Modifications

Following the announcement by the National Windshield Repair Association (NWRA) that it has learned that the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) is working on a new updated Z26 draft standard that may require all "modifications" (including repairs and replacements) to original factory-installed glass be marked on the glass so as to catalogue all alterations, the industry has been filled with a mixture of emotions about the possibility.

Paul Syfko, president of the NWRA and president of Glass Medic America in Westergate, Ohio, says that though little is known about the possible standard at this point, the possibility of etching is of grave concern to the industry.

"At this stage I don't know exactly what [the proposed draft standard says], but worst-case scenario if [technicians] have to etch right where they repair, first, the technician has to come up with a way to complete that process, and second, if you have to mark where that repair is it's a bit counterproductive," he says.

Ian Graham of Windshield Solutions in Cloverdale, Va., says cosmetically most customers would not be for the practice of marking repaired windshields either.

"Some windshields have three to five repairs over their lifetime," he says. "I don't know too many people who would want five etchings going across the bottom of their windshields."

However, Graham says he can understand the proposal that replaced windshields be etched—and already has a plan for how he would go about this if required.

"As far as the replacements go, etching a company logo would probably be OK," he says. "As far as spilling acid, I would do the etch before the windshield was installed in the vehicle. Also, there are systems out there [that] don't require the open use of acid."

Karl Anderson of Anderson's Auto Glass in Williston, Vt., says this practice is not new to him.

"I have been etching my logo into every windshield I replace," he says. "I have been [doing so] for the last 10 or so years."

He says the advantage to him is that it takes the guesswork out of warranty issues.

"[I can say] 'yes, that is my windshield' or 'nope, it has been replaced since I did the job'—and it helps to see how the work is standing up in later replacements."

Corey Hemperley, operations manager of Windshield Solutions Inc. in Pocatello, Idaho, agrees that he also can see benefits to the possible windshield etching requirement.

"How many times do you see a leaking or failing windshield and the customer bought it used with no way to find out who performed the service?" he asks. "It is truly terrifying just how at-risk the American driving public is and how little they can actually do about it. Even in an accident the emergency or investigative personnel have little to go on if the windshield retention fails."

Finally, despite the currently unknown details of what windshields might need to be etched when modified and where the etching would be conducted under the proposed draft standard, Syfko notes that the process itself could take away from both repair and replacement shops' already-low margins.

"It would be an additional hardship in an industry where profits keep shrinking," he says.

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