As temperatures plummeted to 40-below with the wind chill factor in Indiana, many businesses were shuttered Monday, including automotive glass shops. Much of the state is under a red travel emergency level, meaning the only traffic permitted on the roads is emergency vehicles and residents who are seeking shelter. In other parts of the country facing frigid temperatures, such as Minneapolis, Minn., and Detroit, many automotive glass companies opened as usual Monday.
“Business is good,” says Lindsay Fraenkel, manager of Speedy Auto Glass in Minneapolis, Minn. “People are getting out and traveling. Traffic isn’t at all hindered. Temperatures are at about 20-below. We’ve seen business pick up with the winter weather.”
“Our company is doing just fine,” says Kelly McFerran of Walser Auto Glass in Bloomington, Minn. “It’s cold but people are getting out and about. Business is about the same. We’re seeing a little bit more business than usual.”
Automotive glass companies in Detroit, however, were feeling the winter weather pinch as travel was difficult for motorists Monday.
“Business is not too good,” says the customer service representative who answered the phone at Joe’s Auto Glass in Detroit. “Right now nobody can move out there. Distributors are closed, too.”
By and far, Indiana appears to be the hardest hit.
“The move by Mayor Greg Ballard on Sunday is the first time Indianapolis has issued such a travel warning since the 1978 blizzard,” according to a local report.
glassBYTEs.com™ editors called multiple automotive glass companies in the city and no phones were answered. It appears companies are heeding the Mayor’s warning about weather.
By noon, the Indianapolis travel level was raised to orange, meaning residents should remain off the roads if possible. However, most of the state remains in the red, according to the Indiana Department of Homeland Security.
And the Indianapolis mayor asked schools to remain closed through Tuesday.
For technicians and automotive glass company owners working in bitter temperatures, Dale Malcolm, technician manager of aftermarket for Dow Automotive Systems, offers some advice.
“In temperatures from 40 degrees to zero, use a product rated for the appropriate minimum drive away time to meet the customer’s needs in the current weather conditions,” says Malcolm. “If you switch products to accommodate the colder temperatures, be sure to familiarize yourself with the necessary primers and procedures required and follow the adhesive manufacturer’s instructions exactly.”
Mobile work can be conducted safety in temperatures down to zero degrees Fahrenheit, says Carl Tompkins, global marketing resources manager for Sika Corp.
All cleaners, primers and adhesives required for the next day should be kept in a warm place overnight, Malcolm adds. This prevents the need to try and thaw them the next day.
“Products like primers and adhesives that do not contain water will not freeze like water-based cleaning products, but both still need to be warmed thoroughly to the correct application temperature before use,” he says.
“The key is to warm products uniformly, which provides a word of caution to those techs who like to throw a couple of cartridges or foil packs up onto the dashboard to receive a blast of hot air from the defroster; heating one side more than the other can be a problem. Rotate the package,” Tompkins points out. .
Offering further advice, Malcolm cautions, “Most glass cleaners contain some water and if applied to a below-freezing surface, ice can form that may not be visible. Clean and decontaminate glass in the shop if possible and transport it to the shop in an enclosed vehicle. … Many primers require extra time to dry to cure at lower temperatures, so know and follow the adhesive manufacturer’s procedures for working in colder temperatures.”
Tompkins concurs, saying, “Remember that cleaners and primers slow down when below 40 degrees. Make sure to follow the written procedures for cold weather installations, paying special attention to the time factors.”
If at all possible, take the vehicle into a heated area to work, Malcolm recommends.
“Plastic clips and parts will incur less damage. Mouldings will fit better and the technician will be better able to focus on the task at hand instead of fighting the cold,” Malcolm says.
However, if you must work outside, Malcolm says to warn customers of the possibilities of “small cracks or pops from the combination of cold plastic mouldings rubbing against clean paint until the adhesive fully cures and achieves maximum stiffness. In extreme temperatures, this might take several days and is normal.”
But ultimately, dress warmly and build in heating breaks.
“The safety and health of the technician comes first, so dress appropriately, keeping exposed skin to a minimum … Time your procedures to build in small warming breaks to avoid frostbite and maintain finger dexterity,” according to Malcolm.