Accident Raises Questions Regarding Repair Techniques

What was supposed to be an everyday windshield-repair job instead made headlines late last month when the car being repaired caught fire — along with the car next to it.

Firefighters in Redding, Calif., were dispatched around noon March 27 to a bank parking lot after a fire broke out during a rock-chip repair on the windshield of a Ford Fusion.

During the repair, a technician from Platinum Auto Glass used the open flame of a device similar to a barbecue lighter, along with a piece of metal to deflect the heat, according to fire officials. The technique didn’t work, and the flame caught the car’s dashboard on fire.

The Ford Fusion was engulfed in flames that spread to a parked Subaru Outback next to it. No one was injured in the fire, but both cars were totaled, according to officials.

Fire officials did not elaborate on what type of heating device was used in the repair attempt, and a message seeking comment from Platinum President Ted Arellano had not been returned at press time.

The accident raises questions about the repair technique, especially the use of an open flame.

An “open flame in a vehicle is never necessary for a windshield repair,” says David Casey, president of SuperGlass Windshield Repair. “It’s also a bad practice for safety.”

Casey explains that direct heat doesn’t cure the resin filling the crack. Rather, the heat warms the glass, causing it to expand. The “legs,” the subsurface cracks emanating from the break, swell shut and disappear — but only until the glass cools.

Applying direct heat is “a technique that people use when they have filled half a star leg and can’t fill the rest properly,” Casey says. “The result is an improper repair with resin that has been exposed to super extreme heat and ruining the cure.”

Worse for the customer, Casey says, is the cracks that had swelled shut when heated will return after the glass has cooled.

According to the Better Business Bureau website, Platinum Auto Glass has operated since 2007 and has an A-plus rating.

by Jacqui Barrineau, glassBYTEs contributing writer. 

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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7 Responses to Accident Raises Questions Regarding Repair Techniques

  1. Kerry Soat says:

    Cracks close with heat if you “overheat” a break. We started with only matches in the beginning. You couldn’t overheat a windshield break with just a match before you burnt your fingers. With lighters and torches it is a different method. The first time we used a lighter “Bic” we “de-laminated” the glass and had a resin line going up the windshield. We learned the hard way on that one.
    The application of heat is to soften the plastic liner allowing the break to open up and heated air in a break will rise faster than cold air in a break. If used properly “under vacuum” air gets sucked out of the break faster and much easier. Going back to pressure after “cooling down the area” allows the resin to fill the entire break which is the purpose of the repair.

    • David A Casey says:

      I did point out to the writer that heat can be applied with radiant heat gradually but should be done on the outer layer. The heat can be used to remove moisture and/or lighten the weight of the air in a damage.

  2. Mr Casey is 100 percent correct in his explanation of what happens when heat is applied to the inner layer. Given the proper technology there is NO reason to use a flame of any nature on the inner layer of a windshield. Everyone knows heat expands things , so if a repair is not filling properly and ‘old school’ trick is to apply heat to get the legs to appear to be filled. I thought we were better than that?

  3. Robert Mike says:

    Yes Casey is correct. It is never a good idea to use heat on a stone chip. Some tech’s that struggle with getting the cracks to fill often unknowingly apply the heat thinking it helps. The glass expands and can in some cases last for 12 or even 24 hours before they open back up. Please refrain from heating or drilling out the chips…but that’s another topic.

  4. The reason for applying heat to a damage is to evaporate moisture. If this is not done and moisture remains the repair will be substandard and any fool involved with glass repair should know this.
    If you are involved with glass replacement you will delight in a bad news story concerning glass repair but beware and dont show your ignorance with stupid biased comments.

    • David A Casey says:

      I do no replacement whatsoever but I still stand by my comments. In this case I believe the tech was heating to make legs disappear rather than removing moisture.
      Being in repair-only for many years I don’t think it’s a bad story about repair, it’s a story about bad repair.
      Non of the above comments are biased, they are informed.

      • The 2 reasons for applying heat are 1 to remove moisture and 2 to help remove air when on vacuum. Both operations should always be carried out from the exterior where the crack is.
        Your comment appeared to imply that closing the crack with heat would substitute a repair which could not work as the damage would reappear when it cooled down.
        I am sorry if I made the wrong assumption about you but our service is extremly valuable to both the environment and the economy when done correctly, it’s the all to common cowboys who get us a bad namuse anye. The all powerful replacement industry will always run down repair as it does them out of business.

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