Vehicles with Glass Roofs Evolve and Grow in Automotive Industry
April 3, 2012

by Katie O'Mara, komara@glass.com

With the introduction of Ford’s Lincoln MKZ concept car and its glass roof, the usage of auto glass on the roof of vehicles is continuing to evolve and grow both in technology and popularity.

The Lincoln MKZ concept vehicle, which was unveiled earlier this year, features a panoramic glass roof that spans from the windshield to the top of the backlight. The fixed-glass expanse extends to the side roof rails of the cabin, creating an open interior.

While the concept vehicle is still being developed, the latest Lincoln MKZ, which is being released at the New York Auto Show this week, will feature a retractable panoramic roof. The 15.2-square-foot glass panel offers one of the largest openings available and maintains the structural strength of a steel-roof vehicle.

“Sunroofs have gone to panoramic roofs and now to retractable roofs,” says Jeff Olive, training manager at Glasspro in Mt. Pleasant, S.C. “Vehicles tend to go towards more glass because it makes the vehicle feel more spacious. We are seeing larger windows and sunroofs.”

“Glass roofs are here to stay,” says Bob Beranek, president of Auto Glass Consultants in Sun Prairie, Wis. “They will evolve with the mandates for fuel efficiency but I doubt that they will be any more standardized than the current windshields are.”

With new technology auto glass installers are constantly learning new installation techniques and tricks to ensuring the job is done well.

“Most retractable and stationary glass roofs are relatively easy to replace. In some cases, easier than a door glass installation. They are usually attached with common fasteners and require a resetting of the automatic reverse. You will have to purchase the part from a dealer, but you are assured of a good and accurate fit,” says Beranek. “The much harder install comes when the entire roof module needs replacing. This is usually when the retractable regulator is defective ... plan on all day to replace one of these.”

In cases where the entire roof module needs to be replaced, installers will need to plan for additional tools and manpower.

“If the entire roof needs replacing, you will need two people and a selection of tools available. These tools can include your normal cut out tools and wire, wire handles, long handled cutting tools, and probably some innovation,” says Beranek. “If it is only a replacement of the tractable part, just make sure of the resetting instructions for the automatic reverse system.”

Installers also will need to be sure to properly clean out the tracks, which can prevent problems for the customers later.

“Make sure you have cleaned all of the tempered glass out of the tracks. These are operated on a cable system and if you get tempered glass into the track it could affect the operation or jam the roof in an open position. Spend the extra time to do it right,” says Olive. “Ask if the vehicle was operated at all after the glass was broken. That can damage the mechanism. If the mechanism isn’t operating or doesn’t function properly then send it back to the dealership to be worked on.”

This story is an original story by AGRR™ magazine/glassBYTEs.com™. Subscribe to AGRR™ Magazine.
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