IIHS Demonstrates Crash Between a 1959 Chevrolet Bel Air and a 2009 Chevrolet Malibu in Honor of 50th Anniversary; Becker Uses Crash to Explain the Latest in Steel and How It Impacts Glass Replacement
December 11, 2009

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) recently conducted a crash test between a 1959 Chevrolet Bel Air and a 2009 Chevrolet Malibu in honor of its own 50th anniversary. Despite the size of the Bel Air, the Malibu fared much better in the crash.

"It was night and day, the difference in occupant protection," says Institute president Adrian Lund. "What this test shows is that automakers don't build cars like they used to. They build them better."

During a recent seminar titled "New Cars, New Challenges," ABRA Auto Body's Mitch Becker showed this video, and pointed out that one of the major evolutions in the auto industry has been the changes in the steel used in vehicles. The seminar was part of the International Auto Glass Safety (AGRSS) Conference held in Las Vegas in November.

"It doesn't matter how much steel you put in [the older vehicles], it doesn't compete with today's high-strength steel," Becker said.

Today, he said the evolution continues, as auto makers continue to push for even more high-strength steel to be used in the front of vehicles.

"Are we seeing an evolution?" he asked. "Yes."

Becker also pointed out that it's important for auto glass technicians to familiarize themselves with the types of steel that can be used.
"It's not enough to know how to replace the windshield," he said. "You need to be able to identify the types of steel used."

"Are there a lot of things to consider? You bet," Becker added.

He also cautioned that it's always important to identify what makes up the bonding surface, when it come to roofs, A-pillars and tailgates, and to treat it accordingly.

Becker advised against using tools such as induction heaters, unless you know how it could affect the rest of the vehicle.

"An [induction heater] does release the windshield, but it also removes the roof's adhesive bond, too," he said.

Becker also stressed that it's important to train techs how to handle a situation when they do damage a pinchweld.

"Our techs have to know that they've got to get the primer into that scratch," he said.

CLICK HERE to view a video of the crash test.

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