Automotive Warning Lights – Scrap a Useless System

Recent discussions in the automotive press have railed on the uselessness of the check engine light or called for an outright ban of the light.They’re on to something. Lets face it. The check engine light without the associated fault code or codes says nothing. However, in point of fact, the entire warning and indicator light system suffers from the very same problem:What is an oil light without a gauge?

What is a charging system light without a volt meter?

What is an ABS light without a fault code?

What is any of the dozens of other lights without more information?Of course, fault codes, gauges and meters are only of use to those with the ability to interpret them, which is the source of the ‘idiot light’ system in the first place. But the plain fact is that today’s vehicles have the capability to display not only an indicator light and fault code, but also an explanation of what is actually wrong in plain language AND what needs to be done at that moment:
Can the car be driven under the condition?

Does the car need to be towed?

Is there a REAL danger of loss of control?

Etc., etc., etc.Unfortunately, it is not likely that any manufacturer will step up and risk giving more detailed information to lay people out of liability fears. But the system as it exists now runs the real risk of needlessly frightening drivers with the circus of indicator and warning lights that can pop up at the drop of a gas cap. And sometimes two and three lights at a time.Further, with 20, 30 and even more indicators on instrument panels today, is there not a risk of saturation? When is enough enough? Every new system added to a vehicle is met with a new indicator and or acronym that, despite the best industry efforts, remain a mystery to the average driver. Seriously, most drivers need to get the kids to school and get themselves to their jobs. They are not car people and simply have too much on their plate as it is.Even experienced service personnel have to search their memory banks to correctly identify the meaning of some of the more obscure acronyms (AFS does NOT start with ‘Automatic’… ). Should the industry expect more from drivers?Seriously, before someone freaks out behind the wheel let’s stop throwing new lights at every new vehicle add-on and consider some alternatives. At the very least, new and existing lights should be accompanied by real and useful information.And since drivers should NOT be reading while driving, how about having the vehicle talk to the driver by voice? With all the discussion surrounding driver distraction and the integration of Siri and other voice command systems into infotainment systems, we are not so far from this ‘Eyes Free’ solution. It’s just a little to the left, in the instrument panel…Additional Reading: Automotive News (Nick Bunkley) and Jalopnik (Jason Torchinsky).

Automotive Glass Replacement – How to Replace Car Glass

Automotive window replacement can be done by the novice if he or she takes their time and has some instruction. It doesn’t require any special knowledge or expensive tools to replace car glass, but it does take patience! Here we will talk about replacing a fixed car glass that is bonded to the car body instead of being set into a removable frame.If you are going to replace car glass that is not set in a frame, then you will basically have to “cut” the old glass out of the car. This procedure requires a few inexpensive tools that are often not in a common tool collection. You need a piece of piano wire to use as a saw, and a couple of inexpensive suction cup handles to lift out the old glass (if it is still in one piece) and to place the new glass into position without touching the edges of the glass.The first step is to remove any molding that goes around the window. Molding can be attached in several different ways. It may be attached with some sort of clips, glued on, or may be just pushed onto a lip on the car body. This is one place where factory service information comes in handy! Some glass is flush-mounted with the exterior surface of the body and does not have any molding to remove. You also may need to remove one or more trim panels inside the car. Before starting to cut out the broken car window, apply tape to the car body all the way around the window to protect the paint. Next, use an awl to create a hole through the adhesive between the glass and the body. Then push a piece of piano wire through the hole, grab a helper to work the other end of the wire, and use a sawing motion to cut the adhesive all the way around the window. Once you have completely sawn all the way around the broken car window, use the suction cup handles to pull the glass out of the car body.That was the easy part! The next step is to remove all the old adhesive from the car body, which isn’t difficult but it can be tedious! Some service manuals instruct you to leave a thin layer of the original adhesive on the car and just smooth it out, but if it is an older vehicle that may not be the best choice. Once you have removed all the old adhesive (or smoothed it out), you will need to clean the surfaces thoroughly using rubbing alcohol or the cleaner specified by the instructions that came with the new adhesive. Then you will need to prepare both the new glass surface and the surface that the new adhesive contacts. Again, follow the instructions for the type of new adhesive you are using. There may be a primer that needs to be applied to the old adhesive, and sometimes a different primer that goes on the glass. Pay attention to any curing times that are specified. Be careful not to touch any of the contact surfaces with your hands, or you could prevent the adhesive from sealing and bonding properly. After prepping both surfaces, apply a bead of adhesive around the edge of the glass as instructed by the service manual and/or the adhesive instructions. You may be instructed to make the bead slightly larger in the corner areas.After the new adhesive has been applied and any recommended curing times have been observed, use the suction cup handles to install the new glass into position. Evenly press the glass into the adhesive until it is fully seated all the way around. Do not disturb the vehicle for several hours according to the adhesive instructions, and then be careful not to slam the doors and or drive on any excessively rough roads for several days until the adhesive has had time to fully bond with both surfaces.That covers the general procedure for auto glass installation. Automotive window replacement can certainly be done by a driver that doesn’t have any experience or training in this area, but some jobs are definitely easier than others! If this procedure doesn’t sound like something you want to tackle yourself, there certainly isn’t any shame in taking your car to an auto glass shop for a replacement, and most shops will even come to your home or workplace to do it for you.