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My solution for quarter panel break ins

Would you do this?

  • Yes

  • Maybe

  • Never


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Clemmy

Member
Jan 31, 2019
6
25
Oakland
Like many many Model 3 owners, my car was broken into through the rear quarter panel (and per the glass repair place, it is the "common side"). The glass repair place didn't even have more windows in stock because they are having to replace them all day every day because this has turned into such a common problem.

I was parked at a mall only to come out to find the glass shattered all over, and my back seat pulled down. I never carry anything in my car, so they weren't able to get anything. But I got the fun of having a $500.00 glass repair to look forward to.

Here's what I did. . . .


IMG_4689 2.jpg


Aluminum panels on both sides. I have seen so many people with the same problem, I didn't want to replace the glass, only to have it broken again.

Might be a little silly, but it hopefully solves the problem. Since the window are not functional, only there for aesthetics, I thought I'd do something about it.

I know "sentry" mode is coming, but in all honesty, I doubt that will stop anyone from continuing to break in.

I'm assuming , at least for the moment, I have a one of a kind Model 3:)
 
Upvote 0

EVnut

DARΞLL
Mar 24, 2009
1,606
1,243
Davis, CA
(and per the glass repair place, it is the "common side").

I assume you mean the the driver side as the "common side?" Shown is the passenger side, but you said you did both... so I'm not sure which one was broken on your car. I assume the driver side is more common because that's the "curb side" when parallel parked, and it allows access to the larger rear seat fold-down. It also happens to be the side that was broken on mine, and what the guy who replaced my glass said was most common.

Aluminum panels on both sides. I have seen so many people with the same problem, I didn't want to replace the glass, only to have it broken again.
This is awesome. And not silly in my book! Before mine was broken, I was actually shopping around for a way to have a sheet of stainless cut for that window. Currently, my glass is coated on the outside with PPF, but I'm still quite interested in this, and have a few questions (I hope you come back to the thread to comment at some point...)

How did you pattern and cut the aluminimum? Is that cut file available for others? (It appears to be an absolutely perfect fit, which I know from experience is not simple) What gage of sheet metal did you use? Did you contour it to the rounded glass, or is it flat? How did you hold it in place?

I'm assuming , at least for the moment, I have a one of a kind Model 3:)
Maybe add some louvers and it would look like the super Mustangs of yore. :)
 

EVnut

DARΞLL
Mar 24, 2009
1,606
1,243
Davis, CA
I think a clear replacement would be better, maybe acryllic or strong plastic. The theif needs to spend some time trying to break the window, then hopefully give up. If they see a solid piece, they might automatically go for the bigger window.
This is one of the reasons that I went with PPF on my glass. I would like to keep them entertained for long enough to give up... instead of immediately letting them know to choose another window.

That said, the door glass is cheaper to replace that the rear window (so I'm told by the guy who replaced my glass). So that's a small silver lining. The bummer of the door glass being broken is that you really can't drive around with that glass missing, while it's pretty easy to patch up the quarter glass until the repair is made.

Gah. I can't believe I'm comparing the various "conveniences" of broken glass....
 

Clemmy

Member
Jan 31, 2019
6
25
Oakland
EVnut is correct. They are purely cosmetic.

Also, EVnut, the "common side", according to the glass guy, was the passenger side. . . .maybe that's just in his case, but he had a lot of drivers side replacements, but no passenger ones.

As for how this was done, I am am NOT "handy" when it comes to these things, so I reached out to a bunch of metal fabricators. MOST of them were too afraid to try, but one guy said "sure, let's see what we can do". He loved the challenge.

The way the glass piece works is that the glass and trim are ONE piece. It is simply glued on with a glue that seals it. There are also 3 plastic pegs that go into the car that also hold the window.

What he was able to do was remove the whole piece, separate the trip off of the whole glass piece, and then made a rough shape to match the shape of the glass. That metal piece was then glued on in the same spot the glass was creating the same seal. Then, he used another type of metal adhesive (sorry, like I said, I'm not handy so I don't know what it was) to stick the trim to the metal. The trim also has two small pegs that fit into the trim to the right of it kind of like legos (if that makes sense)

He then used silicon to put a small seal around the inner part of the trim.

It was a learning experience, but now that we know how it works, it would be even easier next time.

But the metal piece is slighting larger than the exact dimensions of the original window, to make sure that it would fit, and the trim is covering the edges.


Spudlime, yes, I thought to leave the seats down as well, but as I have kids and a dog, etc, I would be putting them up and down every time I got into the car and that just seemed like an enormous pain (or I'm simply too lazy) :)

Anyway, that's the info I have.
 

EVnut

DARΞLL
Mar 24, 2009
1,606
1,243
Davis, CA
EVnut is correct. They are purely cosmetic.

Also, EVnut, the "common side", according to the glass guy, was the passenger side. . . .maybe that's just in his case, but he had a lot of drivers side replacements, but no passenger ones.

As for how this was done, I am am NOT "handy" when it comes to these things, so I reached out to a bunch of metal fabricators. MOST of them were too afraid to try, but one guy said "sure, let's see what we can do". He loved the challenge.

The way the glass piece works is that the glass and trim are ONE piece. It is simply glued on with a glue that seals it. There are also 3 plastic pegs that go into the car that also hold the window.

What he was able to do was remove the whole piece, separate the trip off of the whole glass piece, and then made a rough shape to match the shape of the glass. That metal piece was then glued on in the same spot the glass was creating the same seal. Then, he used another type of metal adhesive (sorry, like I said, I'm not handy so I don't know what it was) to stick the trim to the metal. The trim also has two small pegs that fit into the trim to the right of it kind of like legos (if that makes sense)

He then used silicon to put a small seal around the inner part of the trim.

It was a learning experience, but now that we know how it works, it would be even easier next time.

But the metal piece is slighting larger than the exact dimensions of the original window, to make sure that it would fit, and the trim is covering the edges.
OK, now I'm REALLY impressed that you found a guy to do it right. It appears to fit so well, because it is a *substitute* for the glass, not added on top of it. wow. I certainly *thought* about doing that, but simply don't have the resources at my disposal. So did you use a new glass assembly, or re-use the busted one? (I know from experience that the quarter window trim is destroyed when that rear window is removed, so I'm still trying to make sense of that part. It sounds like your guy got it off with the trim intact?? Double wow.)

Hmmmm. I see you're only about 70 miles away from me... is your guy in Oakland? If I have glass broken again, I'd love to go this route.
 

Dave EV

Active Member
Jun 23, 2009
1,928
1,664
San Diego
There's tons of online (and local) machine shops that will take any sheet metal (aluminum, stainless, etc), cut it to spec with a water jet. In decent volume (a few hundred or more), the cost should be low - $10-20. If you want to If using aluminum, get it hard-anodized a dark color and it won't look much different than tinted glass. If you want to bend the metal to match the OEM glass, that could be a bit trickier depending on the metal and add some cost.

Hard part is removing the glass from trim and installing the metal. But if the window assy costs ~$200, I could see someone replacing it with metal for $300-500 in volume. If you could get the trim without the glass, it would be even cheaper and easier.
 

EVnut

DARΞLL
Mar 24, 2009
1,606
1,243
Davis, CA
There's tons of online (and local) machine shops that will take any sheet metal (aluminum, stainless, etc), cut it to spec with a water jet. In decent volume (a few hundred or more), the cost should be low - $10-20. If you want to If using aluminum, get it hard-anodized a dark color and it won't look much different than tinted glass. If you want to bend the metal to match the OEM glass, that could be a bit trickier depending on the metal and add some cost.

Hard part is removing the glass from trim and installing the metal. But if the window assy costs ~$200, I could see someone replacing it with metal for $300-500 in volume. If you could get the trim without the glass, it would be even cheaper and easier.
Yes to all that. You covered it well. Cutting the metal to the same shape of the glass (if the glass is in hand) is quite simple and relatively inexpensive. It is the installation into the window assembly that's the bugger. The chances of being able to purchase an empty window assembly is probably about as high as Tesla offering the assembly with a metal insert in there already!

Still... I smell a business opportunity here for somebody! :)
 

Clemmy

Member
Jan 31, 2019
6
25
Oakland
OK, now I'm REALLY impressed that you found a guy to do it right. It appears to fit so well, because it is a *substitute* for the glass, not added on top of it. wow. I certainly *thought* about doing that, but simply don't have the resources at my disposal. So did you use a new glass assembly, or re-use the busted one? (I know from experience that the quarter window trim is destroyed when that rear window is removed, so I'm still trying to make sense of that part. It sounds like your guy got it off with the trim intact?? Double wow.)

Hmmmm. I see you're only about 70 miles away from me... is your guy in Oakland? If I have glass broken again, I'd love to go this route.


Yes, my guy was able to pull the trim off on both panels. It was easier to get off of the broken one because the glass structure was bendable, but he was also able to do it with the "good window as well". I had him also take off the good window and replace it too since I didn't want that broken either. My guy that did this for me is in Santa Clara (I work down in the South Bay).
 

Clemmy

Member
Jan 31, 2019
6
25
Oakland
Yes to all that. You covered it well. Cutting the metal to the same shape of the glass (if the glass is in hand) is quite simple and relatively inexpensive. It is the installation into the window assembly that's the bugger. The chances of being able to purchase an empty window assembly is probably about as high as Tesla offering the assembly with a metal insert in there already!

Still... I smell a business opportunity here for somebody! :)

I let my guy keep the good window for a while and he's going to make a "real" template (vs mine which was a little messier). I think he also talked about making the pieces out of carbon fiber. I was the guinea pig, but I think he plans to make them better in the future (it's always easier the 2nd time)
 

EVnut

DARΞLL
Mar 24, 2009
1,606
1,243
Davis, CA
Did he cut those by hand? If those were cut with a CNC waterjet, they'd be fabulous. And yeah, using the original glass to make the template is the way to go for sure. So... I assume I can just watch this space, and you'll let us know when he's mass producing these??
 

Clemmy

Member
Jan 31, 2019
6
25
Oakland
Did he cut those by hand? If those were cut with a CNC waterjet, they'd be fabulous. And yeah, using the original glass to make the template is the way to go for sure. So... I assume I can just watch this space, and you'll let us know when he's mass producing these??
Honestly, I have no idea how he cut them. . they actually look a little crude under the trim, but as I said, he was the only brave one to try, and as I can't see those edges, I didn't care. I will definitely write when he has something that he's making more in bulk.
 

lairdb

Member
Mar 26, 2018
340
305
California
Somebody like Optic Armor should make a pre-cut pre-painted (and pre-trimmed, if they can find the trim) polycarbonate replacement.

(See http://www.opticarmorwindows.com/drop-in-black-outs.asp for examples.)

One of you who need to replace might want to reach out to them.

Or, @Clemmy, you might see if your fabricator is interested in getting some of their flat sheet 3/16 and experimenting with it.
 

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