The Arizona Windshield Replacement Survival Guide – A Consumer Auto Glass Education
Replacing Your Vehicle’s Windshield? Here is Your Windshield Replacement Survival Guide:
- Safety First
A vehicles windshield provides the occupants a barrier from road debris and the outside elements. But most people don’t know a windshield is designed for structural safety in case of an accident, especially a rollover. A windshield is a vehicles third most important safety feature behind the seat belts, and air bags.
Windshields are like basketball backboards for air bags. So if you have a damaged windshield your air bag may not function correctly. It actually may inflate out the windshield cavity, rather than towards you. Or it won’t adsorb any pressure because your windshield simply pushes out.
Most consumers are not aware that when technicians replace your windshield, there is significant scratching to the “pinchweld” where the glass bonds to the car. These scratches must be prepped using paint and rust prevention steps. They should not simply leave exposed scratches where moisture from the exterior side can cause rust to develop.
2. Here are some questions you should ask your auto glass company:
- Is the new glass OEM?
- Did they remove the brand label on the windshield?
- Does the new glass have a shade band that matches your old glass?
- Is the new windshield the same color glass? (glass is actually colored, not clear)
- Does your windshield have a rain sensor?
- Is your windshield heated? (companies will install non-heated and charge for heated)
- Does the windshield have the right bracket for your rear view mirror?
- Does the new windshield have the same third visor as your old glass? (the painted black design which you can see around the rear view mirror on most cars)
- Are they using a universal trim molding, or the actual trim molding part for your vehicle?
- Does the company pay to fix paint scratches, if made by the auto glass technician?
Always inspect a piece of glass for scratches and distortion before it’s installed.
3. Types of Automotive Glass
A windshield is actually two layers of glass with a laminate material between the layers, what is called “laminated glass”. Laminated glass is extremely hard to puncture or break apart. That’s why a large object like a stunt man, can impact the windshield without breaking through. The strength of laminated glass combined with proper adhesion of the windshield to the body of the car provides massive strength against the roof collapsing in a rollover.
All of the other windows in your vehicle are “tempered glass”, which means they break into tiny fragments to reduce injury to the occupants. (a small fraction of vehicles have laminated side and rear windows also)
4. Windshield Urethane
Today’s vehicles use urethane as the adhesive to bond the windshield to the vehicle, like a glue. Some urethane after complete hardening which can take 2-4 weeks, can hold 500 pounds per square inch of pressure. That’s one reason why you could never simply push your windshield out. Impossible! Some urethane allows you to drive away within one hour after installing the windshield, hardening just enough to withstand vehicle accidents. When your replacement has been completed, make sure to inspect the inside of your vehicle around the edge of the glass. Make sure no urethane has oozed out into view or onto your vehicles interior. This is more common then people realize and needs to be fixed immediately before the glue hardens!
You can always find out what you need by calling your local dealer and giving them your VIN Identification number from your vehicle. If your car is important to you and you want to maintain the investment, always call your local dealer and ask for advice about your specific vehicle.
5. Windshield Shade Bands and Windshield Color
All auto glass has a shaded color. No windshields are completely clear. Typical shading colors are blue, green, bronze, and grey. Be sure sure to get the same color. You will see that all pieces of glass in your vehicle are the same color, excluding privacy glass and tinting.
A windshield may have a shade band across the top near the roof of the vehicle. This area is preferential. You should decide if you like it or not. It does tend to hide the edge of the interiors headliner when looking at the vehicle from the exterior. Shade bands do come in different colors but not all windshields
Most windshields can be ordered without a shade band at all. But you may find the part is actually more expensive because less people order it. Having a shade band does provide some shading in between your sun visors but it does little to drastically shade the sun. Take note the shade band will be darker at night.
6. Exterior Trim and Moldings
Your vehicle may have exterior trim or moldings cover the edge of the glass and/or covering the edge the car body. If the trim molding is just rubber, make sure you know what the technician is using to replace it. Some companies are now requiring that technicians use only a universal type aftermarket molding, rather than one that is specifically designed for your car. There should also be an OEM molding part available which is exactly the same as your original molding. Do note that cost for OEM is always more.
You may see plastic and/or metal trim moldings covering the edge of your windshield on the exterior. Normally these have some type of plastic or metal clips that attach them to the glass or vehicles body. Make sure the company replaces any broken clips or parts from removal of these parts. If your vehicle is older than 3 years, these parts become very brittle and damage easy. You may be warned about parts that always break, in which the company may request you also purchase that part ahead of time. You may find a lot of companies simply glue those parts back into place, rather than replacing the broken parts.
7. Vehicle Windshield Logo and VIN Window
On vehicles like a Ford Mustang and Ford F150, you may have a logo in the third visor above the rear view mirror. These windshields can be ordered with out the logo and are cheaper that way. Make sure you ask about your options.
Most windshields have a small narrow window for viewing of the VIN identification number near the lower drivers side portion of the glass. Make sure this window is in the right location on the glass. When the job is completed, make sure that glue has not covered the VIN, the VIN number plate has not been cut off, or that it has not been badly damaged. Police or the DMV will give you a hard time if the number is not legible or is completely missing from that location.
Windshield Repair or Replacement, a Crucial Decision
No one likes to think about a chipped or damaged windshield. This is partly due to a misconception that any damage requires a windshield to be replaced and that insurance companies will refuse to cover the cost of the job. In actuality, windshield repair is often the solution to problems and not only is it reasonably priced, it is often covered in the comprehensive portion of auto insurance.
The biggest thing to remember when you're dealing with a damaged windshield is to get your insurance company involved as soon as possible. Informing them right away that you have some damage, as well as how the damage happened, will help get the ball rolling as far as an estimate and repair work. Many insurance companies require that you use a certain company for the replacement or that you gather estimates from a few local businesses. Understanding their requirements will smooth the way to a relatively easy process.
Chips and small cracks, up to the size of a dollar bill, are prime candidates for windshield repair. Repair jobs can be done quickly and most companies now offer mobile repair units which can come to address the problem without upsetting your schedule. The repair is done by injecting a special epoxy into the crack or chip. This epoxy is formulated to be both strong and clear so that once it dries and if buffed it is nearly impossible to see where the damage had once been. The structural integrity of your windshield is never compromised by a repair done professionally with quality products.
Windshield replacement jobs are much more complicated and this is why so many insurance and windshield companies encourage drivers to get problems repaired quickly. The entire process for a windshield replacement can actually take up to a week since the windshield usually needs to be ordered in before work can even begin. Once the new windshield has been delivered, the old windshield must be removed and all of the seals need to be clean and checked and, in some cases, entirely replaced. Once the new windshield is in place the adhesive used to mount it needs plenty of time to dry. Thus curing process can take several hours or even as long as a full day. Once the adhesive has dried the entire windshield needs to be inspected for safety and authorized by a safety professional before the customer can drive away.
There are those who say do it yourself windshield repair kits are just as good as a job done by a trained professional. In fact, these home remedies - which range from using crazy glue or nail polish to buying kits available online - are not covered by insurance and should the process go wrong or result in further damage, you will be responsible for the cost of the entire job. Additionally, these fixes do not ensure that your windshield will be as strong as it would be if treated professionally and this can place both the driver and any passengers at risk in case of accident or if the chip or crack spreads and weakens the windshield as a whole. Quick fixes may be tempting to try but it's a gamble that can end up costing you hundreds or even thousands of dollars in windshield replacement bills.
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