Consumer Alert: Watch Out for Windshield Replacement Risks
By Mel Fabrikant Friday, May 08, 2009, 06:35 PM EDT
– A cracked windshield is not a cosmetic problem. It can be a safety problem that should be corrected as soon as possible. Consumers should know the questions to ask auto glass technicians to make sure the replacement is done right.
“Most car and truck owners don’t realize how important the windshield is to their safety,” said George Strauch of Glass Doctor of Ramsey. “They would have airbags fixed if they knew the airbags wouldn’t work 100 percent in a wreck. If the windshield is cracked, then in some vehicles you should consider the airbags broken.”
If a vehicle with a cracked windshield is in a wreck, the passenger airbag may fail to deploy properly because the windshield is not strong enough to withstand the airbag’s force. “The real tragedy is even if the owner gets a cracked windshield replaced, a bad installation of the replacement windshield may leave the vehicle more unsafe than with the original cracked windshield,” Strauch said. “The glass and adhesive should meet industry standards and the installer should follow the industry’s best practices.”
When considering a windshield replacement, ask the auto glass technician some basic questions before the installation:
*Will the old adhesive be removed from the vehicle frame? If the old adhesive is not removed down to the adhesive manufacturers recommended level, the fit may not be tight and the new adhesive will not bond correctly between the windshield and the frame. The adhesive bond must meet 500 pounds per square inch.
*Will the technician wear gloves to keep from contaminating the glass? If oil and dirt get on the edges the new adhesive (also called urethane) may not bond correctly.
*Will the urethane adhesive sealant stand up to the high deployment pressure of airbags? The best available manufacturer equivalent urethane adhesive should be used, not butyl tape. Ask for urethane adhesive made by Dow, Sika or the original equipment supplier of adhesives to the original car makers.
After the new windshield is installed, inspect it before driving the vehicle. An auto glass technician who follows industry best practices should provide the customer a service checklist with the safe drive-away time. Do not drive the vehicle before the curing time is completed. Here are the signs of a proper installation:
See if the windshield is centered on the vehicle. The glass should have a relatively smooth curve, not waves or bows. Some aftermarket windshields do not fit perfectly.
Make sure the glass is flush with the vehicle’s frame. If the glass is not flush with the frame, a salvage windshield or a defective windshield may have been installed. A salvage windshield is taken from another similar vehicle, but the adhesive may not bond properly. A defective windshield may not be manufactured to the exact dimensions to fit in the vehicle’s frame.
To ensure safety, Glass Doctor uses OE (original equivalent manufactured by a company that supplies the auto makers) quality glass windshields and guarantees its windshields for 12 full months against breakage and for a lifetime against leaks.
Glass Doctor voluntarily supports the glass replacement procedures approved by AGRSS, the Auto Glass Replacement Safety Standards Council. AGRSS is the only national auto glass replacement safety standard. More than 160 of the 370 Glass Doctor independently owned and operated locations nationwide are accredited by AGRSS, and more will be accredited throughout the coming months. Consumers can find AGRSS-approved locations at www.safewindshields.com.
About Glass Doctor®:
Glass Doctor is the largest chain of full-service glass franchises in the nation. From windows to windshields to storefronts, Glass Doctor can handle any glass need. Glass Doctor also offers custom glass services, such as tub and shower enclosures, entry door glass and mirrors. Established in 1962 with one shop in Seattle, Wash., today Glass Doctor offers complete glass repair, replacement and services to the residential, automotive, and commercial markets at more than 375 locations in the United States. There are more than 165 Glass Doctor franchise owners across the United States and Canada. For further information or to find the location nearest you, visit www.glassdoctor.com.