Penny Wise - Pound Foolish Auto Glass Decisions
Everybody loves a bargain but, being "penny wise" is "pound foolish" when selecting an auto glass service provider. Like anything else, you get what you pay for and 'cheap' is not what you want when replacing auto glass. Quality and professional competency should be the top priorities for every person in need of auto glass service.
The fact is that most automotive safety experts rank the windshield as the third most important safety component in today's cars and trucks. Seatbelts and airbags rank first and second. All three components are part of what automotive engineers refer to as a vehicle's safety restraint system (SRS).
The SRS is intended to keep vehicle occupants within the relative safety of the passenger compartment during a collision or roll over. SRS components work together. The windshield provides virtually all the support a passenger side airbag needs to deploy properly. If the windshield falls out in a collision, that particular air bag is all but useless. Similarly, the windshield provides much of the roof support for most cars, especially mini-vans. If the windshield is displaced, much of that structural support is lost along with most of the crush resistance designed into the vehicle.
Laws exist that require seatbelt use. Laws exist to prohibit tampering with or disabling airbags. However, there are no laws that govern how a windshield is replaced once the vehicle leaves the factory. An improperly replaced windshield could ? and sometimes does ? become detached from the vehicle during airbag deployment; from the force of a collision; or, when the car rolls or flips over. With the windshield displaced, the effectiveness of SRS is seriously compromised.
There are thousands of responsible auto glass companies in the U.S. that perform high-quality, safe windshield replacement. There are also some that do not. If you know what questions to ask in selecting a glass shop and what to look for during the installation, you greatly improve the odds of avoiding the unprofessional practitioner.
The National Glass Association recommends that consumers ask prospective auto glass service providers if they:
- Have NGA certified technicians;
- Endorse the Auto Glass Replacement Safety Standard (AGRSS);
- Use the manufacturers recommended urethane adhesive;
- Review the "do's and don'ts" of post-installation usage with customers. During the installation, watch to see if the technician:
- Checks for a passenger side airbag and, if present, uses urethane rated for that type of installation;
- Removes the old sealant leaving approximately 1/16" bonding surface;
- Wears gloves to avoid contaminating the bonding surfaces;
- Cleans and primes both the glass and the area on the vehicle (known as the pinchweld) where the glass is to be set.
It is also recommended that the vehicle owner ask to see the manufacturers' expiration date on all preps, primers and adhesives to be used during the windshield replacement. If any of these materials are passed the expiration date, do not allow the installation to begin until acceptable materials are located. If the installation is already in process, it must be stopped and started again from scratch after all bonding surfaces have been thoroughly cleaned.
After the installation is complete, inspect the work carefully. You do not need to be an auto glass expert to identify the "tell-tale" signs of improper installation. From outside the vehicle, check to see if:
- The windshield is perfectly centered on the car. The distance between the left side and the right side of the windshield and the auto body should be the same.
- Inspect the molding to be sure it fits around the circumference of the windshield and there are no visible gaps.
- The molding should be flat and not look like a roller coaster.
- Most importantly, the glass should be flush to the vehicle's body.
When shopping for auto glass repair and / or replacement services, people need to be quality conscious to a fault. To be done properly, windshield replacement requires the use of the best materials technology can provide and the skills of highly trained, experienced and, above all, detail conscious technicians.
For more information on auto glass safety, you may call 1-800-CAR-HELP toll-free and select the "Damaged Auto Glass" menu option, or, visit www.glass.org/consumer/overview.htm and www.agrss.com.