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Windshield Replacement 101

Dec 28, 2007
Unfortunately, automobile windshields are susceptible to harm even when no one is inside or operating the vehicle. What is more surprising is when they incur damage without being touched by another vehicle! It's especially true in Houston, where there are many stones, pebbles and debris flying around, leaving many Texas car owners wondering if windshields are too fragile for their conditions!

Well, rest assured that your car's windshield is stronger than it appears. In fact, it is actually considered a safety feature, since it is structurally designed to absorb the impact of more than half of the car roof's strength in a roll-over accident. It also withholds airbag pressure in head-on collisions. (At an airbag deploy speed of approximately 200 miles per hour, the importance and strength of windshield glass can't be underestimated!)

In all likelihood, your existing windshield has passed the industry standards for design and strength. If it is the original auto glass, the installation is also probably acceptable as well. But what if your car has required windshield replacement since rolling off the assembly line?

There is much written about improperly installed window shields possessing the potential for injury to car occupants, but chances are good that you're safe. There are several requirements the professionals must adhere to when replacing or repairing windshields, and most reliable business owners have no intention of receiving bad publicity or lawsuits.

However, your vehicle may suffer a hole, crack or shattering of its glass. Regardless whether it's due to a preventable or non-preventable accident, you should take it in for repair as soon as possible, as this kind of damage could weaken the glass-especially if in the windshield-and is very hazardous should an accident occur. If and when you have such a situation, there are aspects to keep in mind while looking for windshield repair and replacement.

First, check into materials and their use. Try to obtain a name-brand glass (generic ones may cause leaking) and 2-part urethane-the black, glue-like material holding the glass to the car body. (Under no circumstances allow this process to be done with "butel"; it never hardens completely.) If the actual moldings need replaced, they are an additional price, but a necessity if yours are old or broken. The bottom material (cowling) should be removed as well, so that there will be proper adhesion at the base of the windshield.

Next, make sure that technicians sand and prime, so that the urethane adheres directly to metal, instead of old rust. Ideally, they should wear new gloves or use suction cup handles to avoid getting hand oil on the glass (it could prevent proper adhesion). The windshield should not be placed on any unstable surface; a rack or saddle should be used.

The technician (along with you, if desired) should thoroughly inspect the auto glass while it is thus positioned. Chips, nicks or chunks may have broken from the edges during shipping, and are not acceptable.

If used, the pressure from the urethane bond will not be completely even and irregular weak spots will be created in the windshield, resulting in susceptibility to future damage. When finished with the installation, the technician should remove and vacuum all bits of glass, and replace the rearview mirror. If wiper blades are old, they too should be replaced as they could damage a new windshield.

Keep in mind that auto glass replacement should take between 45-60 minutes. (Two installers should be on the job for a larger, taller van-type vehicle.) You should receive clear instructions as to when it will be safe to drive the vehicle. Generally, the urethane will harden and adhere quickly in Houston's warm weather, but cars equipped with passenger side airbags will take longer.

It is possible to drive the vehicle in one hour if the proper urethane was used. In addition, you should receive a warranty on both the glass and labor. Any glass defects not noticed previously should allow you a free re-installation, and if a shop does not offer this, find another who does.

Finally, remember that windshield repairs or auto glass replacement due to chipped or broken glass should be able to be claimed through your insurance provider of comprehensive auto claims.

Professional Houston windshield replacement providers will bill your insurance-after receiving your deductible. However, some may request that you contact your provider yourself, since their bottom line rates negotiated with carriers may be lower than what are charged for cash transactions.
About the Author
David Warren is owner of Apple Glass Company, a glass repair and replacement firm that serves the Houston, Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas markets. Contact David Warren at 281-440-1292 or visit http://www.appleglasscompany.com to schedule a service appointment.
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