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How Windshields Suffer Damage

Jan 8, 2008
There is probably a segment of the population who believe that some windshield cracks are totally without reason. These folks don't believe they may have been the target of a flying stone or pebble, kicked up by another car or the winds of Texas. They think that the glass is simply sub-par, installed incorrectly or susceptible to weather conditions.

But although windshield glass may have irregularities and improper installation-both very dangerous for occupants-the primary cause of windshield cracks and holes are the result of contact with hard objects. As cars move, small objects-pebbles, stones, rock particles, debris, etc.-get caught in their tire treads (with some frequency in the areas of Houston).

While the tires continue to spin, the objects dislodge and are sent spinning off into the path of an unfortunate driver. For the most part, they are so minute that the driver does not notice anything amiss; occasionally a small sound or noticeable hole or imperfection suddenly appears.

This may also occur while the car is parked. It could be the result of an object unknown by a car's flying debris, or damage could be the result of another object landing on the windshield, with or without purpose.

However, the chance of vandalism is actually quite small; in all likelihood, the offender would be hurled by the weather, dropped from a tree, or as a result of a freak accident. In any event, the impact often occurs near the edge of the glass, in a space within 3 inches of the windshield edges. This area is often referred to as "The Crack Zone".

A small pebble or stone that may hit the middle of your vehicle's windshield without incident will cause a crack if it lands in this band. (Should it land in the middle of your windshield, there probably would be no indentation or crack; if you find such damage, it is more than likely from a sizeable hard object.)

Many Texans have found that their damage seems to be in the black part of their windshields called the "frit". This is the paint that is used for protection from ultra violet rays on the urethane, the super-adhesive used to bond the windshield glass to your auto's body. However, it doesn't really matter where damage occurs; any noticeable imperfection should be checked out by a reputable professional as soon as possible.

There is a possibility that a past windshield replacement was either done incorrectly, or glass was used that should not have been. In these cases, perhaps the urethane did not thoroughly bond the glass to the frame, creating uneven pressure, or there are weak spots from shoddy handling, preparation, or placement.

Unfortunately, the car owner/driver is usually unaware of these situations. There is also a possibility that one may be driving a car too soon after having its windshield replaced, and the adhesives have not yet bonded, and again, the driver may not realize it. (If the urethane has passed federal safety regulations, and safe drive away times are met, this should not occur.)

The reason that driving earlier than instructed is not just due to the possibility of the windshield becoming loose; it could even pop out if deployed air bags press against it. At the time of an accident, the airbag on the passenger side is pushed against the windshield before billowing out to protect the passenger. Should the windshield wiggle or fall out, the airbag is not stopped by any barrier, and the passenger will continue to be thrust forward, probably suffering major injuries.

Windshield damage as the result of vandalism is quite another issue. In that case, police reports should be filed immediately. (If the car has been accidentally struck by an object such as a baseball, however, public facilities will probably not accept responsibility.) In the case of a collision with another auto, necessary reports and towing processes will already be in place.

Regardless as to how your auto glass has incurred damage, know that claims with your auto insurance provider will usually be processed without any problem. Most reliable professional repair shops will handle the billing and accept negotiated insurance rate in lieu of a higher cash rate.

Should only your windshield need replaced, the installation will take slightly less than an hour. Business owners should take pride in their reputation. Most offer quality materials and labor and will offer free replacement and re-installation if your glass is found to have any imperfections!
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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