A Clear Look at Windshields

March 31, 2017

Tires

Here at Matthews Tire, when we decided to begin servicing windshields, we wanted to ensure we approached it correctly. We purchased state of the art equipment and took the time needed to get our technicians trained and certified. When you learn more about windshields, you’ll understand why we went the extra mile.

It’s logical to think that the most important function of your windshield is to protect you and your passengers from the wind, rain, other elements and debris. While that is part of a windshield’s function, it’s not the most important role a windshield plays. In reality, proper windshield maintenance, repair and replacement—following Auto Glass Replacement Safety Standard (AGRSS) procedures—is truly a life and death matter.

Bob Beranek, owner of Automotive Glass Consultants, a nationally recognized expert on windshield function and safety and author of The Complete Guide to Auto Glass Installation – A Textbook, explains, “The three most important aspects of vehicle safety are the brakes, steering and the auto glass.” However, according to Mr. Beranek this was not always the case. The first cars didn’t even have windshields. Drivers and passengers wore heavy slickers and goggles to protect them from wind, rain, rocks and debris. When windshields were finally installed in 1919, they were made from glass that easily shattered. So, in 1929, to deal with the shattering issue, laminated glass became standard. Then, for the next 44 years, not much changed.

Mr. Beranek adds, “When the oil embargo of 1973 caused the price of fuel to rise, car manufacturers looked for ways to make autos more fuel efficient. As a result, they got lighter and smaller, steel was removed and the frames got weaker. This put more importance on the windshield, and other stationery auto glass, to help support and strengthen the frame.” The introduction of side airbags put additional strain on windshields. When a side airbag deploys, the windshield keeps it contained within the car, which allows it to function properly and provide protection. Auto glass is the last safety device before injury occurs and proper installation ensures that it can function properly. “Windshields are so important that they are part of seven motor vehicle safety standards,” adds Mr. Beranek.

Unfortunately, many companies that offer windshield repair and replacement—including many auto dealerships—don’t obtain in-depth training, use the correct tools and supplies or follow recommended procedures. At the same time, without knowledge of the importance of windshields, many consumers shop for windshield services based on price alone. It’s a dangerous combination.

That’s why Matthews Tire takes windshield education so seriously. We learned that repairing a windshield is not usually advisable, and even when possible, requires precise timing. “Cracks can seldom be repaired. Sometimes we can repair chips—up to the size of a dime. However, the repair needs to wait a bit to allow for expansion and contraction, but not too long so that dirt gets into the chip, which can compromise the adhesives so they won’t hold,” said Jennifer Brockman of Matthews Tire.

When it comes to windshield safety, “What matters is training, proper tools, the materials and adhesives used and the glass,” says Mr. Beranek. “Looking good means nothing,” he adds.

When your windshield is in need of repair or, more likely replacement, make a smart decision about who you will trust for this important task. Make certain they are well trained and follow AGRSS procedures to ensure you and your passengers can look forward to a safer future!

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