Unsafe Windscreen Methods Exposed
When we make a windscreen purchase we don’t think too much about the safety aspects of such a job. Since a windscreen replacement is an expense that is unexpected and not budgeted for, we tend to lean towards the cheapest price when we shop around.
Whilst price is always something to consider when making a purchase, it’s often not a good indicator of quality. The most expensive price will not necessarily assure you of the best quality goods/services. In fact today we often pay too much simply because we have been sold a brand or logo that may give us status. That said, obtaining the absolute lowest price can often lead to cheap inferior products.
So how can you be assured if your windscreen replacement is a quality job that has been installed like it was in the factory. The current method is for customers to verbally ask the repairer if they use quality products/methods. As you can see, this as absurd as it sounds. Do we really believe a repairer would openly confess to using substandard materials/methods if we simply asked.
So why should we care about this anyway, all windscreens are the same right? Well, not anymore, the windscreen in the modern day vehicle is a safety device. It supports the passenger side airbag system and in the event of a roll over, it provides over 30% of the vehicles structural strength. It’s critical that your windscreen is installed to a factory standard.
Today many budget minded windscreen companies cut corners to save time and increase productivity. In addition inferior untested adhesives are often used to save companies money. Don’t believe for a moment you are safer with brand name repairers either. The fundamental principle of a corporation is growth. This can often lead to cutting cost and increasing productivity to increase margins.
I speak from experience here. Service 8® Auto Glass have been involved in two Channel Nine hidden camera investigations. In these investigations eight random windscreen repairers were contacted for service. Of the eight, only one of the windscreen technicians installed the windscreen to basic recommended standards. So it’s accurate to say we are not making a big deal out of a few isolated incidents.
To combat this problem and to alert unsuspecting motorists, we have written this article along with a few images to allow you to make an informed decision when selecting a windscreen repairer. There are other important factors to consider as well, such as the quality of the adhesive used, the use of body primers and windscreen removal methods. However, to keep it simple we have decided to focus on a largest problem and you can simply observing your windscreen technician at work.
Quick Fitting Windscreens (Shortcutting)
The Cowl Panel is a trim/cover that sits on top of the windscreen. It usually has the windscreen wipers coming though it. Quick fitting consists of the technician not removing the Cowl Panel to save time.
The shortcut is to hold/tape the panel outward to create some room to slide the new windscreen down into place. Using this shortcut method the adhesive seal cannot be applied correctly and the bonding of the windscreen cannot be assured.
This often results in the windscreen adhesive being smeared/thinned out. This can cause leaks, wind noise, cracking of the glass from the bottom edge, incorrect windscreen hight (gaps between the cowl panel and glass). But most importantly passenger air bag failure. It’s a major safety issue.
In a collision the passenger air bag deploys at tremendous velocity, so a securely installed windscreen is critical. Quick fitting does not allow the windscreen to be placed on the adhesive wholly and correctly. This in turn could result in the windscreen being ejected.
Quick fitting is by far the most common and unsafe practise used by windscreens technicians in Australia. The reason for the shortcut is to simply save the technician a little time. It has no positive outcomes for the customer/vehicle and in almost all instances it compromises the vehicles passenger side air bag system.
In a collision a windscreen installed in this manner could be ejected or dislodged causing the air bag to deploy incorrectly. The passenger air bag uses the windscreen to rebound off into the correct position, if not deployed in the correct position this could lead to fatal consequences.
The main problem is that many technicians using this short cut are wilfully ignorant to the dangers and openly admit to using these techniques, seeing no problem. They often believe it it a style, technique or skill they have adopted, a faster is better attitude.
If you observe a technician installing your windscreen like in the image on the right, (without removing the cowl). Then insist on it being removed and reinstalled. Australians tend to be a relaxed bunch and often use terms such as “she’ll be right”. She may or may not be right, it all depends if you want your safety to be compromised, that’s for you to decide.
Service 8® Auto Glass is available for free advice regarding safe auto glass replacement. We have service locations on The Gold Coast, Tweed Coast and Townsville.