Your Windshield May Kill You: Uni-Body Vehicles

Auto glass replacement is high on the repair list in accidents. According to the I-CAR Reference Manual, uni-body vehicles are engineered to protect passengers during crashes, i.e. passenger safety is the key element in automobile design.

Note how the windshield remains in place, and the roof of the vehicle absorbs the kinetic energy.
Note how the windshield remains in place, and the roof of the vehicle absorbs the kinetic energy.

Vehicle manufacturers intentionally build autos in the following manner.

  1. Crush zones are built into the front and rear of the vehicle as a series of holes, dimples, or convolutions.
  2. Front and rear structural parts are designed to absorb collision energy by collapsing at pre-determined points called “crush zones.”
  3. Hoods are designed to buckle in order to avoid penetrating the windshield.
  4. The vehicle structure is designed to route impact forces and damage around the passenger compartment.
  5. In a front end collision, the windshield serves to transmit the kinetic energy upward, to be absorbed by the roof of the vehicle.

This is why vehicles appear to fold up like a soda can in a crash. Check out this video for more information.

The key issue to remember is Safety… Safety… Safety.

The windshield acts as a security and transmission device to move the dynamic force of an impact from the front of the vehicle, up through the windshield to the roof and to the back of the vehicle. If the windshield is NOT installed correctly, the safety of the passengers is compromised. The cab can actually collapse on a rollover, if there is inferior windshield repair.

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Convenience can be dangerous

Unfortunately for consumers, the replacement of a windshield is one of the most technical and least understood functions in the auto repair industry.

If your insurance company insists that you go to their drive-in glass repair facility to have your windshield replaced and drive away the same day, you need to understand what you are doing.

Urethanes, epoxy, silicone, plastic, rubber, metal, glue, etc. are all used to secure windshields to the structure of vehicles. In most cases, the adhesive manufacturers require that the vehicle NOT be moved or driven until the adhesive has cured, for 24 to 48 hours.

Adhesives must be used perfectly and have sufficient time to cure. Failure to cure before the vehicle is driven can cause shifting and the adhesive to malfunction. If the windshield has been installed poorly, serious injuries can occur.

Windshield replacements can only be performed in a specialized facility, by at least two professionals.
Windshield replacements can only be performed in a specialized facility, by at least two professionals.

Especially important is preparation of the metal frame. Proper removal of old adhesive and materials precedes windshield installation.  It is also absolutely necessary that rust inhibitors are applied and allowed to set, BEFORE the windshield itself is installed.

The question is:  Do you want a cheap, fast job and risk being injured or being killed in a front-end collision? If the answer is NO, then make it your business to take the repair company to task before you allow them to work on your vehicle.

To guarantee that you are getting value, quality, and safety, there are seven issues that you must bear in mind when your windshield is replaced. Your life may depend on it.

  1. Repair shop must provide a LIFETIME warranty for the vehicle that is transferable to a new owner.
  2. Two technicians must install windshield. One person cannot install any windshield correctly.
  3. The windshield must be installed according to the recommended procedure of I-CAR’s Manual, “Stationary Glass Replacement” and the adhesive manufacturer’s instructions.
  4. Vehicle must NOT be moved or driven until the full elapsed cure time has passed.
  5. Repair shop must use the exact parts and supplies that the manufacturer uses in making the vehicle (no substitutions allowed under any circumstances).
  6. Must give you the empty adhesive and windshield shipping containers used to install your brand name (OEM) windshield. Used or substitutions are not permitted.
  7. Must comply in all aspects with Federal Motor Vehicle Standards #205, 208, 212, 216, 219 auto glass methods.