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Car Maintenance

Windshields: We Don't Get any Respect!

(ARA) - You may think it strange to have me, your windshield, offer safety advice, but I take my job seriously. Yes, I know, you look through me as if I'm not even there, but that's precisely my point. To you, I'm just another beautifully clear, awesomely aerodynamic instrument to keep the rain off your face and the bugs out of your teeth. But really, I'm much more important than that.

I really get concerned when I see your attention distracted by talking on your cell phone. I get downright frightened when you chat with your front seat passenger or, even worse, turn to talk to someone behind you. I'm doing my best to give you a clear view of the road ahead but you have to help me help you.

While on the subject of your safety, how can I get you to buckle up that seatbelt? My buddies at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration calculate 11,889 lives were saved by seat belts last year alone. In the last five years, the figure is more than 55,000.

What about the kids? Are you really in such a hurry that putting the baby in her back seat, rear-facing car seat is too much trouble? There were 529 fatalities among kids under 5 years of age last year and nearly half were totally unrestrained. Child safety seats could reduce that number by 71 percent for infants and 54 percent for toddlers like yours.

Let's not forget Johnny. He may be 10 years old, but he has no business riding in the front passenger seat. He is safest in the back seat wearing his safety belt.

Why am I so interested? Well, it has to do with one of my main jobs, which is to keep you and your passengers inside the engineered safety of the passenger compartment. My air bag and seatbelt friends help me in this mission. We are your first line of defense against a phenomenon called "occupant ejection," which means that you end up outside your vehicle during a crash or rollover. Once ejected from the vehicle, you can be run over or crushed. It's a serious matter.

One way to avoid occupant ejection is, of course, to wear your seatbelt. The other ways may not be as obvious. America now has more than 106 million air bag-equipped vehicles; 81 million of these have dual air bags to protect both driver and passenger.

Last year air bags saved 1,584 lives. That record could have been even better except for one fact that too many people overlook. Air bags, especially passenger side air bags, must deploy against something solid to work properly. That solid object is me: your windshield.

I support the air bag so it cushions the impact of the crash. If I am not installed properly, the force of the air bag's deployment can dislodge me. That's really bad! With me gone and the air bag right behind me, your seat belt is all there is to prevent you from following both of us.

This is one of the reasons informed consumers choose to repair rather than replace me when I get damaged. As part of your car's original equipment, I was installed under near ideal factory conditions. That makes me special. I have the factory's safety seal to ensure I stay in place.

If you call a reputable windshield repair specialist, like NOVUS Windshield Repair, they can repair me 70 percent of the time without destroying my factory safety seal.

You may think I'm being selfish telling you replacement windshields are expensive, but they are. Why spend an average of six times more to replace me when I can be repaired? It doesn't make any sense, and I sure don't want to end up in some over-crowded landfill before my time.

If you don't take my advice about windshield repair, at least be sure you understand what you must demand, for your own safety, when you replace me.

If I am replaced, be sure the installer:

* Removes the old sealant completely;

* Cleans and primes the glass and the vehicle pinchweld;

* Wears gloves so the clean glass is not contaminated;

* Uses urethane adhesive (not butyl tape or silicone);

* Checks for a passenger side air bag and, if present, uses urethane rated for that type of installation;

* Discusses how long you must wait before the vehicle can be driven;

* Reviews the "do's and don'ts" of operation during the curing.

If you have additional repair or replacement questions about me, you can always call NOVUS at (800) 77-NOVUS. You will automatically be connected to the local NOVUS service center, or, if there is no NOVUS in your area, to NOVUS' headquarters where someone will be happy to help you.
Courtesy of ARA Content

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