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Car Safety

How to Ensure Your Windshield is Installed

(ARA) - Experts rank the windshield as the third most important safety component in today’s car. Along with seatbelts and airbags, ranked first and second, all three components are part of what automobile engineers refer to as a vehicle’s safety restraint system (SRS).

The SRS is intended to keep vehicle occupants inside the relative safety of the passenger compartment during a collision or roll over. “SRS components work together,” says Leo Cyr, vice president of NOVUS Auto Glass. “For example, the windshield provides virtually all the support a passenger side airbag needs to deploy properly. If the windshield falls out, the air bag is all but useless. Similarly, the windshield provides a minimum of 60 percent of the roof support for most cars. If the windshield is displaced, that support is gone, along with most of the crush resistance designed into the vehicle.”

Everybody loves a bargain. But “cheap” is not a criterion that should enter into an informed consumer’s selection of an auto glass repair or replacement company.

“After many years and millions of dollars in advertising,” says Cyr, “most people now understand seatbelts save lives. Whether they ‘buckle up’ or not, people do understand seatbelts equal safety. If you mention the windshield, you get blank stares.

“Laws exist that require seatbelt use. Laws exist to prohibit tampering with or disabling airbags. However, there are no laws that govern how a windshield is replaced once the vehicle leaves the factory. An improperly replaced windshield could -- and sometimes does -- become detached from the vehicle during airbag deployment, from the force of a collision, or when the car rolls or flips over. With the windshield disabled, the effectiveness of the SRS is seriously compromised.

“The tragedy of the situation,” explains Cyr, “is the average person will not realize their windshield was improperly replaced until it is too late. There are literally thousands of responsible auto glass companies in the United States that perform high-quality, safe windshield replacement. However, the way to locate and select such a company comes from knowing what questions to ask before making a commitment.”

According to Jay Bickford, NOVUS director of training, it is always wise to check with a reputable windshield repair specialist, like NOVUS, before replacing your windshield. If your windshield can be repaired, that option should be seriously considered since repair is accomplished without destroying the factory safety seal between the glass and the car’s chassis.

If the windshield cannot be repaired, Bickford offers the following before, during, and after installation tips:

Before Replacement. Does your insurance company or auto glass shop offer to inspect the damage to see if it is repairable? NOVUS, for example, is able to repair most stone chips or dings that are small enough to be covered by a credit card or cracks that will fit under a dollar bill.

During installation does the technician:

* Remove the old sealant leaving approximately 1/16 inch bonding surface.

* Clean and prime the glass and the vehicle pinchweld.

* Wear gloves so as not to contaminate the clean glass.

* Use urethane adhesive (not butyl tape or silicone).

* Check for a passenger side airbag and, if present, use urethane rated for that type of installation.

* Discuss how long before the vehicle can be driven.

* Tell you the “do’s and don’ts” of operation during adhesive curing.

Afterwards, inspect the work carefully. You do not need to be an auto glass expert to identify the “tell tale” signs of improper installation. From outside the vehicle, see if the windshield is perfectly centered on the car. Is the distance the same between the left side and the right side of the windshield and the auto body?

Finally, inspect the molding that fits around the entire circumference of the windshield. Is the molding broken or are there visible gaps? Is the molding flat or does it look like a roller coaster? Most importantly, is the glass flush with the vehicle’s body? If any of these conditions are present, the installation should be considered suspect.

Cyr concludes by saying, “When shopping for auto glass repair and/or replacement services, people need to be quality conscious to a fault. Discounts, coupons and sales incentives are fine when shopping for ‘brand’ name products at competing retailers. Auto glass repair/replacement is not a product. It is a service -- a safety service -- requiring the use of the best materials technology can provide and the skills of highly trained, experienced and, above all, detail- conscious technicians. At Novus, for example, our windshield installation methodology is known as ‘Family Safe’. That means we would feel safe letting our children ride in your car. If not, the job’s not good enough for you and your family.”

For more information, call (800) 77-NOVUS. Your call will automatically be connected to the local Novus, or, if there isn’t one in your area, to Novus’ headquarters in Minneapolis.

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