The New Age of Windshield Science

Auto makers are always trying to think of ways to make driving safer, easier  and more efficient.  Now technology is playing a big role in the new advances in windshields.  What used to be a piece of glass that supported the roof and kept bugs off our faces, is now the focal point of technological driver safety – literally.

Since ideally, a safe driver would keep eyes focused outside through the windshield or mirrors and hands on the steering wheel, automakers are now designing features to make this more practical.  Instead of making more extravagant (and confusing) center console features, we are starting to see more controls directly on the steering wheel.   And while more common in aircraft, some automobiles also have what is called a “heads up display”, that displays data and control settings via projection onto the inside of the windshield.

Now auto makers are experimenting with windshields that combine different  types of light and temperature sensors to give drivers what can be equated to night vision.   The new windshield technology enhances objects near the road such as mailboxes, telephone poles, people and animals by outlining them in a lighted silhouette.

One new model being tested by GM traces over the side of the road using a lighted line to help drivers anticipate curves and intersections in less than ideal conditions.  Some auto models are now available with small screens that show an enhanced view of the outside world, but new prototypes would project onto the entire windshield, enhancing the what the driver is looking at.  That includes detecting and highlighting speed limit signs for the speeding driver.

And since the current market is tightly focused on gas mileage, auto companies are looking at different ways to enhance this factor by making cars and trucks more aerodynamic.  One thing that can cause a surprisingly significant amount of wind drag is the windshield wipers, which is why auto manufacturers are looking to do away with them all together.

PPG has developed a product for manufacturers that repels water and bonds to the glass like Aquapel, but instead of six months, would last up to seven to eight years.  This would work in conjunction with a small, high speed blower to blow an airstream up along the windshield that would help remove water drops at speeds less than 40.  The airstream from the blower would also create a slipstream – instead of hitting the windshield abruptly, air would be slightly “cushioned” by the air moving upwards along the windshield – making the car more aerodynamic.

While these ideas may be a few years from being put into practical, everyday use, the reality is that every part of the auto is changing – even the windshield.


Consumer Rights in Auto Repair

The State of New York released a brochure to inform consumers of their rights under the “Repair Shop Act”, which is designed to help protect consumers from negligent or dishonest auto repair shops.  The best protection is to choose a qualified, reputable shop – but no matter which shop you choose, you still have certain rights as an auto repair customer:

   The Right to a Written Estimate

  Upon request, the repair shop must provide a written estimate, including parts and labor.  The shop may charge for the time it takes to make an estimate – but not more than the normal hourly rate.  The estimate must include each part, it’s cost, whether it is an aftermarket part, and the rate by which labor is calculated.  The shop may not charge more than the written estimate without permission.

   The Right to Authorize  All Work on Your Automobile

  The auto repair shop cannot perform any repairs without your consent.  If the repair shop prepares a work order, they must give you a copy – if you prepare a written work order, the shop must attach it to their invoice.  And if the shop gets work authorized over the phone, the invoice must include name of the person authorizing the work and the date and time of the call.

The Right to the Return of Replaced Parts

The car owner has the right to all replaced parts unless they are warranty or exchange parts, as long as you ask for them in writing before the shop begins work on your car.  However if work is authorized by phone the shop must save the parts so they are available upon pick up of the vehicle.

The Right to Inspect your Vehicle

  Auto repair customers have the right to inspect their vehicle before paying for repairs.  Customers do NOT, however,  have the right to remove the vehicle from the shop before paying, or enter “employees only” areas to inspect the vehicle.

The Right to a Detailed Invoice

After completing repair the shop must provide the customer with a detailed invoice that includes all repairs, replacement parts and labor costs.  The invoice must also include the odometer reading at the time the car was dropped off, as well as the reading at the time of the invoice.  If you got a written estimate from the shop compare it to the invoice and speak to management about any discrepancies before paying the bill.

Obligation of the Repair Shop Regarding Guarantees

   Auto repair shops are not required to guarantee their work, but if the shop chooses to do so, the terms and conditions of the guarantee must be printed on the receipt.

  These right are designed to protect you from negligence and dishonesty,  but they don’t solve every possible dispute.  If there  are any problems with the quality or price of the repair, they can usually be solved with calm, truthful discussion between management and the customer.  Shop owners never want a customer to leave unhappy, but negotiations are always best when everyone keeps their composure.