New York State’s Laws on Windshield Damage

Most people are aware that they can get a citation for driving with a damaged windshield, but most aren’t familiar with the parameters of the law and what makes a crack or break unacceptable.

Since the Commissioner’s Regulations focus on maintaining clear vision and not the structural integrity of the windshield, they are lenient on the size, but not so much on the location.  The regulation states that cracks longer than 11 inches or “star breaks” greater than 3 inches are not allowed IF any part of the crack is within the area cleared by the windshield wipers.  So technically, it is completely within the law to have your windshield cracked all the way from one side to the other across the bottom, as long as it is under the wipers.  Legal, but not necessarily safe.

But lenient size restrictions does not mean that you can have a ten inch crack directly in the driver’s line of vision.  A separate section of state law dictates that no vehicle may operate on the roadway with glass that is broken damaged or discolored so that the driver’s visibility is obstructed.  While this code is much more open to interpretation, it would certainly restrict damage that could be a distraction to the driver.

Even repairing damage that falls within the “acute area” ( the area directly in front of the driver) is frowned upon by state officials concerned with driver safety.   Since repair of even very small breaks can cause a perceptible imperfection in the glass which naturally draws the eye away from the road to focus on the blemish.

Think of the last road trip you took where an insect was smashed right in your line of vision.  How many moments were you focused on or aware of the blob of bug juice in front of you?  Each of those moments spent glancing at the bug carcass was a precious second in which you weren’t focused completely on navigating your surroundings – and sometimes a second is all it takes for an accident to happen.

Windshield damage can be just a distracting as a dead critter, if not more.  That’s why you should have a qualified professional help you decide on the best course of action in dealing with your windshield damage.

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Can This Windshield Crack Be Repaired?

When it comes to cracks in a windshield the answer can be a bit trickier than when dealing with just a chip.   There are many widely differing opinions on the limits of windshield crack can be repair, but remember that safety should be the number one concern when considering the answers for yourself.  Anyone who has cut glass knows that the most common method for doing so is to etch the glass and then apply pressure – but how big of a crack would be safe in your windshield when under pressure?

While we generally would give the same size related answer – that if you can cover it with a quarter it can be repaired.   But even determining the size of a crack can be difficult, since we often find that the crack is much longer than it appears to the untrained eye. Continue reading

Can This Windshield Chip Be Repaired?

This is certainly the first question that most customers ask when they come into or call our shop.  Nobody wants to pay for a replacement if repair is an option, and frankly, we would be much happier to repair it for you than to throw another piece of glass in a dumpster.  There are several different types of damage that fall into the “repairable” category, some more complicated to repair than others.

The first and most common type of damage is the Bulls-eye.  This name accurately describes the appearance of this round, straight single impact type of damage.  And while this often looks like the worst type of chip, since a larger piece of glass has been removed, it is actually the easiest to repair.  But with a cone shaped bulls eye chip it is especially important to seek  a professional repair immediately since they are prone to collect water and dirt that permanently discolor the laminate layer inside the glass.

Another type similar in type to the bulls-eye in what we call the Angel Wings or sometimes a Half Moon, but is essentially a partial bulls eye.   While a bit more complicated to repair than a a traditional straight impact bulls eye, this type is still very repairable.  And once again, promptness is key in getting a good repair without an evident blemish in the glass.

Another type of damage that we see everyday on windshields is the Star Break, which are often, but not necessarily shaped like a star.  any small bunch of cracks centered on a single impact point would be considered a star break.  Since the cracks of a star break are at risk of growing beyond the point of repair, you can save yourself a few hundred dollars by contacting a reputable repair shop ASAP.

The most complicated type of damage to repair is a Combination Break, which has features of each of the types of damage we discussed above.  But if the damage is small (no larger than a quarter) and you contact us as soon as possible after the incident, it can generally be repaired without any visible evidence of damage.  While some insurance companies are more likely to set the size limit for repairs at 6 inches, we don’t recommend this.   Since the most important function of the windshield is keeping the driver and passengers safe, we don’t like to repair a windshield that has been compromised in it’s structural integrity.

The bottom line is – contact a professional auto glass repair shop to survey the damage as soon as possible.  The sooner you seek a repair, the less likely it is that you will need a replacement.

Windshield Chip and Scratch Repair is Serious Business

Windshield repair can be an incredible improvement to the aesthetics and structural integrity of your automobile.   When you incur a chip, crack or scratch out on the road it is reassuring to have the option of repair  instead of replacement, which can be a money saver and a “green” alternative.   These are the factors that motivate Ray Sands Glass to provide FREE windshield repair to customers in our Rochester community.

But not all windshield damage can be repaired, and we want customers to understand our intentions when we have to tell them that their glass must be replaced.    We can’t repeat this enough: the windshield is essential to your automobile’s frame strength. Those pieces of laminated glass are what keep your body inside in the event of a collision and prevent the roof from collapsing in the event of a rollover.  It makes us shudder to hear companies claim they can repair a crack up to a foot in length,  this is considered an unsafe practice by most auto makers and Ray Sands Glass agrees.

There isn’t a responsible insurance company or body shop out there that would tell it’s safe to repair a foot long crack in the auto body’s frame.  So why should the windshield be any different?  The truth is it shouldn’t.  The point of windshield repair is to fix the damage before it get large enough to jeopardize the roof support structure.  When an dubious repairman slathers some compound on a large crack, it has the general effectiveness of a piece of scotch tape – it looks better but doesn’t hold up under pressure, when you need it most.

So please reconsider if you are thinking about trying to save a few dollars by avoiding replacement with a treacherous repair.  It could be your life (or your passengers’) on the line!

All Revved Up For Auto Glass Week 2011

While the nearing of 2011’s auto glass week might not titillate the everyday consumer, this is one of the highlights of the year for those in the auto glass industry.  To us, it’s a great learning experience and a chance to find out about new ideas and catch up with old friends.

Getting together with other independent glass shops from around the country at Glass Week has often been inspirational to our business.  The ideas seem to flow freely amongst the like minded crowd, to the benefit of all who attend.  We often hear about new products and services that could benefit our customers or business practices that have been successful (or not so successful) in other auto glass companies.

Aside from the wealth of knowledge and experience of those who share our profession, we are also looking forward to finding out more about recent changes in the auto insurance industry.  With two major insurance companies having made adjustments to their polices related to the auto glass repair and replacment, we look forward to finding out more about how it will affect our customers.

The Independent Glass Association (IGA) will also be introducing their new software program, which our co-owner and IGA Board Member, Dave Burns is particularly excited about.  The new software could make the entire claims and repair process go more smoothly for everyone – even small to medium sized independent glass shops.

And while the Olympic competitions will be exciting to see, Ray Sands Glass generally doesn’t take part.  We wouldn’t want to send our best manpower out of town for the competition and jeopardize the efficiency of taking care of our customers back home.

But as Dave Burns said “We don’t need a competition to tells us that we have one of the most qualified and proficient auto glass teams in the country”

What Else Would You Like to Find at Ray Sands?

Over the years, we have expanded our services from our roots in windshield replacement and chip repair to include many other auto and residential services that we thought could benefit our community.   With the introduction of more services we can now remove those dents and dings from your car’s body as well, or apply a protective film to your newly installed windshield and top of the line window tint for side and rear windows.  We can even restore your car’s headlights to a shiny, bright, like-new condition – and don’t forget the windshield wipers!

One of the more recent additions to our residential roster, our residential window repair, has saved our customers tens of thousands by repairing fogged windows that would have otherwise needed replaced.  And our visually clear residential tint can help protect from harmful UV rays and improve your home’s energy efficiency, while still complying with strict HOA policies.  We also provide any type of custom cut glass you may need, from patterned glass shower doors to tempered safety glass for sliding glass doors.

But we can’t take credit for all of these ideas, many of them came from our community!  Whether it be our Rochester locals, our online readers, or our friends in the auto glass business – sharing ideas helps businesses work better with their community.  Idea sharing  is why we do this blog, and now we would like to hear from you…

Today we want to find out if there is anything else we can do for you.  Are there any services that you think are lacking in the Rochester area, that we may be able to provide?  A certain brand or type of auto product that you would like to buy locally?  A service you heard about elsewhere, that isn’t available here?  Let us know what you want in the comments below – all ideas will be considered!

Ray Sands Glass Wants to Know What You Think!

We certainly understand that when customers call our shop about a broken windshield, that is it often the result of an unfortunate encounter with a rock on the highway, which they are probably less than happy about.  We also understand that after making their car payment and filling up the gas tank (ugh) people are generally less than happy about having to pay for repairs to their car, which, for so many people these days, can strain the family budget.

With this in mind, we really want to know is – What we can do to make it easier on you?  Aside from giving some of our services away for free (we already do that), how can having your windshield replaced be a little bit better?

Since the best way to find out how people feel about your business is to ask them, that’s what we want to do today.  We want to hear about the customer experience in dealing with not only Ray Sands Glass, but other glass shops across the country or even other types of auto service businesses.   What could the auto glass team have done differently to make things just a little easier?  And no holds barred on this one!   From the greeting at the front desk and the magazine selection, to the quality of workmanship and the communication with the technician – we want to know the good and bad stories about your in experiences in our shop and others.

You can share your stories here or on our facebook page.  We’re looking forward to hearing from you!