Safety First in Winter Windshield Replacement

Windshield replacement, and the need for it, is a fact of life – some damage just can’t be repaired.  Glass replacement in the winter can be trickier, but no matter the time of year that the damage occurs, putting off service is not a good idea.  But there are serious risks to driver and passengers when a windshield is installed outdoors in the winter, exposed to the cold and precipitation.

As anyone who lives in the Great Lakes area knows, our weather can be quite unpredictable.  With weather patterns that turn on a dime and squalls blowing in from potentially any direction, being the weatherman must be one of the most stressful jobs in Rochester.  And Ray Sands Glass has no desire to try it out.  We find it easier to keep to your scheduled appointment and our safety standards when we arrange for indoor service during the cold winter months.

The reason outdoor replacement can be such a safety risk is that weather and moisture can affect the ability of the adhesive to cure.  While the very top quality adhesives will still cure safely in cold weather, that just isn’t what everybody is using.  Some cheaper adhesives, known as standard cure, require temperatures of at least 50 degrees and 50% humidity to cure in the given safe drive away time.  Due to these factors, some “standard cure” products have been known to take up to four months to cure completely in the cold North East winter weather.  This is one of the prime examples of why we feel the cost of good products is absolutely worth the added safety value.

If any part of the car or glass isn’t properly prepared for installation or is exposed to moisture during the replacement due to unexpected weather, the new glass simply won’t adhere.  We have replaced several windshield in our shop that were removed from the car in one piece without the aid of tools.  When a technician can push the windshield out with his bare hands, it’s scary to think of what might have happened if that customer were in an accident before they made it to our shop.

Windshield replacement is a process where safety depends on the materials not getting wet during the installation – so ask yourself this question: Would you approve if you hired a repairman and he wanted to spend an hour working on your computer outside during the winter in Rochester?

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.

Don’t Let Your Vehicle Leave You Out In The Cold

I hate to say it, but winter is right around the corner.  Just as we prepare ourselves by switching our clothes in the closets, cutting wood for the fireplace, and making sure our furnace is in working order, we need to get our vehicle ready for the winter months too.   

Follow these simple steps to ensure your vehicle doesn’t leave you out in the cold this winter:

  1. Get an oil change and top off all fluids, brake fluid, antifreeze, washer fluid, etc.  Get a tune up. 
  2. Check your lights: head lights, tail lights, turn signals, etc. check them all!
  3. Most wiper blades last one year.  If you haven’t changed yours recently, now is the time. 
  4. Check your tires to be sure the air pressure is where it needs to be for your tires and get them rotated if it’s been awhile.  If you have snow tires, it’s time to start thinking about putting them on.
  5. Consider having an Aquapel treatment applied to your windshield as it makes it easier to clear ice and snow from your windshield. Also consider waxing your car as it will protect your vehicle’s paint/clear coat finish and makes it easier to wash off dirt and salt during the winter months.
  6. Check your battery making sure the posts and connectors are free of corrosion. 
  7. Put an emergency kit in your truck.  Make sure it includes, at the very minimum, a  blanket, flashlight with working batteries, pocket warmers, and flares.  We also suggest you keep an extra set of boots and warm clothes, high energy bars, hard candy, and a small shovel, just in case.  
  8. Remember to keep your gas tank at least half full.  You never now when you may get stuck in traffic. 

I realize that these steps may sound like a hassle; however, they can be a lifesaver in the winter months.  A little preparation now, can save you big headaches down the road.  

Stay safe!

Rochester and the Great Toyota Crisis

Ray Sands Glass wants to acknowledge a few of our Rochester area independent Toyota dealers, who have gone above and beyond their obligations, addressing the  recent recall in a quick and efficient manner to ensure the security of their customers.

With Toyota executives receiving nothing but bad press lately, it can be hard for consumers to separate the behavior of the corporate management from the local independent dealers and the product they promote.  Toyota has a longstanding reputation as an excellent and reliable automobile and we would hate to see this automaker fall the way of so many others recently. Continue reading

NY State Police Now Required to Note Cell Phone Use

As all New Yorkers know, it is illegal state wide to use your phone while driving, except for hands free devices.  But yesterday NY State Senate passed a law requiring all police to note whether a cell phone was in use at the time of the accident.  The intention of this law is to allow the state to collect data on the dangers of cell phone use while driving, but it may end up making a difference in the liability of drivers in accidents. Continue reading

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.