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”

Spring has Sprung – Time to Give Your Ride a Check-Up

Spring is one of the most popular times of year for people to perform many of their annual auto maintenance tasks.  While you are out in the garage checking air filters and tire pressure, or taking it to the shop to change out belts or fluids – don’t forget about the glass!  After all, there is no other part of your car that you spend as much time looking at (or through)!

Applying Aquapel is one of he simplest of those semi-annual tasks and also one of the best ways to protect your visibility during the severe spring storms that seem to pop up at the most inconvenient times.  Especially during those heavy rains where it doesn’t seem the wipers can go fast enough!  While Aquapel can’t protect you from high water or flash floods – at least you’ll be able to see what’s ahead before you’re waist deep in it!
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Negligent Repairmen Can Make Trouble For Unknowing Car Owners

Imagine you are at home, vehicle in the driveway, and someone rings the doorbell to inform you that they happened to notice that your windshield is dangerously in need of replacement – even when there isn’t apparent damage.  So many folks are shocked and frightened at the safety issues implied by the apparently knowledgeable glass technician, that they hand over their auto insurance card, and sign off on the replacement.

Unfortunately, most of the windshield replacement “technicians” who perpetrate these types of scams are completely unqualified, and use substandard  adhesives and cheap or used glass.   They are blatantly victimizing car owners by removing their factory windshield (which is ideal for safety), and replacing it with an unsafe product.  Not only are the insured being conned into defrauding their own insurance company – they are doing so to their own detriment. Continue reading