Winter Auto Care Mistakes

Of all the things that can go wrong with our cars and trucks, on which we are so heavily dependent, the worst of them are the problems that could have been avoided with a little forethought and a little knowledge about how your automobile works.  Unfortunately, the average driver doesn’t consider the finer points of auto care until they have made a costly mistake.  So today we will address some of the common avoidable errors of wintertime that we see here at the shop.

The first tip we have to offer is never leave your windshield wipers on when you turn your car off.  This time of year we see a lot of drivers who have burned out their windshield wiper motor when the motor tried to turn wipers that were thoroughly frozen to the windshield.  In other cases the wipers remained stuck, but the wiper arms moved accordingly,  resulting in some pretty severe damage to the windshield, which required replacement.  No matter the conditions, we recommend making it a habit to turn them off when you get out.

And for the same reason you should always remove ice and snow from the windshield and the wipers before turning them on.  When there is six inches of snow on your car, please don’t turn your wipers on for a moment and then drive off.   The same goes for the side windows, where trying to move a frozen window can strip the cheap plastic parts that operate    Not only is it unsafe for you and other drivers, it could end up costing you a lot more in repairs than you ever thought a windshield wiper problem could.

And of course, have windshield chips and cracks addressed immediately to avoid further damage.  This is exceptionally important in the winter, since thermal expansion can cause the heated inner layer and the cold outer layer to push and pull against one another.  This type of pressure can turn a small repairable chip into a full windshield crack in the blink of an eye (or a bump of the road).

And remember, when the sever weather comes we are all just trying to stay on the road and get where we need to go.  Show some kindness for your fellow man and drive as safely as possible – You may just spare a life!

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.

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!

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

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

Need Help Clearing That Icy Windshield?

As winter hit us hard this week in Rochester, many drivers were faced with the problem of clearing the snow and ice off their windows. Since we already discussed some of the things that can go wrong with this process in  How to Destroy Your Own Auto Glass, today we will discuss some things that can make clearing ice and snow easier without damaging your windshield.

Aquapel is your best defense if you don’t have a garage or car port to protect your vehicle from the elements.  The same chemical bond that causes the rain to roll up and fly off at high speeds, also helps prevent ice and snow from sticking to the windshield.  The windshield  isn’t going to be cleared and shiny when you come out in the morning, but the ice will certainly be a lot easier to clear, you can often use a squeegee instead of a scraper.

It’s important to make sure when applying Aquapel that you lift the wipers and make sure to treat the entire windshield, even under the wipers.   This is essential for winter application because you NEVER want to turn on windshield wipers that are frozen to the glass.  This could bend or break the wipers or wiper arms, or worse, blow out the windshield wiper motor – which would be a big punch in the pocket, especially during the holidays.

We also found  this article on Freep.com that discusses some other ways to help deal with ice on your auto glass.  In the article, author Matt Helms mentions windshield covers, sold at many auto parts stores which cover the entire windshield and are held tight with straps that close in the doors.  And while not nearly as nice looking, we have found that a basic waterproof tarp can work well too.

But however you manage it, remember that it is absolutely imperative that your windshield, as well as side and rear glass, be completely cleared for safe winter driving.

Rochester’s Insurers Benefit from Continuing Education at Ray Sands Glass

  Ray Sands Glass was excited to participate in teaching the Continuing Education courses for Insurers in 2007.  This program allows insurers to keep their licensing current, and really learn things they can apply to their every day business.  Many of the courses are helping the insurers understand some of the safety issues that can help them save lives, as well as things they need to know about repairs, shops, and fraud.  

  To become a Certified Continuing Education Instructor, our Dave Burns had to go through a rigorous training himself.  He was screened by the FBI and had state and local background checks, then was sent to a three day working seminar.  “It was a very, very intense training process”  Burns said “We trained 12 to 13 hours a day and studied all night.”  Not only did potential instructors have to memorize the 4 hour class,  they also had to teach a course, which was videotaped and evaluated before certification. Continue reading