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Issues Article
Turning "Threats" into Consumer Protection

Continued from Front Page :
Threats to Issues Editor

Issues has decided to make our readers "AWARE of businesses with slightly less than scrupulous motives. We do not need to name a company, for there are many companies that "bend the rules" to get ahead. Instead, we want our readers to be educated consumers.

This is the season for fairs, festivals and carnivals across the United States. There are conmen running con-games, taking your money, making you believe you are truly going to win that elusive prize. There are vendors who will try to sell you everything from soup to nuts. You can purchase things you'll probably never use, and you can also Beware!

One of the catch phrases people have become attuned to as they wander the endless mazes of fair and festival madness are the carnival callers, the men and women who taunt you to stop, look at their product, hear their pitch, play their game, see their atrocity, walking away is sometimes difficult. One of the pitches that is becoming all too familiar is: "Got any windshield damage?" Is it a con? No! Is it an insurance fraud hoax? No! Then why be educated? Because answering yes without the facts, is not beneficial to you. What you do not know about auto glass can make a difference to your safety and that of your family. Auto glass, seatbelts and air bags are the most important, life-saving equipment in your vehicle. American motorists replace nearly 15 million windshields and windows in their vehicles each year, unfortunately far too many have no idea about  the importance to their safety of a quality installation

Let's discuss auto glass, there are two types of auto glass, tempered and laminated. Laminated glass, is generally found only in your windshield, although newer vehicles are using laminated glass for side windows as well. It is constructed by bonding a tough polyvinyl butyral (PVB) plastic interlayer between two pieces of glass under heat and pressure to form a single piece. Fully tempered glass, which makes up mainly the side and rear windows in vehicles is used  because of its safety characteristics, due to its strength and  unique fracture pattern. Tempered glass strength, effectively resists wind pressure and impact, and when broken, the glass fractures into small, relatively harmless fragments. Laminated glass will also chip, while tempered glass will not.

Windshields are a structural component of today’s vehicles,  providing support to the roof in a rollover as well as aiding in proper deployment of the passenger-side airbag  in the event of an accident. Federal windshield glazing standards, providing  for penetration resistance, and installation standards providing for occupant protection and windshield retention in a collision  have been enacted in more recent years. It is always best to request original equipment when having a windshield replaced. OEM (original equipment manufacturer) glass is clearly the best choice for the consumer, it assures a more proper fit. However, requesting OEM glass is only a portion of the problem. If you drive a Ford, your OEM glass would be Ford or Ford Carlite, not PPG or LOF which is normally found in General Motors products. 

Make sure the windshield is installed with a urethane adhesive system that meets the original-equipment standards specified for the vehicle. Urethane has been designed and tested to provide proper adhesion of the glass to the vehicle. Urethane must be properly applied and cured to hold the windshield in place should the passenger-side airbag deploy. Proper curing time could mean up to 24 hours. A poor-fitting, poorly installed replacement windshield can result in anything from minor annoyances such as air whistles and water leaks to stress cracks and  the windshield installation no longer meeting federal safety standards. 


Who is actually doing the work on your vehicle? Ask questions! Many qualified auto glass shops with certified technicians exist. Many market their service via solicitation, there are also, however, marketing companies posing as glass shops. What does this mean? It means that the person who is taking your insurance information is no more than a salesmen. The company he works for will then subcontract the work to another glass installation shop, while charging your insurance company, or you, for the work. It is a perfectly legal maneuver, but what happens if you have problems with the installation? Who will be responsible? Is the company solicitating your business local, or are they located elsewhere? How much of the installation process does the salesman actually know? 

Question a glass installation shop that offers to waive your entire deductible, make sure that you are getting quality parts and service. Use a we can waive your deductible pitch as a warning.

Repairs: be aware that the resin used to repair your windshield is actually 110% stronger than the actual glass. There are instances when a repair should not be completed, such as if the repair would be in your direct line of vision, or if there are more than three chips that need repair. Repairs do not compromise the safety of your windshield as is the case with improperly installed windshields, they are however, noticeable and in time can yellow. 

Do not rely on your insurance agent or insurance company for advice, remember, your agent and/or company is in this to make money, if your agent / company tells you not to worry about a chip or crack in your windshield, he/she is not interested in your safety, they are interested in a bonus. If he/she requests you use a specific replacement center, question the motive. Most insurance companies will waive any deductible you have if you choose a repair over a replacement. Some insurance companies even offer a cash bonus to their customers for choosing a repair over a replacement. 

Be prepared. Know what you do and don't need. Know that a chip and/ or crack in your windshield will compromise the safety of your vehicle, do not allow anyone to tell you differently. Do not fear your insurance company, do not let your company/agent intimidate you; you pay for protection, use it if it is necessary. Always ask questions of auto glass shops, especially the ones soliciting you! What type of guarantee do they offer? Are the replacements guaranteed against stress cracks or will your insurance company be charged again? Will they give you the guarantee in writing before pulling your windshield out? Will they be using not only OEM glass, but glass specific to the vehicle you drive, such as Ford glass for Ford vehicles? Ask what type of urethane they will be using, if they say butyl, run don't walk, away. Ask how long it will take, if they say a short time, question them further. Ask about curing time (cold whether requires a longer cure time). Ask about molding, will it be replaced? Ask where they are located? Do they have local shops or are they transient salesmen? Ask for references? Are they registered to do business in your state? Questions can help you determine the transient from the legitimate, it may also save your life.


As always......I wish each and every one of you a life filled with dreams and void of ISSUES! I appreciate your patience and patronage.


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Page last updated 6/30/2002
C 2002 L Munro