The windscreen is the most important window for the driver. Without a clear, unhindered view of the road safe driving is impossible. Therefore, the law is particularly severe with respect to a windscreen’s condition. Read in this article what to observe for your front screen and what to do in case of damage.
Possible windscreen damages
A windscreen protects against the wind-stream pressing harder against as speed increases. It catches the full power of the wind and all objects it carries. Even the smallest grit particle can leave a lasting impression on the front screen. Additional to scratches and cracks, continuous scouring of dust on the front screen contributes to gradual impaired visibility.
In addition to stone chip damage and gradual scratching, bodywork torsion can cause a sudden crack in the front screen of your car. Even minor buckling of the car body causes sufficient tension in the windscreen, causing cracks. Generally this is the consequence of production faults or negligence at assembly coinciding with other factors. However, the possibility of a sudden crack in the front screen can never be totally excluded. The reason for this lies in the carrying function of the front screen, contributing to the car’s general rigidity and therefore exposed to permanent tension.
Applying the windscreen wiper after losing a wiper blade unavoidably causes scratching of the front screen. Therefore they receive special hardening treatment, though this refinement is mainly intended as protection against sand abrasion. Even the best windscreen offers little protection against a rough treatment by an exposed wiper arm. This applies to the rear window as well.
Glass can be repaired
The laminated car screen consists of three layers: the hardened top glass layer, a transparent interlayer of thermoplastic material and the bottom layer. Most damage only affects the top layer, which can be repaired.
A damaged spot on a front screen can often be repaired by injection of a plastic resin, causing the crack to disappear entirely, adequately stabilising the cracked spot, preventing further damage. However, this requires several positive factors to coincide. A professional should determine if and to what extent a front screen is eligible for repair.
Breakthrough in glass polishing
Technology provided a real breakthrough in the field of scratch removal: new solutions are now available for polishing blind spots or slight scratches. This still is a cumbersome task as the glass resists scouring treatment due to its hardness. Yet, with the right glass polishing solution, a polishing device and plenty of patience, amazing results can be obtained. This breakthrough can help saving time and money.
There is no free repair
After decades of loud exposure to irritating radio ads, everybody should be aware that glass damage is repairable under certain circumstances. One thing should be clear in advance: in spite of all loud promises by advertisers, there is no such thing as free repair. Even with a comprehensive insurance a deductible applies, which might, depending on rate, turn out to be as expensive as the very repair.
When to repair your windscreen
Due to the earlier mentioned high tensions in a front screen, continuing driving with visible windscreen damage for too long, is not recommended. Even the smallest fracture could sooner or later develop into extensive damage. A sealed and glued spot re-establishes complete security. Repairability of front screen damage is subject to narrow margins. To be eligible for repair,
– shouldn’t be in the area directly in front of the driver (the so-called A-zone)
– shouldn’t be within a 10 cm border from the windscreen frame
– may only penetrate the upper window pane
– shouldn’t exceed 5 mm core diameter.
– should in total not exceed the size of a 2 euro coin.
With help of a 2 euro coin or similar, every layman can check the eligibility for repair himself.
Useful immediate steps
A stone chip causing visible damage on the front screen requires immediate action. With special protective stickers, the fracture can be temporarily sealed long enough to prevent the damage from growing. Water penetrating the fracture enhances the risk of front screen damage. Freezing water in winter and evaporating water in summer cause additional tension in the front screen. Therefore a fracture should be sealed as soon as possible. Applicable stickers can be found in the accessory retail.
TIP: Always keep a few sealant stickers for front screen damage at hand in the car.
When replacement is compulsory
The law does not allow extensive windscreen damage in the immediate viewing range of the driver. The immediate viewing range is the area right in front of the driver, the so-called A-zone. In this area, no window repair is allowed. A 10 cm border zone around the window frame is excluded from repair as well. A hole with a core diameter exceeding five millimetres cannot be repaired. If damage occurs in any of these areas, the front screen is up for replacement.
DIY or have it replaced?
Replacing a front screen is a useful opportunity for acquiring DIY-skills in car repair. Special know-how, the right tools and plenty of experience is required for removing and installing a windscreen without damage. The older windscreens with all-around rubbers were easier to repair than the present glued windscreens. At any rate, the removal used to be easier and a front screen could be found on the scrapyard. This is hardly possible with the glued windscreens of today.
Ultimately, the best advice is to find a professional if you don’t have the skills, tools or means. This ensures an adequate result at moderate costs.
Preparation might help saving costs for repair. You are warned against removing the front screen by brute force, possibly resulting in flooding the interior with glass splinters. Removing all interior covers or panelling is useful. Removing all covers, rear-view mirror and the sunshades in advance considerably speeds up the windscreen’s disassembly. Many cars have an edge protection screwed on. This can easily be removed, enabling the mechanics to start their repair immediately.
TIP: Be sure to make photos of the entire front screen and every individual sticker, enabling you to replace toll vignette, environmental badges and other stickers. Motorway vignettes can generally be obtained cheaply or for free.
Upgrading the windscreen
When the front screen is up for replacement anyway, you might consider a decent upgrade. The law allows discrete tinting for windscreens. Complete shading is only allowed for rear windows and rear side windows! Screen tinting provides sufficient intimacy and anonymity for the driver in his car.
and road safety
with a new windscreen
Installing a new windscreen boosts the car’s value. At any rate, driving with a clear scratch-free front screen is so much safer.
Foto: sima, Guas, jarabee123, Yuri2010, Novikov Alex, Martin Lehmann, Dmitry Kalinovsky, goodluz, Africa Studio, Ikonoklast Fotografie, NicoElNino / shutterstock.com