Whether you bought a car brand new off of the lot or purchased a used vehicle from a private party, there are a number of considerations you probably made. From the total sticker price and included features, to the fuel economy and number of airbags, it is important to know upfront what you are purchasing and how it will perform. It’s highly likely that if you bought a used vehicle, you had it inspected by a mechanic to ensure there was no faulty equipment or underlying issues. Despite all of these considerations, it’s probably the case that you didn’t consider what type of auto glass was installed in the vehicle or the quality that it provides.
Auto glass has been in existence for more than one hundred years and has evolved considerably since its inclusion in the first vehicles. What was once no different than traditional glass has since been transformed into a safer, stronger alternative that provides added strength and convenience to any vehicle. From tinting to rain sensors, modern auto glass has been infused with a number of features that we often take for granted. Few know that this entire industry operates outside of the convention regulations that apply to most auto glass parts. Below, we’ll discuss the dynamics of this and what you should know about auto glass before any purchase or repairs.
The Manufacturing Process
While you won’t hear it in any commercial, auto glass is an integral part of safety in any vehicle and its inclusion is an absolute must. The manufacturing processes surrounding auto glass do have some regulations that protect consumers, and auto glass is traditional manufactured in one of two ways. The first type of auto glass is laminated glass, which is made by sandwiching a layer of chemical in between two pieces of glass. This helps hold the glass together while also providing extra security and reducing the instance of shattering. The layer inside of the glass helps absorb shock and energy in the event of a wreck or roll-over. Laminated glass is commonly found in windshield applications.
The second type of manufactured glass is tempered glass, which is more common in side windows and back windows. This type of glass is made by super-heating the material and then rapidly cooling it down through a series of fans and blowers. The process of rapid heating and cooling creates compressive and tensile stretches, which cover the entirety of the glass. While this might not sound safe, the resulting process is very sturdy and capable of “stretching” under certain circumstances. If the material is ever compromised, the stretches in the glass ensure that it breaks into tiny pieces and helps drivers and passengers avoid any major injuries.
Where the lack of regulation really kicks in for the auto glass industry is in the installation and repair processes. Due to a variety of neglected legal loopholes, there is absolutely no standard by which auto glass technicians have to operate. This means that virtually anyone – a seasoned professional who is trained on how to install auto glass, or your next door neighbor – can open an auto glass repair and replacement business. Because of this, there is a wide variance of skill-sets and qualifications between various auto glass installation companies.
This can be worrisome, on a number of levels. For starters, your insurance company may require you to pay out of pocket for certain replacement jobs; if the job is faulty, then you’ve wasted money. In addition to this, the improper installation of auto glass can lead to a variety of failures in the event of a collision or roll-over that may compromise the glass’ ability to protect you. Since windshields can provide up to half of the vehicle’s roof strength in the event of a roll-over, an improper installation could result in death under the right conditions.
Evaluating Your Choices
How can you be sure that the auto glass company you select for repairs or replacement is qualified to do the work? There are a number of things to look for in any technician or company. First, verify whether or not the business is verified via the Auto Glass Safety Council, which is the closest to a standard that the industry currently has. Next, check with entities such as the Better Business Bureau to see if any complaints have been filed against the company – or if it is ranked at all. Next, scour local search results for reviews and comments about the business. You may find out that others have had negative experiences with the company, and can use this to scratch off potential candidates for your repairs.
Even though portions of the auto glass industry are not regulated, there are a number of safety standards in the manufacturing process of the glass. This does not mean you are safe, though: you can only rest easy when you know that the job has been performed by a qualified technician that has the necessary training to ensure proper installations. By being aware of this and using your skills to pick the most qualified local technicians, you can avoid any potentially life-threatening situations.