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Windshield – A Crucial Role In Vehicle Safety

Published on December 25th, 2023

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Windshield – A crucial role in vehicle safety

Did you know that a vehicle’s windshield is a vital component of vehicle safety? It shields passengers from external elements such as wind, rain, and flying debris (dust, insects, rocks, etc.). Additionally, the windshield provides a sleek, aerodynamically shaped front window that enhances visibility while driving. This article discusses the basic structure of a windshield, its purpose, signs of a weakening windshield, and procedures to assess and replace a malfunctioning windshield sensor.

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Windshield

Important Functions Your Windshield Performs

Crash Protection: One of the most important roles of a vehicle’s windshield is to keep passengers safe during accidents by preventing them from being thrown from the vehicle. The windscreen is typically more durable than the other windows. This is why it doesn’t break easily on impact. Additionally, modern windshields are made of laminated safety glass, which consists of two layers of glass with a layer of polyvinyl butyral (PVB) in between. This construction enhances the windshield's impact resistance. In the event of a collision or other accident, the windshield helps distribute the force of the impact and prevents it from penetrating into the vehicle’s cabin, reducing the risk of injury to the occupants.

Resistant to Shattering: Windshield glass has a significant role in minimizing the chances of injury. Windshields constructed of safety glass prevent the glass from breaking into sharp, jagged pieces in case of an impact. Windshields are designed to withstand a significant amount of force, and even in cases where cracks form, the glass remains intact within its frame.

Maintain a Stable Roof: The windshield is critical to the structural integrity of the vehicle as it aids in preventing the vehicle’s roof from collapsing during rollover accidents.

Assistance with Airbag Deployment: Following a major front impact, the airbags in your vehicle deploy by rapidly inflating and creating a cushioned surface to protect the vehicle’s occupants. These safety devices rely on the windshield to act as a barrier, directing the airbags toward the driver and passengers. However, if the windshield is damaged, it may shatter and interfere with the effectiveness of the airbags, leading to severe injuries for occupants in the front seats.

Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems (ADAS) Support: Modern vehicles often include Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) technology, which includes features such as lane departure warning, forward collision warning, blind spot monitor, automatic emergency braking, automotive head-up display, and rain sensors. The windshield often houses the sensors and cameras necessary for these systems to function properly. These systems rely on the windshield's transparency and proper calibration to provide accurate information and assist the driver in various situations.

Symptoms of a Failing Windshield

Cracks and Chips: Visible cracks or chips in a vehicle’s windshield can weaken its overall structure and affect the driver's ability to see clearly. Such damage can result from various causes, such as rocks hitting the windshield, sudden temperature changes, or accidents.

Distorted Vision: If the view through your windshield appears distorted or wavy, it may be a sign of delamination. This occurs when the PVB layer separates from the glass, which can impact optical clarity.

Hazing or Cloudiness: If your windshield appears hazy or cloudy after cleaning, it may indicate damage or a chemical reaction within the glass layers.

Leaks and Moisture: Water or air leaks around the windshield's edges suggest a faulty or deteriorating seal., This condition can lead to further damage and potential structural issues.

How to test and replace the windshield?

A windshield should be tested and replaced carefully to ensure proper installation and functionality. The steps outlined below provide the general procedures to effectively test and replace a windshield. Be aware, though, that specific procedures may differ based on the make and model of the vehicle. Always consult your vehicle's service manual for the specific instructions provided by the manufacturer or seek professional assistance in understanding and performing replacement procedures.

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Testing the Windshield

Visual Inspection: Visually inspect the windshield for any noticeable cracks, chips, or other damage. Be sure to check for hazing, cloudiness, or delamination, as these conditions can impact visibility.

Water Leak Test: Spray water along the edges of the windshield and check for water entering the cabin or signs of moisture inside the vehicle. If leaks are present, it may indicate faulty sealing or damaged windshield adhesive.

Wind Noise Test: When driving at highway speeds, pay attention to any loud wind noise coming from the windshield. This could indicate presence of a gap between the windshield and the vehicle’s frame, or that the seal is not fitted correctly.

Replacing the Windshield

Windshields that cannot be repaired must be replaced. BE SURE to exercise care during removal and replacement to prevent personal injury or damage to your vehicle.

  • Before beginning, make sure all required tools and materials are on hand. These may include a new windshield, a windshield adhesive kit, a utility knife, protective gloves, and safety glasses.
  • To ensure the safety of the vehicle, park it in a well-ventilated area that is not directly exposed to sunlight. Close all doors and windows and cover the interior with protective sheets to prevent any potential damage.
  • Remove the damaged windshield: Use the appropriate tools to remove windshield trim and molding, then carefully cut through the adhesive seal around the windshield. Apply consistent pressure and move slowly and carefully around the edges. Once the windshield is loosened, slowly and carefully lift it off the vehicle.
  • Clean the area: Thoroughly clean the frame where the windshield will be installed. It is critical to remove any old adhesive or debris to ensure a clean and smooth surface.
  • Install the new windshield: Apply a bead of windshield adhesive along the entire perimeter of the windshield frame. Carefully place the new windshield onto the frame, ensuring it aligns correctly. Then, apply gentle pressure to ensure proper adhesion.
  • Reinstall trim and molding: After the adhesive has completely cured, reinstall any trim or molding.

How much does it cost to replace the Windshield?

The cost of replacing a windshield can vary depending on several factors, including the make and model of the vehicle, the type of windshield, the region or location, and the service provider. On average, the cost of windshield replacement ranges between $200 and $500.

To obtain a precise estimate for windshield replacement, contact an auto repair shop local to your area. Provide the shop with accurate details about your vehicle, including its make, model, and other relevant information. Requesting a specific quote will enable you to receive a more accurate estimate tailored to your location and the requirements of your vehicle.

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