In this post I want to talk about another useful service, which a body shop craftsman could offer to their customers, this of windscreen replacement or repair.
Even if there is no accurate statistics of how much of the overall number of crashes involve windscreen damages, we can surely say that it is quite sizable number. Besides collision accidents, car’s windscreen may be damaged by bird or flying stone from a vehicle moving in front of us. From 5 to 10% of the total number of vehicles on the road replace windscreens every year. Another 5% of the total vehicles are driving with damaged windshields, which should have been repaired or replaced. The vast majority of the modern vehicles are fitted with airbags, and the windscreen also serves as a support against which the passenger air bag inflates. Needless to say, integrity and strength of bonding of a windshield is vitally important for safety on the road.
Repair or Replace?
In case of the heavily damaged vehicle with front windscreen smashed, the answer to this question is easy. Windscreen must be removed and replaced by a new one. Body shop manager has to options, either to ask external professional to take care of the damage or to perform the job by the shop itself. The second solution evidently is more profitable.
However, let’s imagine that we have a customer who came to us to paint her car. After careful examination of the vehicle, you notice that the front windshield has a crack or small dent. What shall we do in this case? Obviously we must inform the customer about safety issues involved and to offer your services to deal with the problem.
Types of minor damages on a windshield
Generally we can distinguish two major types of small damages on car windscreen: chips and cracks.
Chips are mainly divided on three types: bull’s eye, star or half-moon.
Crack is typically a line-like damage.
In order to take the right decision whether to repair or replace the damaged windshield and to communicate your offer to the customer, we should follow easy rules as below, based on which section of the windscreen the damage occurred.
On the chart below you can see that typical windscreen is divided on 4 sections. Depending on where the damage is, we decide how to proceed.
Zone A * Replace Replace
Zone B repair if Ø up to 15mm length up to 5cm
Zone C repair if Ø up to 25mm length up to 10cm
Zone D** repair if Ø up to 45mm length up to 15cm
*Even if some companies claim that damages in zone A, which have size up to 10mm could be repaired, I believe that even slight discoloration or unevenness would decrease clarity and reduce visibility for driver. In such case, it is better not to compromise safety and replace the windscreen.
**Chips and especially cracks near the edge of the windshield can diminish the strength and integrity of the windscreen and its bonding to the metal frame, which in turn may put passengers at risk. Windshield replacement is also highly advised.
Replacement of a windscreen can easily take place in car paint shop. There is no significant investment needed, nor expensive nor long training procedure. However, it is crucial to follow exactly the steps required by windscreen adhesive supplier. An average curing time for windscreen replacement vary from 1.5 hour up to 8 hours, yet the difference in time depends mainly on the technical characteristics of the product. Nowadays one can find a windscreen adhesive with safe drive away time from 1 hour with 2 airbags installed up to adhesives with 6-8 hours drive away time. I strongly recommend car body shop professional to use quick adhesives in order to save time.
Important aspects, which could undermine the quality of the windshield replacement:
- Not cleaning the new windscreen properly before the application. Use a degreaser or antisilicon cleaner, especially on the windshield’s edges is recommended.
- Not wearing disposable gloves, when handling a windscreen, allowing oil and dirt from their hands to impair bonding process.
- Skipping primer application. It is one of the biggest problems from my experience. Primer has two major functions: to serve as adhesion intermediate layer and to protect sensible to UV rays adhesive.
- Not using the right adhesive. Unfortunately, there are still some brainless “professionals” who use simple PU sealant as adhesive for windshield. This is totally unacceptable and dangerous practice.
According to statistics, about 30% of all damaged windscreens could be repaired. In addition, the repair process costs less, and only takes about 30-40 minutes. Repair methods have advanced for the last decade, so more and more car windscreens are repaired rather than replaced. Repaired windscreen maintains its OEM structural strength, and it must be preferred solution, when possible.
There is big number of various windshield repair kits in the market. I will not go in depth of the process, since this information is available widely in internet. More or less all systems use a special transparent resin injected with pressure to the damaged area of windshield. This resin spread inside the crack or chip, filling it up and bonding together. Usually the injecting equipment could be either manual or air pressure assisted.
Note that typical repair may still leave some minor sign on the surface.
To conclude, I would like to stress that replacing or repairing vehicle windscreen can be a very good way to increase your body shop’s profits, to add extra service for your customers and to grow your business. Nevertheless, you must be professional, accurate and responsible, because, as we mentioned above, windscreen is an integral part of a modern vehicle and safety of your customer should be in no way compromised.