The Windshield Replacement Survival Guide – Consumer Auto Glass Education

Replacing Your Vehicle’s Windshield? Here is Your Windshield Replacement Survival Guide.

Safety First

A vehicles windshield provides the occupants a barrier from road debris and the outside elements. But most people don’t know a windshield is designed for structural safety in case of an accident, especially a rollover. A windshield is a vehicles third most important safety feature behind the seat belts, and air bags.

Windshields are like basketball backboards for air bags. So if you have a damaged windshield your air bag may not function correctly. It actually may inflate out the windshield cavity, rather than towards you. Or it won’t adsorb any pressure because your windshield simply pushes out.

Most consumers are not aware that when technicians replace your windshield, there is significant scratching to the “pinchweld” where the glass bonds to the car. These scratches must be prepped using paint and rust prevention steps. They should not simply leave exposed scratches where moisture from the exterior side can cause rust to develop.

Here are some questions you should ask your auto glass company:

  • Is the new glass OEM?
  • Did they remove the brand label on the windshield?
  • Does the new glass have a shade band that matches your old glass?
  • Is the new windshield the same color glass? (glass is actually colored, not clear)
  • Does your windshield have a rain sensor?
  • Is your windshield heated? (companies will install non-heated and charge for heated)
  • Does the windshield have the right bracket for your rear view mirror?
  • Does the new windshield have the same third visor as your old glass? (the painted black design which you can see around the rear view mirror on most cars)
  • Are they using a universal trim molding, or the actual trim molding part for your vehicle?
  • Does the company pay to fix paint scratches, if made by the auto glass technician?

Always inspect a piece of glass for scratches and distortion before it’s installed.

Types of Automotive Glass

A windshield is actually two layers of glass with a laminate material between the layers, what is called “laminated glass”. Laminated glass is extremely hard to puncture or break apart. That’s why a large object like a stunt man, can impact the windshield without breaking through. The strength of laminated glass combined with proper adhesion of the windshield to the body of the car provides massive strength against the roof collapsing in a rollover.

All of the other windows in your vehicle are “tempered glass”, which means they break into tiny fragments to reduce injury to the occupants. (a small fraction of vehicles have laminated side and rear windows also)

Windshield Urethane

Today’s vehicles use urethane as the adhesive to bond the windshield to the vehicle, like a glue. Some urethane after complete hardening which can take 2-4 weeks, can hold 500 pounds per square inch of pressure. That’s one reason why you could never simply push your windshield out. Impossible! Some urethane allows you to drive away within one hour after installing the windshield, hardening just enough to withstand vehicle accidents. When your replacement has been completed, make sure to inspect the inside of your vehicle around the edge of the glass. Make sure no urethane has oozed out into view or onto your vehicles interior. This is more common then people realize and needs to be fixed immediately before the glue hardens!

The urethane is normally heated, then applied to the glass or car body at the raised temperature. Depending on where you live or the application, they can use different kinds of urethane, even a cold temperature apply that is not heated. Temperature has a huge impact on the adhesion qualities of the windshield. I would recommend never getting your windshield replaced in temperatures lower than 55 degrees, or higher than 105 for the best results if possible. This is easy if you have the glass replaced inside of a shop or in a shaded area. Direct sunlight can heat the windshield to over 125 degrees!

Urethane does have an expiration date, so make sure you ask about this before a technician begins replacing your vehicle glass. Using expired urethane means minimal bonding power and the windshield has a chance of coming out during an impact. All urethane is made with an expiration date printed on the tubes, and if they don’t call someone else!

Paint Scratches, Rust, and Proper Windshield Installation

Deep vehicle scratches can turn into major problems later. Moisture will enter through a scratch and attack your vehicles body causing rust later. For people who live by the ocean, this can be disastrous for the structural integrity of your vehicle down the road near the windshield. If you are buying a used vehicle, make sure you check around the edge of the glass and under the trim molding for evidence of rust. Rust will spread under your paint, it is amazingly aggressive.

If the rust spreads to the “pinch weld” which is where the urethane is placed, the urethane will not bond and a windshield will leak or can even be pushed out. This can cause thousands of dollars in damage from water leaks or can even can cause death in an accident! If the rust moves into this area the technician must remove it before applying the urethane, or the vehicle must be sent to a body shop for repair.

Make sure the technician takes steps to prep and repair scratches to the pichweld. There is primer paints, metal rust prep chemicals, and other ways to cover scratches to reduce the appearance or spread of rust. The most important areas are where water will contact your vehicles body, especially under the exterior trim molding. That trim is not water sealed between the body and glass. The water seal comes from the urethane bead.

It is very important that you watch the installation of your vehicle glass if possible, DO NOT just walk away. If a professional technician can not perform the job while you watch, they shouldn’t be working on your vehicle and call someone else. A technician can cause significant paint scratching to your exterior paint job with improper techniques. Some even use nail polish or paint to hide the damage. Some even rub dirt into the scratch to make it look old! Ensure that the technician is using vehicle protective equipment like seat covers, floor mats, tape on the car body where it’s close to the glass, and a protective mat over your hood.

Make sure the technician removes body parts like windshield wiper arms and the cowling (located beneath the wipers) are removed, if the glass edge is covered by these parts. Most technicians will simply shoot a ton of urethane under the cowling area and “stuff” the glass, sliding it into the glue and under the cowling. This is extremely unsafe! A technician doesn’t even know if the urethane has created a proper seal, or if it is bonded safely. A proper windshield installation requires that the glass be place straight down onto the urethane bead. Also this ensures the urethane is not shot all over parts beneath the cowling like wiper assemblies and wiring.

OEM Windshields and OEM Equivalents

OEM means, original equipment manufacturer. So if your vehicle is a Honda Civic, OEM glass would be purchased from a Honda Vehicle Dealer. Auto glass installers can simply order OEM glass from the dealer. Make sure the glass has the OEM label. The windshield label which is about a square inch in size, normally is located in the lower corners of the glass. Sometimes OEM glass says the actual glass manufacturer rather than the Car Dealer name. Call your local dealer on what to look for.

A lot of auto glass companies will tell you they are installing the “OEM Equivalent” part. Because consumers don’t know what to look for, most times a glass with no label or an aftermarket part is used. Do not buy a glass when the label has been etched or removed. No one knows where it came from! Always check the label.

The only scenario in which you may find an equivalent glass, is purchasing a windshield produced by the same manufacturer which produced the OEM glass. It may even be from the same production line and mold from the OEM manufacturing!

Aftermarket Automotive Windshields

Do not be fooled into thinking an aftermarket windshield is the same as an OEM glass. Aftermarket windshields are made using reverse engineering instead of the original OEM mold and production line.

Aftermarket glass tends to have more visible light distortion when viewing the glass at an angle, and the dimensions are not exactly the same as an OEM. All glass that is bent has some level distortion yes, but it is considerably worse with aftermarket manufacturing. You may even see distortion when looking straight through aftermarket glass.

Aftermarket glass is transported through different processes than OEM glass from a dealer. A lot of OEM glass is transported covered by plastic wrapping and using strict shipping techniques, and the windshield’s edges are protected by foam wrapping. But Aftermarket glass is transported by much different practices. Most auto glass companies use no protection covering all surfaces of the glass for transport. And sometimes pieces of glass have been taken to customers locations and returned to the distributor or shop. So aftermarket glass has been handled many times!

Now I’m not saying aftermarket glass is unsafe or unfit to use at all. I’m simply stating the facts about the truth, for your education and insight. I feel you should be educated about this part of your vehicle which essentially protects your family on a regular basis.

Rain Sensors and Other Accessory Plugs Such as Heated Glass

If your vehicle has a rain sensor it should be located near the rear view mirror. A lot of times it looks like a circle, square or triangle. This option allows the windshield wipers to speed up or slow down depending on the amount of rain automatically. Make sure you get the same designed glass. If the rain sensor involves a gel patch, make sure the technician does not leave lots of air bubbles when installing it. Those air bubbles can cause the sensor to malfunction.

Some vehicles like a Land Rover, have plugs located under the interior a-pillar trim. On some convertibles like a newer Ford Thunderbird, a large portion of the interior may need to be diss-assembled to remove the interior a-pillar trim. On the Honda Ridgeline, the heater plug is located behind the glove box. Some new vehicles also have Lane Departure sensors located near the rear view mirror.

You can always find out what you need by calling your local dealer and giving them your VIN Identification number from your vehicle. If your car is important to you and you want to maintain the investment, always call your local dealer and ask for advice about your specific vehicle.

Windshield Shade Bands and Windshield Color

All auto glass has a shaded color. No windshields are completely clear. Typical shading colors are blue, green, bronze, and grey. Be sure sure to get the same color. You will see that all pieces of glass in your vehicle are the same color, excluding privacy glass and tinting.

A windshield may have a shade band across the top near the roof of the vehicle. This area is preferential. You should decide if you like it or not. It does tend to hide the edge of the interiors headliner when looking at the vehicle from the exterior. Shade bands do come in different colors but not all windshields

Most windshields can be ordered without a shade band at all. But you may find the part is actually more expensive because less people order it. Having a shade band does provide some shading in between your sun visors but it does little to drastically shade the sun. Take note the shade band will be darker at night.

Exterior Trim and Moldings

Your vehicle may have exterior trim or moldings cover the edge of the glass and/or covering the edge the car body. If the trim molding is just rubber, make sure you know what the technician is using to replace it. Some companies are now requiring that technicians use only a universal type aftermarket molding, rather than one that is specifically designed for your car. There should also be an OEM molding part available which is exactly the same as your original molding. Do note that cost for OEM is always more.

You may see plastic and/or metal trim moldings covering the edge of your windshield on the exterior. Normally these have some type of plastic or metal clips that attach them to the glass or vehicles body. Make sure the company replaces any broken clips or parts from removal of these parts. If your vehicle is older than 3 years, these parts become very brittle and damage easy. You may be warned about parts that always break, in which the company may request you also purchase that part ahead of time. You may find a lot of companies simply glue those parts back into place, rather than replacing the broken parts.

Vehicle Windshield Logo and VIN Window

On vehicles like a Ford Mustang and Ford F150, you may have a logo in the third visor above the rear view mirror. These windshields can be ordered with out the logo and are cheaper that way. Make sure you ask about your options.

Most windshields have a small narrow window for viewing of the VIN identification number near the lower drivers side portion of the glass. Make sure this window is in the right location on the glass. When the job is completed, make sure that glue has not covered the VIN, the VIN number plate has not been cut off, or that it has not been badly damaged. Police or the DMV will give you a hard time if the number is not legible or is completely missing from that location.

Sea Glass: A Raw Material Used by Artists

Sea glass fragments are found all over the world and come in the most amazing rainbow of colors. It is usually found along the beach after a high tide and storms. Many beachcombers collect these pieces and simply display them at home in a jar or bowl right next to seashells.

Sea glass is the product of man-made debris tumbled on the ocean or lake beaches for years, eventually washing up on beaches all over the world. Before plastics and aluminum came into common use things were much more often packaged in glass. Seaglass hunters are having a harder time finding their treasures in these modern times. As a result of its growing rarity, many people have begun manufacturing their own sea glass in rock tumbling machines.

Genuine sea glass is created by Mother Nature’s own recycling process. Glass items in the sea are broken down and smoothed to a polish. The waves and currents act like a giant rock tumbler.

Glass Beach near Mendocino on the Pacific Coast is a popular North American spot known for its seaglass. From 1949 until 1967, the area was a public dump. Back then people dumped all kinds of refuse directly into the ocean including much glass. Now, one can find millions of bits of colored glass sparkling in the sun.

Another famous area that is a rich source of sea glass is the coastline of Seaham and the North East Coast in England where a Victorian glass manufacturer would toss the remnant end-of-the-day pieces over the cliff. This factory was shut down over a hundred years ago and since demolished, but there is great variety found there – even multicolored pieces still wash ashore.

The finest characteristics of sea glass are their colors and contrasts, which inspire many artists to transform this unique debris into some astonishingly beautiful art.

Artists working in clay may embed this glass as decoration into thrown or molded works. The usual forms include pottery and mosaics. By drilling holes into tiny pieces, a skilled jewelry crafter can string them as beads. Artists can also create 3D sculptures of wired glass free-standing or mounted onto canvas.

Genuine gathered sea glass is more fragile than the manufactured type available in craft stores; it can be easily fractured with a drill bit. One must take care to go slowly and work both sides if creating a hole. Immersing the sea glass in water first will help to temper the glass to prevent chipping, burring or breaking. This measure will also protect against breathing in tiny particles of glass while drilling.

Another popular use for collectible sea glass is in “stained glass” effect projects. Artists have created and sold pieces ranging from small pendants to sun catchers to window panes. Whatever form it is applied to, the finished effects can be very striking.

Colors, Rarity and Shapes

  • Quantities of some colors are extremely limited. Orange, turquoise, red, yellow, cobalt blue, purple, black, and Vaseline are the rarest and most desired. Orange and yellow are actually the rarest, yet red and cobalt are much sought after when set in jewelry.
  • Sea glass is often hydrated which can give it a “frosty” surface appearance. Hydration is a time-consuming process of leaching out the lime and soda from the glass. This leaves pitting on the surface of the glass. Soda and lime can be combined with other elements to form tiny crystals in the surface of the glass. Exceptionally good samples will sparkle in the light.
  • Natural tumbling is often uneven on rocky shores, where a piece of glass becomes embedded with a portion still exposed. This frequently produces triangular shards, whereas sandy beaches often make sea glass well-rounded and nearly uniform in shape.

Types of Sea Glass

  • Vaseline Glass: Vaseline glass is made with Uranium and will glow under a black light, and so it is also known as UV Glass.
  • Flashed Glass/ Flash Glass: This is glass that has multiple layers of colors which are clearly visible. Usually this sea glass comes from decorative glass vases, bowls, etc.
  • Cobalt Blue: Cobalt Blue glass is almost always from one of 3 types of bottles: Emerson’s Bromo Seltzer, Milk of Magnesia and Poison Bottles.
  • Red: Originally real gold was used to make red colored glass which means less of it was made to begin with and thus increases the rarity of finding red sea glass.
  • Sun Glass: Lavender sea glass that started off as clear glass, but then turned lavender or, in rare cases, purple when left out in the sun. This is due to glass made with the mineral Manganese added which purples in reaction to sunlight.

Murano Glass: Ten Centuries of Art

Known for its unique glass artwork as far back as the 10th century the island of Murano, off the coast of Italy, is the home of some of the most beautiful glassworks ever created. Murano artisans craft everything from figurines to art glass, wine stoppers and jewelry. The glassworks produced by Murano artists became so well known that nearly half of the island’s population was involved in glassmaking.

History of Murano Glass Making

In the late 13th century the people of Venice feared that their city would be destroyed by fire from the glass maker’s furnaces they forced the glassmakers to move to the island of Murano. By the 14th century the glassmakers had become the most prominent citizens of Murano. They were treated as royalty, immune to prosecution, allowed to carry swords and they found their daughters married to the most important families of the time.

How Murano Glass is Made

Traditional Murano glass manufacturing is an art handed down over the centuries and was once such a closely guarded secret that in the 1600’s glass artisans were forbidden from leaving the Venetian Republic. With glass blowing being a family tradition passed down through the family, many of the techniques have remained basically unchanged more than 500 years.

Starting with pure silica the glassmaker heats the silica until it achieves a liquid state. As it cools the glass enters a malleable state where the glass is firm where it can be worked, shaped and colored. The artist shapes, reheats, shapes again, reheats again, add color and substances such as sodium, nitrate or arsenic to achieve the desired final product.

Styles of Murano Glass

As with most styles of art, glass making contains many different and specific styles. Some of the most popular include:

Murrine: Murrine glass consists of layers of glass stretched over canes (long rods). When the glass cools it is then sliced revealing a pattern in the cross section. By using this technique the artist can create pictures and patterns in raw glass before melting it all together in to a single piece.

Filigrana: Also known as reticello or retortoli glass, filigrana glass created when color or white threads of glass are encased in clear glass rods. When the glass threads are woven to create a grid it is referred to as reticello and when the glass threads are twisted in to a spiral they are called retortoli. As one of the oldest glass techniques it is probably the style most identified as Murano glass.

Lattimo: Often used for thicker glass and sculptures, Lattimo glass is identifiable by its opaque white color. This white glass often serves as a canvas for colored enamels to be applied to create whatever pattern or picture the artist desires. Made without blowing, Lattimo glass achieves its opaque white color from the sodium that is added to the silica as the glass is made.

Sommerso: Superimposed, or layered, glass, Sommerso glass is created by submerging the object multiple times in various colors while it is being created. Each submersion lays a new layer of glass and color over the top of the preceding layer. This style of glass is actually quite new, having come in to production in the late thirties and gaining widespread popularity in the fifties.

Glass Jewelry

Glass has been used as jewelry since the earliest days of glass making. The first glass jewelry techniques date back to as far as 2300 BC and involved a process called core-forming. Using a copper rod a string of molten glass would be wrapped around the rod until a bead of glass was created. Color was added either through impurities in the source material or intentionally by adding pigments as the glass making process was improved and clearer forms of glass were created.

As technology progressed the process of lamp working or, more recently, torch working where a single direct flame or torch is used to heat the glass. By using a single flame the glass artist can control both the temperature at which they work and the layering process much more closely than could be done using a furnace and molten glass.

Modern Glass Jewelry Fashion

Glass jewelry has never really fallen out of style in more than 2,000 years. But recently it has seen a resurgence as bead jewelry has become wildly popular again. Dozens of manufacturers have started making Murano glass beads as a part of their jewelry lines. This has re-opened the old argument of whether glass beads made outside of Murano can be legitimately called Murano glass beads.

We see mass production, all by hand, in factories around the world now. Many are based in lower labor cost areas such as Thailand and India and even the Philippines. Much like Swarovski Crystal, there are a lot of crystal manufacturers in the world. But only one can call itself Swarovski. The difference being that Swarovski is a family/company while Murano is a region. I can’t tell the difference between Murano Glass beads made on the Island of Murano and anywhere else in the world, but I am sure that purists would prefer to have beads and glass made from there.

What I do know is that I like it.