Doughnuts by Donuts.

This is what you would find after cutting a windscreen away from the adhesive which keeps in in the car.

Note, there is an extra blob inside the 90-degree turn. There’s another one on the opposite side:

This windscreen had been replaced. To be fair, it wasn’t a bad job; just a little messy in places (the interior A-pillar covers hadn’t been removed, and the previous installer’s bond line was on the fabric which meant they couldn’t be removed before cutting out the windscreen). These extra blobs of polyurethane were of particular interest.

Underneath each blob is a hole. A hole to accept a locator on the windscreen (like a dowel) which helps set the windscreen in the correct position. The locator (usually on genuine parts only) drops into the hole and leaves a tiny bit of wiggle room, all within tolerance. It is especially useful on the assembly line as it negates the need for someone to check and measure the glass position before taping the windscreen in the correct position. It’s also useful for fitters as the locators are precise in their placement which means you can’t get the windscreen in the wrong position. Some fitters, however, don’t like them, and they would rather remove them before fitting the windscreen. Their thinking is that it could cause a stress fracture (which would only happen if the windscreen was bedded down evenly).

Aftermarket windscreens normally do not come with locators or setting blocks (very rare if they do). This means the holes on the car for those locators are redundant. They’re not needed.

The case in point here is that the hole, whether you use it or not, is inside the bond line. Take a moment to process this. The bond line is what adheres and seals the windscreen to the car. It’s watertight. No air, nor water, can get past or through it. It protects the inside of the car from the outside (as well as adding a degree of structural rigidity to the chassis). So why has our friend blobbed the holes in? They’re inside the bond line.

Plugging the holes with polyurethane would make sense if they were exposed to a water risk, but they’re not. If the windscreen did leak, it would leak because the bond line was breached or that the preparation was not adequate. Not because the holes weren’t plugged? In any case, when the genuine windscreen was in place, there was a location dowel in the hole. Or did this fitter thing they were plugs to keep water out?

Not all donuts have a hole and not all holes have donuts around them, so every mistake is relative and every perfection is subjective. Some people are just good at being shit, eh?

Claiming for a Windscreen with Admiral Insurance

Admiral is a UK based insurance company, set up in 1993 to specialise in car insurance. They’ve come a long way since and now offer a lot more than just car insurance.

They are a popular choice in the insurance industry and have managed to rise to household name status without any help from domesticated Russian-speaking African mongooses or Italian-named Welsh tenors. Whether you insure with them or not, like or loathe them, Admiral Insurance take centre stage as the go-to name for a car insurance quote.

Admirable Admiral.

A key component of most comprehensive motor insurance policies is glass cover. What many people do not realise is that windscreen cover, although the same policy, is a separate part of a fully comprehensive policy. It is a different claim process to how say, road traffic collision claims are processed. Same policy, different claims; if you claim for windscreen damage as an Admiral-insured policyholder you are directed to the prevailing ‘nominated’ windscreen replacement company (such as Autoglass or Auto Windscreens). However, if your car is damaged in a collision (or as a result of vandalism) your car will end up in an accident repair centre ‘approved’ by Admiral, usually somewhere close to where you live. In the words of a domesticated Russian (and English) speaking mongoose, ‘simples’. Got it?

Some facts on the two types of claim:

For windscreen repair/replacement claims, the repairer is contractually obliged and duty bound to make an assessment on behalf of the insurer on whether or not the damage can be repaired (or if it meets the repair criteria which is set out somewhere on a Venn diagram of what MOT regulations advise; what British Standards permit, and their own limits of what they will consider as viable). In the event of a replacement, Admiral state that they,

“…may use glass which is not provided by the vehicle’s manufacturer but is of a similar standard and quality.”

However, the stipulation on parts used in the event of the car going in for accident repair appear to be somewhat dissimilar:

” We will repair your vehicle with parts made to the manufacturer’s specification.”

Simplified, if your windscreen is damaged they will only pay for a non-standard – or aftermarket – replacement. However if the windscreen is part of an accident claim, they will replace it – and all other parts – with genuine, OE parts.

Got it?

Oh, remember the bit about the repairer making an assessment on behalf of the insurance company on whether or not it meets the repair criteria? A car was in for repair; rear end damage. The car was returned to its owner who then claimed that the windscreen was damaged in the collision and demanded that it is also replaced. Admiral Insurance approved the work and the car was returned to the bodyshop. No inspection. No assessment. Nothing. Here is the damage:

Windscreen Damage?
Windscreen Damage?

The thumb-print is of the person taking the image sent to Admiral Insurance. It was so small, they had to point at it for the image. What this also means is that the windscreen replacement was approved fair and square; legit. Putting the (very) repairable size of the damage aside, how can a stone strike – on a front windscreen – be connected to a rear-end shunt? Some more on the size of the damage:


Windscreen Repair?

It’s so small it was difficult to get he camera to focus on the damage, and not the tape measure.

Between their policy to replace damaged windscreens with parts not manufactured by the car manufacturer, they’ve approved the replacement of a perfectly repairable windscreen with a genuine, manufacturer-branded part. Questions need to be asked about this disparity. Why? How? Not only that, who is making that correlation between rear end damage and front windscreen stone strikes?

Come on Admiral, this is silly. You’ve been had by a chancer, and you’ve pulled your own pants down before bending over.

Admirable.

There Can Be Only One

When someone copies you, or something you have done, it can be a tad annoying. Cast your mind back to school and having to fence yourself in behind books (or cradling with your other arm or hand) to stop someone near you copying your work. Nobody wants their ideas stolen, so how can imitation be the sincerest form of flattery? If it is in the context of learning, it could be argued that listening would be more sincere if the aim truly was to flatter.

Why can there be only one?

The answer is quite simple: to distinguish your business from competitors. The best way to do that is to protect your work – or brand – by copyright or trademark.

In the movie Highlander, a group of immortals with special powers battle against each other to become the ultimate warrior. Some may interpret the plot of this classic eighties movie as a group of guys beheading rivals until there is only one warrior left standing. This same analogy can be applied to business. A company wants to be the only one bearing that name. In a wider context, a company may want to be the dominant brand in their industry and will stop at nothing to make sure it remains that way. Some businesses would simply like to protect their reputation and perhaps make sure that nobody ‘passes off’ as them and thus, causes confusion in the marketplace. The appointment of a trademark gives a business a proverbial sword to protect itself as it eliminates the chance of consumers confusing one company or service with another.

In the windscreen replacement industry, a culture of copying another company’s trading name is rife. For example, a quick search on the internet will reveal there are many firms operating as Autoglaze yet none of them are connected or associated in any way. They are all effectively, in competition with each other. It appears to be such a popular name for a windscreen company as it almost sounds and looks like Autoglass. Perversely, you will not find any ‘copies’ of Autoglass as anyone that has even attempted anything remotely similar has been, in a legal sense, beheaded. Autoglaze on the other hand is not protected and some have tried to make their version of the name more original by adding prefixes or suffixes. It’s as amusing as it is nonsensical. Why call yourself something similar to a business already in existence? Can’t think of one of your own? Just copy someone else’s? Could it be that there just aren’t enough options to choose from? It didn’t stop the KFC brand. Kentucky Fried Chicken became the household name on both sides of the Atlantic, but in recent years, a trend of fried chicken shops calling themselves AFC, DFC, PFC or any other ‘FC’ they thought they would get away with saw KFC respond with a Guys, we are flattered’ advert. The Highlander reference perhaps indicative of in another of their statements:

“”We invest time, effort and skill into freshly hand-breading Kentucky Fried Chicken in our kitchens – all day, every day – and that’s why you can only get KFC at KFC.”

Brand protection. Is it business, or vanity? If it’s the latter, perhaps you shouldn’t be in business. Emotions can be good in business but vanity can easily blur the boundaries of navel-gazing. Let’s not forget who the protagonist is in your business. And if you want to make sure your hard-earned reputation is found by your customers, having someone copy your name might affect your chances. As far as emotions go in this sense, it’s frustrating and an effing nuisance.

Despite registering a trademark when Glasstec was incorporated, the plagiarists have been at it. Glasstech; Glasstek; Glastec; Glass Tech; Glasstech UK; Glasstech Repairs and a few more have all popped up. It’s tiring. They are nothing to do with Glasstec Automotive Ltd and are allegedly, potentially, infringing on a preexisting (and subsisting) trademark. Perhaps some of them have been named innocently and unaware of how Intellectual Property rights work. The government website does make it easy, after all, it was referred to when the mark was first applied for. It’s not difficult.

The Stress Crack Myth

Bananas do not grow on trees.

Bats are not blind.

Duck quacks DO echo.

Bulls do not become angry at the color red.

Windscreens do not stress crack.

Bananas grow on something the size of trees, but the banana ‘tree’ is not actually a tree. The banana plant, which can grow up to 25 feet, is actually the world’s largest perennial herb. When you carefully inspect a banana plant, you’ll notice that it doesn’t have woody fibers. It has strong stalks and leaves, yet it lacks the trunk and branches that would qualify it as a tree.

Bats see in black and white. At night they see better than we do. They lack color receptors; but in low light, we can’t see colors either.

Duck quacks have no special sonic quality to prevent echoing.

Bulls and other cattle are partially color-blind; they cannot see the color red. They are, however, defensive creatures and will charge when threatened, frightened or annoyed.

Education is the debunking of mis-education. This includes spotting and correcting the many myths emanating from the internet, folk wisdom and word of mouth. We have all been taken in, at some point or another, by a modern myth. The countless ‘stress cracked’ windscreens returned to wholesalers as defects are, 99.9% of the time, rocking horse shit. There is usually an explanation.

Windscreens do not crack spontaneously. This cited phenomenon is usually attributed to bad or incorrect fitting. In some instances the crack will be emanating from an impact, and in some rare cases extreme thermal fluctuations can be a cause. The study of fracture mechanics does not accommodate for laminated windscreens which have, “cracked for no reason”.

Stress-cracked windscreens: a trade fallacy.

A Condemned Windscreen?

According to the repair criteria set out by a national and insurance ‘approved’ windscreen repair and replacement company, this windscreen is not eligible for repair:

Windscreen Front Elevation

Why?

There are too many chips.

Whilst the windscreen isn’t exactly peppered, there clearly are five areas of damage, but they’re spread out and well apart. Would the same company be happy to attend to the same car and windscreen on five separate occasions? We don’t know what their policy is and whether or not they have a way to monitor it, but anyone would think they would for sure. So what’s wrong with repairing all five in one sitting?

A closer look at each chip.

A:

It’s low down and by its position, size and type not intrusive. However, it is still visible. From the image it does look like it may even have had a repair attempted previously and the car owner confirms this is the case. In any case, if it has had a repair, it was a very poor attempt and looks like it can still be improved by re-repairing. The structural element of the damage looks untouched, and only the impact crater has been filled.

B:

This one is in the A Zone. It’s tiny. The diameter of a five-pence piece is 18mm. Some man maths-style deduction suggests the damage is between 3 and 5mm. The permitted repair criteria for an A Zone repair is 10mm making this a viable repair on all counts.

C:

Chip C, by coincidence is in the C Zone. The coin provides a useful scale and in any case, looking at the damage (before or after repair) is obscured by the rear view mirror so the emphasis here would be on how it looks cosmetically from the outside, provided it is repaired structurally. There is an obvious sign of moisture in the break, therefore no issue in why this cannot be repaired.

D:

Chip D. A classic ‘bees wing’ with some ‘daisying’ around the impact mark. It’s low down in the C Zone and repairable.

E:


Chip E is in the perimeter of the windscreen known technically as the D Zone. It’s a tiny ‘half-moon’ style break with more surface damage than structural. There are a couple of minute pit marks next to it which are easily addressed (sometimes referred to as vanity repairs).

Overall, four viable repairs and one re-repair. Chip A was not cited as a reason not to repair. The repair company simply said there are too many. How many car owners/customers would trust the word of a professional making such an appraisal and agree to have the whole windscreen replaced? The reality is, it won’t be long before the new windscreen (which would not be a genuine OE part) to pick up similar damage?

There are no ‘windscreen commandments’ forbidding multiple repairs, nor technical explanations (on the repairer’s website) to validate why their repair criteria is set in this way. Incidentally, they also will not repair anything in the windscreen perimeter yet they ‘proudly’ boast a ‘Repair First’ policy. So what’s the issue here? It’s quite plausible for a motorist to need five separate repairs on five separate occasions (which would obviously mean five separate invoices) but why is it that if there are four or five on the same windscreen they won’t repair on one visit?

Granted, some car owners would choose to replace the windscreen, so who decides? The consumer? But what if the consumer decides against it? A new windscreen? Who decides that? The repairer? Who is the real beneficiary here?

Windscreen Condensation.

Have you noticed that your windscreen is fogging up more than it used to? It may just be something unavoidable, or it could be something much worse.

First and foremost, water vapour in the atmosphere which occurs when your body heats the air inside the car – as does your breath – increases the amount of moisture it can hold. This means when it comes into contact with your windscreen (or glass) it cools and condenses, forming a mist. Simple. Nothing to worry about; it’s science at work. There are several tips (or hacks as they’re commonly referred to on social media) on how to prevent this such as:

  • Use the heater efficiently. Start the heater off cold, then slowly increase the temperature as the air dries out, rather than overloading the cabin with hot, ‘wet’ air.
  • Open one of the windows as you wait for the condensation to clear. The idea is that you’re not raising the temperature inside the cabin which will slow the process [of clearing] down.
  • Coat the inside of the glass with a recognised water repellent which will help prevent condensation.
  • Keep the windows clean. Keeping your windscreen clean will go a long way to stopping it misting up in the first place.

If you still experience excessive condensation, you could be looking at a much bigger problem.

It is still worthwhile noting that glass will mist up more in cold or wet weather. During the colder months the car windows might take slightly longer to clear; even longer so if it’s raining. However if you find that the windows continue to mist up to the point that the water droplets become bigger and more visible, the car is battling a water problem.

Where is the water coming from?

If you’re not bringing the water in on your clothes, or have left a door, tailgate or window open to allow the carpet to soak up rain, something could be leaking. The most obvious culprit usually is the windscreen. Next in line could be the sunroof (if the car has one) or the sunroof drainage; next in line: doors (drainage in the door) or the door membrane (between the door card and door. Some cars will develop a heater matrix leak and is much harder to detect.

Whatever the cause is, get it looked at as a matter of urgency. Driving a car with windows misting up is dangerous as well as illegal. You might argue the fine or even pay it if you’re happy to throw up to £1,000.00 down the drain, but crashing the car will cost you much more. Injuring or killing someone (because you didn’t see them in time) is unforgivable and it is not something most people can live with.

Always clear all windows before setting off.

Lockdown Defiance and Ignorance

Why are we, the British public, so defiant? Is it just us?

Yesterday I went to collect a couple of (pre-ordered) windscreens from a wholesaler. They’re doing all they possibly can as a supplier and this is immediately apparent as soon as you approach the front door:

ONLY ONE CUSTOMER AT A TIME

Also stated on the sign is a further request to use your own gloves, pen and mask. This message is on each of the four panels of the sliding door.

As I approached the door I saw there was a chap from another windscreen company busy collecting his order. I waited; as he came out I asked if he was done. He said, ‘yes’. My way in was clear. It’s a small reception area about 3m by 3.5m. A small serving hatch to the office and and a handover counter where the products are placed for collection. Customers usually go in, sign for their goods and wait for them to be picked from the warehouse.

In the time it took for me to be handed my invoice; sign it, and turn towards the ‘jump’, two guys walked in to the reception area. One chap, from National Windscreens walked straight up to the hatch and the other, from AVG, stood there like a lamppost making the third point of a triangle. “So much for the ‘one customer at a time’ notice on the door eh, chaps?” The fitter from National Windscreens just stood there like with a blank look on his face, akin to an envelope with no address on it. The AVG guy, stood in front of the door, ready to return my serve, “There’s two metres between us. I can’t see what the problem is?”

Therein lies the issue. We are given an instruction in the form of a request yet the general public ignore it and find a reason – a way – to justify why it does not apply to them.

Mr AVG fitter must have seen the signs; you can’t miss them because you have to walk through them to get it. Besides, he knew what I was getting at as he responded directly to it. He didn’t double-take and pop his bottom lip out. He knew exactly what he was doing. The rules did not apply to his sanctimonious self. Brave a supermarket sweep and you’ll see the same attitude and behaviour. Even before the governement update on lockdown restrictions, people were already dusting off their picnic hampers in anticipation of the rules being relaxed.

Is it just us, here in England? Other countries seem to be more respectful of such advice.

Approved Windscreen Companies.

If you asked for advice, you would seek it from a reliable source. To go ahead without it is usually ill-advised. It pays to do your research. Due diligence. Just like asking for recommendations on a suitable restaurant, we trust the experience and opinions of others; if you knew whether a restaurant was good, bad or indifferent you would base your decision to go there, or not, on that information. Similarly, if a friend bought you an experience at a restaurant, you would expect them to have looked into the matter in the same way. For example, if that restaurant had poor reviews on Trip Advisor your friend might have inadvertently poured custard over your main course.

In this context, your windscreen has cracked; it needs fixing. Who do you call?

If you have adequate cover in place (usually a Fully Comprehensive policy will cover most glass breakages) you simply get in touch with your insurance company. However, we all know, insurance companies don’t fit windscreens. Of course they don’t; windscreen companies do. Which one do you use? Which one can you use? This decision has been made for you by your insurer. It’s designed to make this part of the process easier for you and ultimately, it’s better for the insurer to have a deal in place with one company. Simple. Above 24-hour nationwide coverage for its clients it is probably the most economically viable arrangement for them.

Let’s have a closer look at the windscreen companies nominated by your insurer. Typically, it might be Autoglass; Auto Windscreens or National Windscreens. These are the big three. The nationals. There are others but they either haven’t been around as long as the big three or are structured differently. For example, Nationwide Windscreen Services is a joined up network of independent subcontractors.

Would you choose one of the aforementioned windscreen companies? Or would you prefer to nominate one yourself? The plain and simple answer is: you can, but unlike the glass that might need replacing, it isn’t so transparent. The autonomy is there before you insure your vehicle. Do you have a say in who your car goes to for repair in the event of an insured loss? Very much so. Given that you must be given “appropriate information about a policy in good time and in a comprehensible form so that you can make an informed decision about the arrangements proposed,” you clearly do. Did your insurer – or broker – take steps to make you aware of the salient points of that proposal? If there was some form of ‘click here to confirm you have read and understood the terms’ gateway en route to the checkout, probably. Was it clear enough? Probably not. The Financial Conduct Authority guidelines state that [financial] markets need to be “honest, fair and effective so that consumers get a fair deal.” They do so for the benefit of all parties on both sides of the transaction. They ensure the business is acting fairly and that the consumer gets a fair deal. Given the presence of a specific requirement in the FCA Handbook: ICOBS 6.-1 Producing and Providing Product Information, why is the question of who replaces your windscreen not being asked before insuring against the risk? Should the onus be on the consumer to ask the appropriate question, or the proposer? The relevant section of the handbook states what needs to happen, so if your preference is to choose who works on your car, the matter needs to be clearer before you decide whether you want to accept that proposal or not. The matter of what will happen in the event of your windscreen cracking should be pre-disclosed in no uncertain terms. In some cases, the repairer is named. Perfect. Or is it?

What if the nominated repairer isn’t quite up to it? What if they are not experienced in dealing with the nuances of what is known to be a specialist job? It might be that the car is a marque of distinction; a supercar; a hypercar; a rare classic or vintage car which would require the expertise of someone with experience of working with that type of car. Surely this needs to be discussed before pulling the trigger to shoot down an off-the-shelf motor insurance policy? Insuring a classic Carrera might be no different to a modern Mercedes on paper but in the event of a loss both cars cannot be treated in the same way when it comes to repair. When insuring a Porsche, if the Key Facts stated that you can take the car to a Porsche specialist of your choice, the policy would probably have all but sold itself to you. But what if the repairer was one of the aforementioned monolithic names? Would you be comfortable with that prospect? One way to help you make that decision would be to simply look them up; this is, provided of course, that the proposing insurer is actually naming that company. By using an ambiguous blanket term of ‘approved’ doesn’t tell you who it actually is. If it’s Fred in a Shed with a Bag of Tools, it needs to be clear that it is. By saying ‘our approved repairer’ doesn’t tell you anything. It might be a company like Nationwide Windscreen Services who subcontract the work out to a smaller firm in your area which deepens the mystery of who will knock on your door. What if it was a company you would rather not use if given the choice? What if you have already had a bad experience with them? What if the company your insurer now sending to replace the windscreen on your pride and joy had 55% of their reviews online rated overall as poor? It’s somewhat awkward if this is what you agreed to when you accepted the quote in the first instance.

Take Stuart. He has a Porsche. When his windscreen cracked, he thought it would be a simple process of get it replaced and the insurance company will pay for it. He called his insurance company and was given a Glass Claims Helpline number which, when he dialed it, took him directly to National Windscreens. After a brief chat about the situation he was is, he established that National Windscreens were offering him a pattern part; not a genuine Porsche windscreen. It also became clear that the person to whom he was speaking was not familiar with the model his car, a 993. He asked if they had anyone there who was experienced in working on 993s and he got the impression that they weren’t as confident as someone who was. Stuart went back to his insurance company and expressed his concerns adding that he would rather the work was done by a Porsche windscreen specialist, particularly given the well documented issues around 993 windscreen replacement. Initially, they said no stating that they had confidence in National Windscreens’ ability to replace windscreens. Stuart drew their attention to the poor rating they had on Trust Pilot. 63% of the reviews were rated as ‘bad’. He went a step further and referred to Indeed, and employment related search engine and highlighted that 24 of the 58 reviews (from former employees) rated National Windscreens one star out of a possible five. Stuart demonstrated that had he had know this information when the policy was proposed to him, he probably would not have accepted.

Reviews are subjective. They are often not representative of the reality. However, from a consumer point of view the person representing that business, is the business and the testimonial therefore, will be based on that experience. One thing we cannot argue is that many reviews are questionable. Some are also irrational. The Great Wall of China has more than 9,000 Google Reviews, with an average rating of 4.2 stars. Not bad for an ancient wonder of the world. But you can’t please everyone. “Not very tall. Or big. Just sayin. I kinda liked it. Sort of,” wrote one vistor of the structure, which stretches thousands of miles. Another complained, “I don’t see the hype in this place it’s really run down and old … why wouldn’t you update something like this? No USB plug ins or outlets anywhere.” But reviews help others make decisions. Consumers use them to vet their options. Nobody wants custard on their main course, so if there’s any way they can safeguard against it, a customer review might just be what tips the decision for or against.

We want to feel secure in our decision-making processes.

Very few people write reviews. It’s a very small percentage; something like 15 people out of every 1,000 on average. Should we be relying on these people if we’re part of the other 985? What if they’re mostly true? Auto Windscreens do very well in their Trust Pilot rating: 77% rate them as ‘excellent’ and 15%: as ‘bad’. Similarly, 66% of Autoglass reviews are rated as ‘excellent’ and 12%: bad. Nationwide Windscreen Services (56% bad) and National Windscreens (63%) don’t fare so well.

Where the reviews are left also makes a difference. Facebook and Google Reviews are among the other popular review platforms. They are not just indicative of the reviewer, but some will allow images to be uploaded giving a broader assessment of the circumstances. Many reviews are also capricious and often say more about the author than the vendor. Perversely, if the numbers are pointing to the wrong end of the ratings scale, isn’t that more telling?

We can write off a smaller percentage of reviews as indiscretions or published disgruntled customers, or even malicious (from competitors for example) but when the swell of opinion is telling you not to use that service, why would you let someone railroad you into doing so?

If who works on your car is important to you, pertinent questions should be asked before policy inception although this in itself is not often easy depending on who you are speaking to or that the policy is an off-the-shelf package. When triggering an insurance claim you find yourself restricted by freedom of choice (in terms of who replaces the windscreen) or how much the settlement is (such as policy capping or increased excess) it’s prudent to have that conversation before accepting the proposal. Make that informed decision. It’s all very well saving a few quid on the cheapest quote, or adding another vehicle to a multi-car policy, but does the product give you what you want it to in the event of a claim? These all become very awkward questions later on, and whilst there is a way to get around those restrictions, it’s far easier to have it all in place beforehand.




Two Ways to Apply PUR

If you’ve watched your windscreen being replaced, you may have noticed the fitter reaching over and across the car to apply the adhesive (PUR). Or did he lay the bead directly to the glass? Only a few installers will extrude directly to the glass. Which way is better?

Unless it’s a hand-built car, when it comes to fitting bonded window units, the overwhelming majority of car manufacturers will use an automated system. Robots don’t need tea breaks or shift changes; they work around the clock increasing productivity. They are also consistently accurate. They have to be. The computer controlling the robotic arm which applies the PUR to a windscreen can be programmed to follow an exact map of where the adhesive should be. The best way to do this is to apply directly to the glass before another arm lifts the windscreen and positions it on the vehicle. Doing this by hand, in principle, is no different. The end result is the same.

Body or Glass?

This question could be paraphrased to: which is right and which is wrong?

Glue on Glass

If the windscreen is bonded in correctly, and does not leak, creak or rattle; doesn’t allow wind noise into the cabin and generally does everything a windscreen should do, it should not matter how the PUR was applied. However, there may be some advantages and disadvantages which could help answer the question of which way is better. There are two main objectives in the application of the best possible bead:

  1. The gun should be perpendicular (90 degrees) when applying. This negates the risk of a ‘tunneling’ effect in the compressed bead and provided the speed of extrusion and movement is consistent, the bead height will remain uniform;
  2. Ideally, one join is optimal. Simply, less joins = less chance of the windscreen leaking.

Tunneling occurs when the glue gun was angled when the PUR was applied. It weakens the bond by reducing the contact made (less PUR adhering) and can also cause stress fractures due to that trapped air expanding.

The darker, shinier appearance in the image is PUR which has not made contact with the glass. The cut urethane either side of it was all that was forming the bond. When the extrusion gun is angled, the bottom of the bead circular (created by the rounded part of the nozzle). Applying directly to the pinchweld means the technician needs to be elevated (higher than the car) and will also need very long arms if he intends to extrude a bead in one start-to-end movement. Some may stand on the door-shut for this, and others may even rotate their body through 360 degrees whilst standing inside the car reaching out to the pinchweld. It’s not impossible, but it is very difficult. For this reason, fitters opt for the easy option: start extruding by standing on one side of the car (the starting point either being as far over to the opposite side of the car as possible, or the middle). The line of the previous install is then followed around the aperture. There will be more than one join as the bondline cannot be followed entirely in one start/stop movement.

PUR application by hand, to bodywork.

Applying the urethane by hand is cumbersome, but many technicians perfect the method and will achieve very good bond lines. Some windscreens which require a push in trim to be inserted after the glass is fitted will use a damming tape. This is to keep the urethane where it needs to be so that when the glass is compressed down onto the adhesive, there will be enough product showing for the trim to push into. The added benefit is that the damming tape will act as a barrier for the inside of the car, preventing ooze on the interior side of the bond line. This will also prevent the PUR making contact with A-pillar trims (if they have not been removed for the install). Applying the PUR to the body for this type of fitment is solely reliant accuracy of a) the positioning of the PUR and damming, and b) the ‘set’ position of the windscreen. Both have to be ‘married’ by the installers eye as there are no reference points for guidance.

PUR on glass – with damming tape

Applying the urethane to the glass gives better control leaving the only alignment issue to lifting the windscreen into place. This is easily referenced by at first, dry fitting the windscreen and marking out witness marks. Applying urethane to the glass in this type of fitment is not only easier, it makes sense.

Ask any fitter who swears by ‘gluing to the body’ and he will say that he does so because there is already a bond line there from the previous windscreen (hey, but what if that was wrong, or that the car has been in for a front end respray) or that applying glue to the glass can go horribly wrong if you get the lift-on wrong (suggesting a confidence problem as the same surely applies to gluing to the body). The case against gluing directly to the glass is not strong. By applying to the glass:

  1. You have better control of the gun; it remains perpendicular as you
    manoeuvre it around the glass edge;
  2. The extrusion will require just one joint which can be positioned in the lower section of the glass;
  3. Most OE glass comes with witness marks indicating exactly where the adhesive needs to be;
  4. Bead height will be consistent.
  5. There is no overstretching to get to hard-to-reach places.

Some glass does not come with witness marks but this can easily be done by the technician.

Witness marks

OE glass provides witness marks according to the blueprint. It is the exact template required to replicate the factory install.

OE Glass with Witness Marks

The only thing left to get right after applying the PUR to the windscreen is the lift-on. There’s only one place that piece of glass can go. For avoidance of doubt, a quick dry fit gives the installer the opportunity to mark out reference points. Removing the A-pillar trims will also help with the post installation visual to ensure adequate contact has been made and that there is no unnecessary ooze or excess product showing.

Range Rover Windscreen
Audi Windscreen

There is no right or wrong in either method. It is down to preference and experience. However, there are better advantages in applying PUR to the glass than applying to the body. The defence of applying to the body cannot be reliant on the previous bondline as the template to follow, nor can it be argued that the lift-on is risky.

All comments and feedback welcome.

Windscreen Wipers

American inventor Mary Anderson is credited with designing the first operational windscreen wiper in 1903. In Anderson’s patent, she described her invention as a ‘window cleaning device’ for electric cars and other vehicles. The windscreen wiper has since remained one of the very few parts of a motor car which has lasted for well over one-hundred years virtually unchanged.

Why hasn’t anyone come up with a more hi-tech solution for clearing rain and water from windscreens than a rubber squeegee?

The Simple Windscreen Wiper

Until there is a radical breakthrough, we have to rely on this simple design. A flexible ‘blade’ is the best way to remove a coating of liquid from glass; when fluid (air, water, whatever) moves against a surface, the fluid in contact with the surface doesn’t move, it ‘sticks’ to the surface. As you move away from the surface, the speed of the fluid increases until it is at the same speed as the flow.

The concept of hydrophobic coatings is a great idea for glass, but airflow is still needed to make them most effective. The ‘beading up’ of water is the nano-coating working to repel the liquid but until there is force (airflow) the bead will not move as effectively as it is being repelled in all directions to prevent it from rolling away. Industrial rubber products like these are what keeps your windshield intact.

For now, long live windscreen wipers.