The automobile industry’s focus on safety in the past two decades has completely changed the way consumers shop for vehicles. Now, features such as side airbag protection and anti-lock brakes are as important to a consumer as fuel efficiency or reliability. There is one aspect of automobile safety, however, that most people give relatively little thought to, yet it is pivotal to the safety of a car: the windshield.
Most people don’t realize that today’s windshields are actually safety devices in themselves, designed to work in conjunction with the car’s other restraining systems. Airbag systems, for example, need the strength of a properly bonded windshield in order to work properly. If the airbag deployment caused the windshield to pop out, the airbag would not provide the intended protection to the driver’s head.
Windshields are also strong. Structurally, they account for about 20% of the overall strength of a car, which is important for many reasons. Besides preventing passenger ejections, the strength of the windshield helps prevent roof cave-ins in rollover type accidents.
Luckily, the US government requires that all new cars be certified to meet specific standards and to be thoroughly tested. Problems occur, however, when windshields become damaged. Even a tiny chip or crack can compromise the integrity of the entire windshield, leaving the driver at risk in an accident.
A chip or a crack in the windshield does not require complete replacement (In fact, repairs rather than replacements are preferable, because the rigid tests on bond strength required in new vehicles are not performed on replacement windshields). Repairs should be performed promptly, and can actually be done safely at home, with a reputable do-it-yourself windshield repair kit.