It’s easy to forget that your vehicle’s windshield doesn’t only prevent insects from splattering into your face while you drive. It also plays an important role in keeping you safe, absorbing force and helping to maintain the cabin’s structural integrity in a collision.
Windshields are thus made of very strong glass. But that glass can still be damaged—by hail, stones kicked up from the road, and other projectiles—and even a seemingly minor chip can become a safety risk down the road. Add to that the fact that many modern windshields are also equipped with high-tech sensors, and it’s clear that repairing a windshield is always preferable to replacing it.
“It’s a really easy investment to make in your vehicle,” says Jamie Goddard of GlassMasters Autoglass, when talking about the quick and inexpensive repair work that his team performs every day.
“Even with a very small chip, if you don’t do anything about it there’s a good chance that moisture will penetrate it and over time the glass will crack,” he says. “That compromises that integrity of your vehicle—and if you’re in a collision, your safety.”
A standard chip repair sees a technician inspect and clean any debris from the chip, and then inject it with a special resin. When cured using an ultraviolet light, the resin hardens and seals the glass. The process typically takes less than 30 minutes, but it provides peace of mind for much longer: Filling a chip means guarding against an irreparable crack—and the much costlier expense of replacing your windshield.
But sometimes replacement is unavoidable. Nowadays, it can also be more complex. That’s because many windshields are no longer just big panes of glass: They incorporate cameras, lasers and other sensors that are critical to the proper functioning of advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS), such as lane-departure warning and forward-collision alert features.
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“If your car has ADAS and needs a new windshield installed, then it also needs to have the camera recalibrated to make sure it’ll work to the original manufacturer’s specifications,” Goddard says.
For this, GlassMasters locations are now equipped with specialized tools, operated by trained technicians, which connect with most vehicles’ computers to optimize sensor alignment. (GlassMasters also offers a mobile replacement service for non-ADAS windshields—in Edmonton, Calgary and Red Deer.)
By next year, it’s estimated that almost half of all new automobile windshields will include ADAS sensors. That means millions of cars, trucks and SUVs that are significantly safer than those that came before—provided, of course, that their windshields remain free of cracks and properly calibrated.
HOW TO SAVE
AMA Premier and Premier RV members get one free windshield chip repair per membership year, only at GlassMasters Autoglass locations, and also save 50% on all additional chip repairs. Basic and Plus members save 50% on their first chip repair. All AMA members earn 5% in reward dollars (up to $150 in reward dollars) on windshield and tempered glass installation.