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Modern windscreens are used as a sophisticated display for vehicle information such as speed and satellite navigation. Picture: SUPPLIED
Modern windscreens are used as a sophisticated display for vehicle information such as speed and satellite navigation. Picture: SUPPLIED

Modern windscreens offer more than just protection from the elements. They are a critical safety device that forms part of the structure of the vehicle. When incorrect glass is used or the windscreen is fitted badly, it weakens the structure of the vehicle, which poses a danger to occupants and pedestrians in the case of ordinary operation and an accident.

In a recent incident, a rebuilder based in Bela Bela and accredited with the SA Motor Body Repairers Association (Sambra) related how an insurance-approved service provider dispatched from 200km away arrived with a cracked and incorrect windscreen, and minus the necessary Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) stripes and dots.

The fitters applied superglue on the screen to prevent any further cracks and it was evident the ADAS sensor from the old windscreen was removed and glued to the “new” windscreen, and the area was painted to avoid detection.

When an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) windscreen is purchased/fitted, the windscreen is mostly supplied with the sensors already fitted and calibrated by the manufacturers. Immediately after the fitment, popup warning lights start showing on the cluster. A dealer would need to recalibrate these.

The repairer said that as a business that valued quality and professionalism, those shortcomings were completely unacceptable. Fitters require proper training on the dangers of incorrect fitment and the use of substandard glass.

Another danger the repairer warned of was an insurer and client electing to settle the claim in “cash in lieu” — where a company exercises the option of giving the insured client cash for repairs.

“We are seeing a trend where insurers are offering clients less cash in lieu than what it would cost to independently repair the vehicle,” the repairer said. “This results in motorists unwittingly going to a cheaper fitment operator or selecting substandard glass to suit the budget. This practice needs to be closely looked at by the SA Insurance Association (SAIA),” the repairer said.

The windscreen protects occupants from the elements and unforeseen dangers such as rocks. Picture: SUPPLIED
The windscreen protects occupants from the elements and unforeseen dangers such as rocks. Picture: SUPPLIED

Sambra tips for the safe fitting of windscreens

• Use reputable glass fitment experts. Your dealer or Sambra motor body repair expert can also advise.

Glass needs to fit the structure of the vehicle correctly and properly.

It’s not always the case that ADAS sensors/sensor mounting brackets are already attached to the windscreen. There are many versions and variations. Check with an expert before the glass is installed.

If you are considering cash in lieu from your insurer, first do your homework before you accept the offer. You will be liable for both the glass and the fitment, which can be costly.

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