What’s Up With That Crazy Windshield?

Your windshield—it’s the thing you take for granted, probably almost every day. You might check your oil, or your antifreeze, or your tire pressure before you head out for a trip, but how many of us even think about our windshields, aside from cleaning off the bug goo? Well, the team at Block & Olson thinks it’s time you give your windshield the credit that it deserves. So here’s some cool knowledge about that stuff in front of your face when you’re driving, the stuff specifically designed for you to overlook.

Your Airbag Needs It

When most of us consider the safety benefits of our windshields, we think about it keeping rocks and bugs and weather from smacking us in the noggin while we drive. Sure, it does that, but it’s also an integral part of most modern automobiles’ crash safety systems. Passenger airbags, for example, often use the windshield as a sort of launching pad when inflating. Think of the little starting blocks Olympic runners push off of to start their races. Without the windshield behind it, the airbag ignition canister might not have as much leverage, and the bag might not inflate properly. Other systems use the windshield as a backboard to rebound the airbag toward the passenger. Passenger airbags often release from the dashboard. Consequently, they inflate upward, and let the windshield bounce them horizontally toward the rider. So it’s likely that your airbag depends pretty heavily on the windshield being properly installed and of reliable quality. That’s why you want experienced techs working on your car, installing the best stuff there is.

If It’s Cracked or Chipped, It Won’t Just Cave in or Shatter

We’ve been in the game a long time, and a lot of people seem to worry about the cracks in their windshields making the glass collapse while they’re driving, or rocks blasting through their windshields into their seats. Now, in particularly gnarly situations, those things aren’t out of the realm of possibility, but we’ve been in business for almost 70 years and we can tell you, it’s extremely rare. We once put a windshield in a car that was sat on by a horse. The window was broken pretty badly, but it was not even close to caving in. The fact is, windshields are incredibly strong. Modern windshields are made of 2 layers of heat strengthened glass, sandwiched together with a sheet of extremely tough vinyl. Rarely do rocks make it through the first layer of glass, and almost never into the vinyl. Heck, we have a hard time breaking them to fit in our dumpster. Now none of this should be taken as an excuse to drive around with that crummy, busted windshield in your car. It obstructs your vision, and you can definitely be ticketed for it. So get it fixed, but don’t worry about it flopping on your lap on the freeway in the meantime.

It’s Good For Your Skin

What? How in the heck-sticks is a windshield good for your skin? We’ll tell you. Not only the glass, but the vinyl in between it, these days, is treated with UV protectant. Some of us spend hours and hours in our cars every day, and imagine if the sun was baking malevolently through the glass and blistering your skin the whole time. No thanks. Imagine how much sunscreen you’d go through in the summer. But no! The glass in your car helps keep that nasty, burning jerk from boiling our epidermises—or maybe it’s epidermi. Anyway, want to check our facts (friends who wear transitions glasses will know what we’re talking about)? Find a friend who wears prescription glasses that turn to sunglasses outside. Take them for a ride in your car and watch their glasses. The don’t change! That’s because the material in the prescription glasses uses UV rays to darken. Thanks to your car windows, there’s no—or at least very, very few—UV rays bouncing around in your car. Amazing!

It Might Be Why Your Insurance Costs So Much

Windshield repair and replacement are by far the most frequent insurance claims for auto insurers. At Block & Olson, we replace and repair a ton of car windows every year, and almost all of them are insurance jobs. Rock chip repairs are so commonly reported that most insurance brokers don’t charge at all for the claims. That means you can usually get your rock chips repaired for free. For replacements, you’ll have to foot the deductible, but in many cases, that deductible is less than your collision or comprehensive deductible. If you have a claim or any questions about one, get your insurance folks on the phone and they’ll help you out—or call us up, we’re pretty savvy too. If you do call your insurance company, tell them Block & Olson is your shop! (Hey, it’s our blog, don’t you expect us to self-promote sometimes?)

The Weirdest Fact of All

In many states, you’re not required by law to have a windshield. Yup. It’s a throwback to the days when auto windshields were a luxury, when only the rich could afford cars and only the richest of them could spring for glass to keep the wind from their faces. Now before you go taking the glass out of your car and blasting around the town, you should check your state and local laws, because we’re not lawyers or legislators or cops. But a lot of our classic car clients drive their old hot rods in for custom glass without the windshields. Still, they are required to wear safety goggles. So goggle up! And here’s the weirdest caveat of the weirdest fact today: whether or not you have a windshield, if your car came with them from the factory, you are required by law to have windshield wipers. What?! Yes, even if you don’t have a windshield in your car, you’ve got to have those wipers. Wacky.

So next time you make the rounds about your car, checking the oil and kicking the tires, remember that humble windshield sitting there unnoticed, and probably gooped up with bugs. Remember all the amazing things it does for you while you stare through it every day. Poor, poor neglected windshield, we love you.

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