The Tale of the Mysterious Crack in the Windshield

Do you have customers who forget where they got that mysterious crack in their windshield? Well, maybe it wasn’t supposed to get that bad or even happen in the first place. Windshields are pretty resilient; a rock-chip on your windshield 9 times out of 10 won’t immediately cause a significant crack-out to occur. Hopefully, not to the point of needing to have your windshield replaced. However, if left unrepaired, the chances of an eventual crack-out greatly increases.

We recently serviced a Toyota Prius that had a rock chip. Once we started working, the chip turned into a crack. We watched run the length of the windshield, and there was nothing we could do to stop it. We’d never seen anything like this before in our collective 50+ years of repairing windshields.

So, that got us thinking… we did a search and found many people complaining about this very issue, more specifically in the Toyota Prius and a few Subaru models, and some of these folks were able to get warranty replacements.  Typically, windshields are not covered under warranty. But in fact, a class action lawsuit against Subaru of America Inc. was filed in early June 2017 in the Northern District of California. The suit is claiming the windshields of 2015 through 2016 Subaru Outback and Legacy vehicles “contain one or more design and/or manufacturing defects that cause the windshield to crack, chip and/or fracture.”

What We Think

We want to touch on the issue and pose some helpful thoughts on how you can deal with potential crack-outs IF you see a small crack or chip. Hopefully, avoiding the need for your customer to get a windshield replacement. Now, depending on the customer’s specific vehicle model and year, there could be other factors or significant issues regarding a spontaneous crack-out. There is not much you can do about that. But, if a customer has a crack or chip in their windshield – regardless if they know for a fact, it was caused by a something hitting their car. There are a couple of things we’d advise you to do:

  1. Warranty and Insurance – Have the customer look up their warranty and insurance. What does the warranty say about windshield repair or replacement? Their insurance?
  2. Repair Consultation – Perform a consultation on the vehicle and see if you should try and stop the damage from spreading. If you feel you can stop the damage, then proceed as usual with your repairs. Unfortunately – though rare – crack-outs do happen, and that’s just the nature of the job. If you’re unsure about repairing the damage, you can go a step further, and…
  3. Research the Model – You’ll want to see if there is potential for manufacturer error. Go on the internet and do a search or give a dealership a call. This could help uncover who is liable for dishing out the dough for repairs or replacement.
  4. Set Expectations with a Disclaimer. Be sure to set the expectations in advance with the customer. Let them know the best and worst-case scenario. This is especially important when working on windshields. Especially windshields with more than one area of damage or known issues that may reduce the chances of a successful repair.

This is the same advice we give to all technicians who have a customer with a rock-chip or small crack damage on their windshield. Repair can – 99% of the time – stop the crack or chip from spreading and improve the cosmetic appearance of the damage by 80% or more.

Let us know if you have any further questions or thoughts on the subject, and we’ll do our best to answer them.

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