Spring HOME Improvement & CAR CARE
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Tiny cracks in a windshield can rapidly grow into big problems, advises Richard Picard.
“It can start with just a little chip on the edge, but it can spread across the entire windshield in 24 hours,” says the owner of Alexandria Auto Glass, the business he and his wife, Hélène, have operated since April 3, 1982.
Stones, ice and chunks of salt are just some of the substances that routinely bounce off, and damage, windscreens.
Large cracks can affect visibility and compromise the integrity of the windshield. There also may be another price to pay. If police catch you driving with a cracked windshield, you could be fined and given a prescribed time to get the windscreen repaired or replaced.
With 37 years of experience, Mr. Picard, also known as “Pic,” has seen his share of shattered and battered screens.
If a crack is tended to quickly, a repair job is all that is needed. But if a large fissure occurs, a replacement is the only route to go.
Mr. Picard learned the business through study and practice. While he followed a course at St. Lawrence College in 1979, “I learned most of this on the job,” he says.
At his shop on Kenyon Concession Road 1, Mr. Picard also does window tinting, installs vehicle accessories, truck caps and seat covers.
Flying glass is rare
While decades ago, windshields were made of ordinary window glass that shattered during collisions, a series of lawsuits led up to the development of stronger windshields.
Over the decades, lamination improved the safety and strength of the screens.
Modern, glued-in windshields contribute to the vehicle's rigidity.
In most cases, a cracked windshield will remain in one piece.
Today’s windshields are a safety device just like seat belts and airbags. The installation of the auto glass is done with an automotive grade urethane designed specifically for automobiles. The adhesive creates a molecular bond between the glass and the vehicle. If the adhesive bond fails at any point on the glass it can reduce the effectiveness of the air bag and substantially compromise the structural integrity of the roof.
Airbags deploy at speeds of up to 200 mph (320 km/h) and
in some cases exert tremendous force on the windshield. If the windshield is weak, the airbag will not work properly as the airbag may go forward through the screen and away from the people it is meant to protect.
SEALED: Richard Picard ensures the seal is tight after installing a cover on a truck cab at his Alexandria Auto Glass shop south of town.