Windscreen Technology: Not Just a Piece of Glass

Vehicle and windscreen technology is accelerating at an increasing rate including the use of glass as a structural component. Windscreen technology now bonds glass into place in a specific and controlled way, and becomes an integral element of the uni-body structure. This adds to the vehicle’s rigidity and strength so as with any structural component it’s important that Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) are used, rather than fake or non-branded after-market parts.  This is particularly important now that vehicle cameras and sensors are integrated into new windscreen technology.


New camera-based technology has improved safety – but many are unaware it requires special recalibration when windscreens are repaired.  ADAS is an industry term for the forward-facing camera technology that enables active-safety features like autonomous emergency braking, lane-departure warning and steering assistance on many modern cars. However, what’s not widely known is that when a windscreen is broken on an ADAS-equipped car, the system has to be recalibrated to ensure it’s operating correctly. This is because glass replacement involves removing the cameras/sensors and remounting them.  As a result specialist automotive glass repairers are investing in highly sophisticated re-calibration machines to speed up the replacement process and provide customers with surety.


Recalibration work can also be done at most franchise dealerships but having the same sophisticated equipment in-house means that glass specialists can offer a one stop shop service.  ADAS technology is a relatively new phenomenon  so not widespread in the NZ national vehicle fleet yet, though its growing fast within business fleets and will become commonplace over the next few years as the vehicles are upgraded and replaced.   ADAS is now essential for a top score in crash testing: 95 per cent of vehicles tested by EuroNcap in 2015 had some form of camera-based safety tech fitted.


There are three possible types of recalibration, depending on the vehicle:


“Static” recalibration requires a controlled environment with a levelled floor and is completed using specialist target boards.


“Dynamic” recalibration involves driving the vehicle with a hand-held device plugged in to the diagnostic port on the vehicle. Vehicle manufacturers can also specify  the types of roads that must be used, or the distance and speed travelled, to allow the system to confirm it has viewed and recognised certain road features.


Third is “combination” recalibration, where both a static and a dynamic test needs to be undertaken. Generally, the specification for which recalibration process is required is consistent within a vehicle manufacturers’ range of models: for example, Ford prescribes dynamic recalibration for all its models.


Crash Management handles windscreen and glass replacements for all clients and all insurance companies.  To ensure the safety and integrity of your vehicle, call 0800 2CRASH for instant response 24/7 for accident towing and collision repairs.  Be aware of the risks with new windscreen technology, and call Crash Management for windscreen placement too.

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    More developments on the increasing technological advances in motor vehicle windscreens, and the cost implications. A Major insurer has now scrapped free windscreen replacements, and others are about to follow. An industry expert says at least one insurance company is ending the age-old free glass cover written into car insurance policies. NZbrokers CEO Jo Mason says a major provider has dropped the excess-free replacement of glass from new policies.

    Mason’s comments follow the decision by the insurer Vero to cancel free windscreen replacements. Mason said free vehicle-glass replacement is a longstanding, accepted policy that’s in Kiwis’ DNA, but it now could trigger a $500 excess. She believes it’s because newer cars have such high-tech glass that it’s becoming too expensive to offer free replacements. “We have seen one example of an insurance claim for a new car replacement windscreen costing upwards of $15,000,” she said. “While we have seen extreme cases where windscreen repair claims can reach this level, it is rare as they are typically in the very latest models and vehicles retailing at more than $100,000. Mason says this is unfair, and leaves owners of older cars essentially having to shell out because others’ cars cost more to fix.

    “Putting this in perspective, the average age of the four million vehicles in New Zealand’s fleet is more than 14 years – and you can pick up a standard windscreen for an older model for less than $200,” she said there is concern that the policy could be taken up by other insurers in the near future. “Consumers need to make sure they speak to their broker and read the policy fine print when they next renew their insurance, and should consider shopping around for the best coverage package that suits them,” she said.

    Craig Pomare, chief executive of the Motor Trade Association (MTA), said he was concerned that if all companies start charging the policy excess for windscreen replacements, it could result in more people driving around with seriously damaged windscreens. “This poses some real safety risks in an accident as the windscreen is part of a vehicle’s structural integrity,” he said.
    “Any car with damage to the windscreen will fail a warrant so it is safer to replace it immediately rather than wait until the warrant is due.” The MTA is urging people whose insurance companies stop offering ‘free’ cover for glass to shop around. “This isn’t likely to happen quickly, so people should shop around when renewing their insurance,” Pomare said.

    A spokesperson for AA Insurance told the Herald that they currently have no plans to change their excess-free glass cover. “At AA Insurance, we provide our customers with excess-free glass cover as an optional benefit on our comprehensive and third party, fire and theft car insurance policies. Some customers choose not to take this option to help them save on their premium. Customers who do choose this option however, won’t need to pay an excess on claims that only relate to the accidental damage of their windscreen or windows. “We are here to look after our customers’ cars, no matter what the age, so currently have no plans to change our excess-free glass cover, or reduce cover as a response to changing technology in cars.”

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