“Seattle Kisses” On Your Windshield
Anyone who has been driving in the Pacific Northwest for more than a few months is bound to have one or two “Seattle Kisses” or stars decorating their windshield. Puget sound driving conditions make them practically inevitable.
WSDOT‘s use of sand and gravel as a winter traction aid is much better than salt or other harsh methods. Northwest drivers can be proud of the way their vehicles last compared to those in the Midwest where the roads are salted in the winter, it seems like the cars themselves literally melt over the years due to the corrosion from road salt.
The problem with gravel is that WSDOT hasn’t been able to hire elves to sweep it up after the snow and ice melts. Most of it winds up along the side of the road. Of course a lot of it gets flung into the air, in front of cars speeding along the road. That the explosive WHACK when a piece hits a windshield may be heart stopping, but is rather common.
Automotive glass is incredibly tough stuff, so a rock hit will usually only leave a chip. In fact, many times, if the chip is in an out of the way spot car owners will simply ignore it. This may not be a good idea. The windshield is an important structural component in modern automobile construction. If it is weakened by a chip, catastrophic failure could occur in an accident. Yes, the windshield is probably going to get broken in an accident anyway, but before it does, it plays a role in protecting the vehicle occupants.
The reason “Seattle Kisses” tend to be ignored is that they used to mean that the windshield was doomed and had to be replaced. Windshield replacement is kind of like coronary bypass surgery- for those who do it the process is pretty much routine, but if it is your chest (or windshield) it is a big deal!
Fortunately, thanks to the miracle of modern chemistry, most chips and even many cracks can be repaired. There are even repair kits that you can use at home. (Personally, I try to take care of my heart, but I wouldn’t attempt my own bypass; I feel the same way about windshield repair kits.)
The method used to make the repairs, whether done by a professional shop or a kit from the part store, work pretty much the same way. First the windshield and the crack are cleaned and then a resin adhesive is applied. A syringe-like tool is used to both draw the air from the crack and force the resin into it. This usually only takes a few minutes, and the resin should cure within a few hours (sunlight may be necessary for the curing process).
The biggest difference between home repair kits and a professional job is the experience of the technicians and the quality of their tools. The tools in the kits are pretty flimsy because they are intended to be used once and thrown away. Higher quality shop tools, along with the technician’s greater experience allow them to do a better, more consistent repair job.
Windshield repair will not work in every case. The good news is that most car insurance policies have specific coverage for windshields, and it is becoming more common for the insurer to waive the deductible in cases when the windshield can be repaired rather than replaced.
If your windshield picks up a Seattle Kiss, bring it to Associated Glass sooner than later!