Vehicle Repair

Need help? Here's how to fix your chipped, cracked, or shattered windshield

Chipped, cracked, and shattered windshields are a problem that need to be addressed as soon as possible.

Photo by Getty Images

Chipped. Cracked. Shattered. Whatever the ailment, it's likely that at some time during the life of your vehicle, you will have to change out its windshied. Here's what to do if your windscreen suddenly needs to be replaced.

Contact your insurance company. Have photos of the damage ready and your story straight. Often, your insurance company will authorize a repair without any cost to you or waive the deductable if you opt for a chip repair, which costs them less than replacing an entire windshield. Insurance companies will likely have a preferred vender for a repair, and it might not be your dealership.

Will your insurance cover it? When looking for an automotive glass installer, call your insurance company for a recommendation. At the same time, inquire about making a claim for the repair. They usually treat a glass repair claim differently than other comprehensive claims. A different deductable usually apply in this situation.

Move quickly. If you just have a small chip, it can usually be easily repaired and you won't have to replace the entire windshield. However, you need to act quickly to prevent the chip from turning into a crack or worse.

Auto Glass Replacement There's a lot to consider when you think you need to have your windshield replaced. Photo by Getty Images

Not all windshields are created equal. If you do not get a chip repaired in time and the crack spreads, you will need a replacement windshield. You may think that all replacement windshields are the same, but they are far from it. Calling around, you might find a replacement windshield for only $150, including installation. A call to another automotive glass specialist reveals that company charges $375, including installation.

What is the difference?

There are numerous types of replacement windshields on the market but they aren't all good quality. Some are thin while others are thick. Some may not contain the tinting you are used to or distort your view.

Find the right replacement. When you contact a glass installer, ask for a price of OEM (original equipment manufacturer) DOT replacement glass. To obtain a U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) certification, the glass must pass strict quality standards.

Automakers have specifications regarding the shape, size, and thickness of the windshields in their vehicles when the car is originally produced. Most new cars and trucks use laminated, acoustic glass. An acoustic glass windshield has an layer of soundproofing insulation between the two layers of glass. Replacing any of your glass with standard glass, which is not laminated, will make your previously quiet vehicle more susceptible to wind and road noise.

Is it safe? According to the Auto Glass Safety Council, the windshield provides significant structural support strength to the cabin of the vehicle. According to their research, in the event of a front end collision, a windshield provides up to 45 percent of the structural integrity of the cabin of the vehicle. During a rollover crash, the amount increases to 60 percent. It is not an exaggeration to say that choosing the right windshield could be the difference between life and death.

Make sure the job is done right the first time. To ensure that your windshield is being replaced by a certified technician who knows what they are doing, ask if the shop/operation is AGRSS (Automotive Glass Replacement Safety Standards) certified. To obtain this accrediation, a repair shop and its installers must have specialized training and the equipment to perform a professional replacement.

Get schooled on the stipulations of your service. It there a warranty? Even great shops make a mistake sometimes. A warranty may ensure that you will not have to pay again for something that should have been done right the first time.

Not all replacement windshields are the same. Using this information to choose the right installer and the right parts can ensure that you get the quality replacement you need to keep you safe on the road.

The all-wheel drive system of the 2020 Toyota Camry was put to the test in Park City, Utah in early February by the AutomotiveMap team.

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc.

Toyota introduced its first all-wheel drive Camry in decades this year. They have made all-wheel drive an option for the 2020 Toyota Camry LE, SE, XLE, and XSE. Pricing has not yet been announced but will be revealed before the models go on sale later this year.

The 2020 Camry, along with the 2021 Toyota Avalon, has dynamic torque control all-wheel drive.

Mechanically this means that the car has two axles that each attach to two wheels. The axles are connected by a drive shaft.

2020 Toyota Camry Park City Utah course When wheels start slipping, the car's all-wheel drive system kicks in.Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc.

At the intersection of the front axle and drive shaft is the transmission and a single speed transfer case. The transfer case is a mechanical device that transfers power from the transmission to the front and rear axles via the drive shaft.

At the intersection of the drive shaft and the rear axle, there is a differential. The differential is a set of gears that allows the car's wheels to revolve at different speeds.

On the drive shaft, between the differential and intersection of the drive shaft and transfer case is a coupler. The coupler doesn't sit in the middle, but rather about two-thirds of the way back toward the differential. The coupler is there to provide a mechanical backup in case one of the sets of wheels in the vehicle starts to slip. When this happens, the coupler applies additional torque to the non-slipping wheels in an effort to keep the car going in the direction the driver intended rather than the direction the skid is trying to force the car to go.

2020 Toyota Camry Park City Utah course The Camry has part-time all-wheel drive allowing drivers to take advantage of the technology as needed.Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc.

In some vehicles, torque can be delivered to one, two, three, or all four wheels to varying degrees depending on what the road conditions require. In the Camry, the torque can only be delivered in equal amounts to both rear wheels.

Not all all-wheel drive systems operate all of the time. The ones that don't are called part-time all-wheel drive systems. This allows the driver to receive the benefits of an all-wheel drive system as well as the fuel efficiency that comes with front- or rear-wheel drive when the conditions are right.

2020 Toyota Camry Park City Utah course When traction is lost in either the front or back, Toyota's all-wheel drive system applies more torque to the wheels with traction to keep the car driving in the right direction.Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc.

In the Camry's case, when the all-wheel drive system is not enabled, the car runs as a front-wheel drive model. This is the same as Camrys not equipped with all-wheel drive.

Consumer Reports' annual survey has concluded that most new cars aren't as reliable as older models.

Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

Consumer Reports has released the results from its Annual Auto Reliability Survey. According to its survey, nearly half of new and redesigned 2019 models have below-average predicted reliability. The most reliable are those that are near the end of their generational run.

Why? Simply put, it takes manufacturers a few years to work out all the engineering and production kinks to get a new model where it needs to be to be considered reliable.

Here's how Consumer Reports calculates reliability:

Every year, CR asks its members about problems they've had with their cars, minivans, SUVs, and trucks in the previous 12 months. This year we gathered data on 420,000 vehicles, spanning the 2000 to 2019 model years. Members reported on problems in any of 17 trouble areas, including engine, transmission, in-car electronics, and more. We use that data to calculate reliability ratings for every major mainstream vehicle.

The predicted reliability for the 2020 models on is based on each model's overall reliability for the past three years. We do this for redesigned models by analyzing the brand's reliability history, the previous generation's reliability, and if applicable, the reliability of models the vehicle shares components with. These are our predictions, and reliability can change if the automaker resolves problems or creates new ones by freshening the model.

How do you know if the model you're buying is reliable? Besides checking ratings from trusted institutions like Consumer Reports and JD Power, you can use some basic buying advice:

  • Expect that there will be recalls. Check out the recall history of the models you're shopping. New models likely don't have many recalls at first, but their recall history builds as they age.
  • Search forums looking for common service issues that seem to keep arising. If a certain vehicle is known for having a recurring issue, it may be best to skip it. At the very least, you'll be better informed about what you're getting yourself into.
  • Small hiccups are normal when a model is introduced. Realize that automakers and their parts suppliers generally take two to three years to get production and parts manufacturing down to a science, especially if the model is "all new" and doesn't have many/any carryover parts from the previous generation.
  • Remember, many technology issues can be solved by over-the-air updates or quick dealership visits. Do not hesitate to call a dealer and ask if these are included with your purchase.
  • The production process and level of attention given to each model can dictate what the quality of the product is. The 2018 Tesla Model 3 has had numerous issues arise including cracks in the rear window glass, loose trim, and paint defects. However, many of these issues had been resolved by the 2019 model year.
  • When buying used car, be sure a licensed mechanic has given the car a thorough once-over and is able to tell you where the wear patters are in the vehicle and if they're appropriate for the vehicle's age. Buying a Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) vehicle can help alleviate some of the concern in this area.

Most importantly, don't just take one source's opinion as gospel.