TV's 20/20 Airs Segment
The popular TV newsmagazine 20/20
aired a segment on windshield installation safety Friday, February 25,
and the auto glass industry finally saw the "safety issue" of windshield
replacement get some national exposure. The show was done in a 'consumer
awareness' tone, with on-air personality Arnold Diaz, who started with
the fact that windshield replacement is 'complicated' and auto glass
installers do not have to be licensed or certified.
The segment said experts have
claimed that millions of windshield replacements have been installed
improperly. The story stressed that the windshield is an important
vehicle component, perhaps saving your life in the event of an accident.
Video of crash and rollover tests, as well as an air bag detonation, was
shown to demonstrate the key role of the windshield.
The tragic and up-close human toll,
reportedly the result of a bad windshield replacement, was an interview
with a woman whose neck was broken in an auto accident. Her vehicle had
rolled over, the glass popped out, and the roof crushed in, rendering
her a paraplegic. The vehicles' windshield had been replaced four years
previously by a local glass shop. The woman's family settled for 2
million dollars after suing the replacement shop. The woman's' husband
said the company forgot to use a secondary primer, causing the sealant
not to harden.
After hearing from auto glass
experts that windshields are often replaced improperly due to installers
being "sloppy" or "not being trained well enough", 20/20 showed
windshield replacements by three different shops, in three different
cities, all mobile installations.
Hidden cameras taped two
installers from American Mobile Glass, of New Jersey, replacing a
windshield, and setting the glass with their bare hands. Generally
accepted industry procedure is to wear gloves to prevent any oils
from the hands 'contaminating' the windshield and causing the
sealant not to adhere. When confronted with this fact, one of the
installers proceeded to 'demonstrate' the technique of carrying the
glass by the edges to prevent such contact.
Footage also revealed that no primer appeared to be applied to
the glass. One installer claimed that usually the windshields are
primed before they head out to the job, and when his partner was
asked he claimed to have primed it right before it was installed.
The following day 20/20 had the windshield removed and claimed
the urethane easily came loose, indicating little or no use of
One of the installers claimed
that the installation just witnessed was a 'bad example' and they
had been 'real busy' and just 'slammed down 12 jobs'. The company
commented that the installers are certified and regularly trained.
The second installation took place in
Spokane, Washington, where a Safelite Autoglass installer was filmed
cleaning the windshield with only a rag, and not any cleaning agent. The
company terminated the installer, and told 20/20 that it was an
'isolated incident' and that the mistakes did not necessarily pose a
After an installation by Diamond
Triumph in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the "customer" said the technician
told him, that after he "slapped on the glue" and put the windshield in,
the vehicle was ready to go. Confronted with his purported statements,
the installer denied it, saying the car should 'probably sit for a
while', later clarifying the time as "a couple of hours". A graphic from
sealant manufacturer Essex showed ten hours on their safe drive-a-way
chart for U-418. The company claimed that 20/20 cameras caused their
installer to be nervous and give erroneous information.
For expert opinion on the story,
20/20 consulted with Mitch Becker, of ABRA Auto Glass & Body, and Steve
Coyle of the Performance Achievement Group, a leading auto glass
At the close of the segment,
Barbara Walters asked Arnold Diaz just what consumers can do to "get the
right kind of treatment for their windshield?" Mr. Diaz responded that
experts say they might want to ask if they are certified by the National
Glass Association. He commented that although that doesn't give a
guarantee, it does give the consumer a better chance. Diaz recommended
that they also ask the installer, and not just the shop, about being
Ms. Walters also asked about
consumers checking with their insurance agent for a recommendation for a
shop. Mr. Diaz responded that "that could be a problem", as sometimes
insured's are steered to a place that is cheaper, and that could mean
Windshield: A FOX Undercover Investigation
This Fox Undercover investigation is one every driver must
see, because thousands of you may be driving around with a
potential danger right in front of your eyes.
Thousands of shattered windshields are replaced every year in
But there is a problem.
And chances are, it's happened to you. You get a crack in your
windshield and you call a glass company to replace it.
Here in Massachusetts, about 350,000 windshields are replaced
every year. And although it is a complicated job that requires
skill and training, installers do not have to be licensed or
certified. And experts say those installers are making mistakes.
Mistakes you may never know about until it is too late.
Jeanne Fransway was just 25 years-old when her car veered off a
Wisconsin road two years ago.
911 Call: There is a really bad accident down the road.
There is a car rolled and another smashed up and it looks pretty
Witnesses calling 911 could not find her inside the vehicle.
911 Call: The car is in a ditch and I do not know where
the person is, but there is a shoe in the middle of the road. I
do not see a passenger.
Jeanne's body was found 70 feet away lying on top of the
windshield which had popped out as her car rolled over.
Jon Fransway: It is hard because we were all there when
she died. So no matter about all the good times that you can
think of, you know, there is still a lot of pain.
Experts believe the windshield in Jeanne's car was not properly
Mitch Becker: What you see is the adhesive that holds the
windshield in place and you can see where it just lets go. It is
not the adhesive that had a problem. It is the whole
installation process and the way the person used it failed.
In crash tests, you can see how the windshield will keep you
inside a car. When properly installed, the windshield will
deflect the airbag and keep the roof from caving in on you.
But if the glass pops out, you can be thrown from the car —
which greatly increases your chance of dying.
Experts tell Fox Undercover that windshields are often replaced
improperly because many installers are either sloppy or have not
been trained well enough. So we decided to find out for
ourselves how area glass companies stack up when it comes to
looking out for your safety.
Fox Undercover took three cars and had their windshield replaced
by three different glass companies. Time after time, we found
examples of what could be a deadly problem.
We watched as the installer from Executive Auto Glass gets down
to business. He has no idea that one of his customers is Vincent
Salluzzo — president of National Associates for Safe Auto Glass
Salluzzo said he spotted several significant mistakes.
Salluzzo: I do not think you can do it properly outdoors,
anything below 40 degrees.
Salluzzo says it is especially risky when it is below 40
degrees. When it is cold outside, it takes longer for the
adhesive to dry. And when the adhesive is not dry, your
windshield is not secure.
The installer should be using a more expensive two-part glue
that dries faster. But he was not, despite a warning from the
manufacturer not to use the type of glue he was using in
temperatures below 40 degrees.
Salluzzo: When they do it outdoors, in cold weather,
using the wrong adhesive compromises safety.
And he did not remove the cowl — the panel between the hood and
the windshield. It is a short cut Salluzzo says could cost you
Salluzzo: By having to slide it under the cowl, the
urethane hits the edge and you do not get the surface bond like
you would if you set it down.
The installer told us our car would be safe to drive in one
hour. But two hours later, Salluzzo pressed on the glass and
there was the windshield.
Mike Beaudet: Is this windshield safe?
Salluzzo: Absolutely not. It is inconceivable to even
describe it as safe. This car will not be safe to drive in
probably a week, 10 days, two weeks or who knows when.
The president of Executive Auto Glass agreed to talk to Fox
Undercover about what happened. But then backed out.
In a faxed statement, he said: The technician profiled on Fox
did not follow proper installation procedures. We have zero
tolerance for any errors of this kind. As a result, this person
has been terminated.
The installer from Giant Glass replaced our windshield in less
than 20 minutes.
Salluzzo: If speed is what counts, the guy was the best.
World class. But I do not think speed is what counts.
What counts is safety. It was 35 degrees outside and the
installer used the wrong kind of glue. And because he did not
remove the cowl, he had to jam the windshield inside. And that
means it is not as secure as it should be.
The installer told us our car would be safe to drive as soon as
he finished the job. And that the car would be okay, as long as
we did not go through a car wash in the next two days.
Salluzzo: In a rollover, there is no question the roof
would have crushed, had the airbag gone off it would have gone
off across the street. We can virtually lift it off the car at
Beaudet: Did this guy cut corners?
Salluzzo: Oh, absolutely. Nobody should be driving this
Beaudet: Would you want to be driving this car?
Salluzzo: No, nobody should be driving this car.
In a faxed statement to Fox Undercover, the general manager for
Giant Glass tells us that they have never had an instance or
problem of liability related to one of their installations. He
goes on to say that OEM glass and high quality adhesive systems
were used in the installation.
And the company has taken the opportunity to redouble their
training efforts and reinforce to their employees that it is
imperative to make sure they complete quality work.
Our last windshield was replaced by an installer who works for
Settles Glass. Like the others, he did not remove the cowl. But
he taped it up so it was out of the way.
Salluzzo: This installer, I thought, was pretty
conscientious. I thought he did the very best he could under the
conditions he had to work under. One of the first things he did
was warn us not to drive the car for an hour and 15 minutes.
But that warning is wrong. While the adhesive that was used is
supposed to dry in cold temperatures, the manufacturer says the
car is not safe to drive for at least two hours.
Fox Undercover repeatedly asked Settles for an on-camera
interview, but no one returned our calls.
Beaudet: Overall, how would you characterize the job
these companies did?
Salluzzo: None of these cars are safe to drive. It is as
simple as that.
And Salluzzo says the glass companies are not the only ones to
blame. He says the real culprits are the insurance companies
that do not want to pay glass companies to do the job right.
Beaudet: What is the message to the insurance companies?
Salluzzo: Wake up. You are playing with lives and not
The Automobile Insurers Bureau of Massachusetts did not want to
comment on our investigation. And neither did the Massachusetts
Glass Dealers Association.
If you are wondering what you can do to make sure your
windshield is replaced properly, there are some steps you can
Our expert says if you need to get your windshield replaced in
the winter, you should have it done indoors. Insist that a
strong adhesive be used to bond the glass.
Make sure the installer removes the cowl before replacing the
Do not drive your car until the adhesive has fully dried. Check
with the manufacturer of the adhesive to find out when your
vehicle will be safe to drive.
And do not let your insurance company steer you in the wrong
direction. It may recommend a place that cuts corners and that
could cost you your life.