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Windscreen stone chip - the 'can it be fixed' rules


Shaun

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Recently in France, a passing lorry on the opposite carriageway kindly tossed a stonechip in our direction, its aim being so precise as to be seen inexorably heading straight for our windscreen. Upon impact, the noise was akin to the very loud crumpling of a tin can next to one's ears.

 

The stone chip itself was small - about 5 or 6 mm. However, there was then a crack line extending right and left of a few mm more. Back home and I read up what was likely to be repairable and what was not. Opinions differed from anything within a £2 coin being OK, down to only a £1 coin.

 

I measured our chip plus its small crack either side, and the total diameter was exactly that of a £1 coin. As the remainder of the windscreen was absolutely fine, I preferred at least an attempt at a repair rather than a whole replacement. I appreciate that sometimes the latter might be a good thing where an older screen has accumulated scratches over the years, but we had no such incentive.

 

Once I realised there was a £100 excess for a new windscreen, I definitely preferred the option of a fix. However, over the phone, Autoglass seemed to think this wouldn't be appropriate. Although not directly in the line of vision, the damage was within the area covered by the steering wheel (just) and it seemed too big to fix.

 

We had the choice of taking the van to a depot, or having a fitter come to the house. I'm not sure what the advantage of us going to them would have been, so it meant an appointment for a home visit a few days later.

 

When the fitter arrived, he brought with him the new screen which, depending on how cynical one is, could be seen as very efficient, or simply Autoglass's preference to make far more money from a replacment screen than dropping some goo into a stone chip.

 

It then transpired that what I'd read about whether a coin would fit over the damage was overly simplistic. The fitter had a template which was used to determine whether a given chip could be fixed or a new screen would be needed. Looking at the template, when the chip is within the area of the steering wheel (ie, the left/right extremes), the overall damage must fit within the size of a 5p piece. This critical area and maximum damage size, is down to MOT regulations, rather than arbitrary rules of Autoglass which could commercially favour them.

 

I'd often read about 'line of vision' being the MOT criteria, ie, the damage should not be within it. This is somewhat vague, given that a driver's direct and peripheral areas of vision overlap, and pretty much cover the full extent of the windscreen. However, it seems the area of windscreen directly above the steering wheel is the line of vision which is covered by MOT rules.

 

Beyond that critical MOT failure area and one might imagine that rules are more relaxed and that perhaps it's here where people can get their £1 and £2 coins out, then argue which is most appropriate when it comes to fix or replace. Again, not so. The sweep of the windscreen wipers then comes into play, and it's here the damage has to be limited to the diameter of a £1 coin.

 

So, beyond the critical area above the steering wheel, followed by the wiper sweep, what's left (which isn't much) could mean a stone chip could extend to the diameter of a £2 coin.

 

Our new screen was fitted in about half an hour, but the fitter had to wait for a colleague to join him, because the Ducato's screen was too heavy to replace by one person. A good few minutes was dilligently spent wiping all marks of the new windscreen before being fitted, then there was more time afterwards refitting our various stickers, tax disc and alarm sensor.

 

The bonnet was also removed and replaced as part of the process (yeah, I'll realign that myself when I get around to it).

 

The bill to the insurance company was £829.32 including VAT (less our £100 excess).

 

Shaun

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Hi,

 

What you have been told by the fitter appears to be at odds with the MOT testers manual which is at:

 

http://www.motuk.co.uk/manual_830.htm

 

I read that as the area damage can be no more than 10mm to pass an MOT and that a repair can be any size as long as it does not interfere with the drivers vision and that is at the discretion of the tester.

 

'Repaired windscreens

Repaired windscreens must be inspected to the same test criteria as original unrepaired windscreens. Repairs must be Judged solely on the basis of whether they interfere with vision. An 'invisible' or barely detectable repair, finished flush with the surrounding glass, does not count as damage even if it exceeds the limit on damage allowed in the test If these criteria are met, the position and size of repairs is not relevant for the purposes of the test.'

 

Perhaps I have read something wrong.

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I had one about the same size slightly to the left of my direct line of vision looking forward and the Autoglas people on the telephone tried to persuade me that a new screen was needed. I said that I wasn't interested as I was about to sell the vehicle but said that I would speak to my insurance company. He then started backtracking and offered to get somebody to look at the damage while my vehicle was parked on the drive.

 

From there things went very smoothly. The fitter arrived, said no problem with a few caveats explaining that sometimes repairs can go wrong and completed the job in about 40 minutes. I was very pleased with the end result.

 

Some might conclude that Autoglas routinely adopt this tactic as there is far more profit in replacing screens but I would not offer an opinion either way.

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Be warned, not all chips are repairable regardless of size or location.

 

Our romahome windscreen got chipped on the very extreme edge of the area swept by the wipers. Autoglass fitter measured it and said it was within the size for repairing but as it was on a part where the windscreen curves the repair might not work. He had a go and although the resin penetrated the chip it did not go completely in. The fitter said that although the resin had sealed the chip to the elements it was not satisfactory and there would be no charge. He gave me 2 options, to live with it or have new windscreen. I have lived with it for 12 months it has not got any worse and it has passed an MOT. I will have a new windscreen when any further damage warrants it. Perhaps I was lucky with my fitter although he was one of my former pupils when I was teaching.

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It's the obvious and cynical conclusion, isn't it? However, you would have thought insurance companies would be wise to automatic replacement, yet mine (Safeguard) didn't invervene and just agreed to whatever Autoglass recommended.

 

I'd also have thought that if one national glass fitter adopted the more costly option (by tending to replace rather than repair) that would leave others, typically, Auto Windscreens, as the insurers' choice, should they tend to repair wherever possible.

 

Perhaps the whole windscreen issue has a general consensus amongst insurers that it's not just about passing or failing MOTs, but to put the insured back in the position he/she was prior to being stonechipped.

 

Shaun

 

 

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This 'area of vision' could be a whole contentious thread on its own. As has been said, the final arbiter is the guy who does the MOT on the vehicle. If I was in the least bit of doubt, I would plump for the new screen.

 

I have this opinion because my MOT tester pointed out that my reversing camera position falls foul of the MOT criteria. It is dashboard mounted and very close to the tray above the glovebox on my Ducato. In my opinion, it is nowhere near the line of vision but rules is rules, as they say. He did say that if it was removed at the time of the next MOT, then things would be fine. If I happened to fit it after the MOT then that was up to me.

 

My point is that you could fail your MOT and still have to have a new windscreen fitted in order to get a pass.

 

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Shaun - 2010-08-22 12:11 PM

 

It's the obvious and cynical conclusion, isn't it? However, you would have thought insurance companies would be wise to automatic replacement, yet mine (Safeguard) didn't invervene and just agreed to whatever Autoglass recommended.

 

I'd also have thought that if one national glass fitter adopted the more costly option (by tending to replace rather than repair) that would leave others, typically, Auto Windscreens, as the insurers' choice, should they tend to repair wherever possible.

 

Perhaps the whole windscreen issue has a general consensus amongst insurers that it's not just about passing or failing MOTs, but to put the insured back in the position he/she was prior to being stonechipped.

 

Shaun

 

 

 

Maybe there's a third possible explanation; more likely in my view:

 

Insurers can't be bothered to question such charges, because, relative to the cost of all the other policy claims, they are actually low, and not too common.

 

And all they have to do is put up all customers premiums the following year to recoup anything paid out.

 

Shares in Autoglass anyone?

>:-(

 

 

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