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Autoglass Repair, Autoglass Replacement
Member Name: Nibelung
Advantages: Fast service with minimum 'down time' for your car.
Disadvantages: None, unless your insurance doesn't cover it!
I've had two broken windscreens, fortunately both in the era of laminated glass being ubiquitous, and therefore was able to pick my moment to have the repair done. I shudder to think what the 'bad old days' must have been like when you had to punch out a broken safety-glass* screen at speed just to get safely onto the hard shoulder. You can bet your life it would have been raining at the time.
(*Safety glass - the stuff that breaks into little cubes and is still fitted to most side and rear windows. I say 'most' because my previous car, a Citroen C4 had laminated glass all around.)
I've also had a broken side window, courtesy of some idiot who thought he'd break in just to see if the Met Police card on the dashboard warning of no goods worth nicking inside was true.
Most recently, my wife's car, a Smart, picked up a stone chip, which whilst not large, did show the tell-tale signs of turning into a crack if allowed to.
I'll deal with how these two most recent incidents were dealt with as they are freshest in my memory.
CHRIS, WHY IS THERE GLASS ALL OVER THE PASSENGER SEAT?
Ah yes, those fateful words uttered to me by another Ciaoista/Dooyoo-er as we emerged in the dark from my local pub.
Fortunately, whoever the light-fingered bastard was, there was no paintwork damage, just glass everywhere. I did lose a mobile phone over it, despite it being well hidden from view - makes mental note, never leave the Bluetooth turned on, this is like squawking 'steal me' over a 20 yard radius. Anyway, once home, I made two phone calls, one to disable the phone and the other to my insurers. This second call had to wait till morning for obvious reasons.
Come the next day, my insurers were more than happy just to let me ring Autoglass direct, confirm that I had comprehensive insurance and book the work in.
I was quite impressed how flexible Autoglass were prepared to be, but in the end I chose to meet them on my driveway to get the repair done. The prospect of driving to work, something I only do on Mondays held no joy as I'd have been parked in a street with no window on the kerb side! Their 'time-slots' enabled me to get home in time and still work. Losing pay would have been the final insult - lose a day's pay AND pay the £75 excess. Just what the doctor didn't order!
I always wince at the thought of having some of the car's interior trim removed; this is the stuff that squeaks and rattles are made of. However, the only major difficulty was in getting as much of the broken safety-glass out from the bowels of the door frame as possible. Despite Mr. Autoglass' best effort which included improvising all sorts of slimmer and slimmer vacuum pipes, there was inevitably still going to be some glass granules inside the door. He had warned me that this was frequently the case with opening side windows. I think Duck Tape also figured large in the equation as he tried to affect a seal between his actual vacuum hose and a short length of 22mm PVC pipe.
My heart sank. The thought of the door sounding like a South American percussion instrument filled with dried Capybara droppings every time it slammed filled me with no pleasure.
There was however some light at the end of the tunnel. Every time the door slammed, a bit of glass deposited itself on the car's door sill having fallen through one of the drain holes in the base of the door. Not wanting to scratch the paint, I put good ol' Duck Tape on the sill and waited for the glass to stop coming out.
It was then that I decided to widen the tunnel and let some more light in! I discovered, if I removed the rubber bump stop from the lower corner of the door, I could see the remaining glass granules through the hole created, and by parking in an uphill direction (or by putting the car up ramps) I could coax all the glass to the rear end of the door, whereby it could be guided to the drain hole with my pinkie through the sizeable hole where to bump-stop had been.
I didn't hold this against Autoglass - after all, they can't allocate all day to these things and they'd gotten rid of most of it, and without taking the door off and tipping it upside down, I don't suppose they'd have been able to do anything else. Sometimes, a little 'self-help' is needed to get things 'just so'.
CHRIS, WHY WON'T THE WIPERS SHIFT THAT FLY?
"Err, that's not a fly, it's a chip" - albeit a small chip which had then spread to a mere 5mm crack in one of the layers of laminate. I don't often remember TV ad jingles, but 'Autoglass Repair, Autoglass Replacement' sprang easily to mind.
I rang my insurers, John Lewis, who gave me another number to ring. However, this is just their own way of putting you through to Autoglass. The call was answered very rapidly after a short recording telling me I was being put through to Autoglass via John Lewis Insurance. No tedious buttons to press, no menus to listen to, nothing. No "if you want the mark of the beast removed, press 666, if you're bound and gagged press 3 with your nose'. None of that this time, just a real live person!
I'd already been onto Autoglass' web site so I knew that a chip in the driver's field of vision had to comply with certain parameters to be repairable. Fortunately ours was a nice co-operative chip, being at least 6 cm from the edge of the screen and sufficiently small without being 'too small to fix'.
Just as promised, Autoglass turned up dead in the middle of their 8am-11am timescale and after applying numerous gadgets and unguents to the screen had lessened the effect of the chip to the extent that you have to go looking for it now!
The service was friendly and polite and all over in 15 minutes. As this was 'only' a repair, no money changed hands, and indeed had it been a replacement, my current insurers would only have charged me £60, not the previous £75.
The work came with a lifetime of the car warranty. I don't suppose if it cracks again whilst the car is being scrapped that anyone will complain!
In a few words, boy am I glad that most comprehensive insurers include Autoglass as a 'must have', with no loss of no-claims-bonus and only a nominal fee (have you seen the price of a real new windscreen!?) to pay in the case of a replacement.
Summary: Car glazing repair and replacement
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