Written by Rick Valentine President of Nomad Glass, Inc.
Motorhome windshields provide the lifeline between you and the harsh outside elements. Issues from faulty installations can cause water leaks that can not only be annoying but also costly if excessive. Damage could potentially occur to electronic components under your dash not to mention mildew that can occur due to excessive moisture inside of your coach. Other problems that could occur from a faulty installation could include windshields “popping out”, rust damage and stress cracks.
Replacing a motorhome windshield can be potentially difficult process if certain precautions are not taken to ensure that safety factors are adhered to. Some things that we will discuss in this commentary will be stress cracks, rust and just plain old faulty installation problems. There are certain things that the coach owner can do to help minimize the possibility that a problem can occur.
When getting a motorhome windshield replaced be sure to do your research about the technician that you are going to use. Your insurance company, if they are going to help pay for this, is great about recommending a windshield specialists that specializes in auto glass but they usually do not have much experience when it comes to motorhome windshields. Most auto glass shops specialize in cars and trucks and are not used to dealing with motorhome windshields that can often be precarious and difficult. Make sure that the technician that you choose to do the work is knowledgeable in some of the specific issues that can come up during the installation of a motorhome windshield. Here are some guidelines that you can look at to ensure that your windshield is safely installed.
-The technician that you choose must be certified in the adhesive system that they are using. Urethane adhesive is used to secure the glass to the body of your coach. This bond is the most important thing of the installation of your windshield. If incorrect materials are used then your risk of problems down the road are magnified due to separation of the glass from the body.
-If any rust exists that is part of the bonding surface it must be dealt with before the windshield is installed. If the rust is minimal then a certified installer should be able to remove all existing rust by grinding it down back to the bare metal. After this is done it should be primed to prevent the rust from occurring again. In some instances the rust are may be too big to be repaired out in the field. If your technician recommends additional body work due to excessive rust then it should be performed by a certified body shop to have it fixed. Sometimes the presence of rust is not known until the old windshield is removed from the body.
-If your windshield is a gasket set windshield you may want to inspect your gasket for tears or cracks before you schedule your appointment. In most instances gaskets can last for many years and can be re-used unless there is previous damage to it. If you know that your gasket is in need of replacement then let your technician know so that they can ensure to have all parts on hand before the job is scheduled. There is usually an additional charge for this and you may need to have both sides of your windshield removed in order to replace your gasket. When the technician is installing your windshields in a gasket set style coach make sure that they use a primerless urethane adhesive between the glass and the gasket to ensure that you do not have pop-out issues down the road. This will also help alleviate any potential leak issues that could occur.
-Make sure that the technician you hire has a nationwide warranty. Let’s face it; you have a motorhome because you like to travel in it! In most instances any problems that you have with the installation of your windshield don’t occur until you are on the road. If you have a problem with your windshield you don’t want to have to pay for it twice. Many technicians will offer a warranty for air and water leaks along with a limited stress crack warranty. That warranty is usually useless if you are not in their particular service area. Use a company with a nationwide warranty that covers the workmanship that has been performed on your coach.
-Stress Cracks can occur more predominately on some motorhomes than others. If your windshield has been broken due to something other than being hit by an object then it may be classified as a stress crack. A stress crack can be caused by improper operation of the leveling system of your coach, structural issues that may be pre-existing, or improperly installed windshields. In rare instances there may even be a defect in the glass. Most glass shops will warranty a windshield that has not been installed correctly or if there is a defect in the glass. Most warranties will not cover a stress crack if there are structural issues or if the glass was broke due to improper use of the leveling system. Make sure that you understand your technician’s policy regarding stress cracks before you schedule your appointment.
-Make sure to follow the technician’s recommendations for drive away time after they have completed the installation. In most cases it will be recommended to let your coach sit without being moved for 4-8 hours after installation. The adhesive system that is used has preset drive times for your coach and it is very important to follow these instructions. The adhesive must be fully set up before you drive it to ensure that you will not have issues down the road.
Remember – Do your homework when choosing who is going to replace the windshield in your motorhome. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about your technician’s abilities and if you don’t feel confident that they are going to do it right the first time then keep searching. One great source for getting a recommendation for technicians to work on your motorhome is Good Sam, or any other Motorhome club that you may belong to. The vendors that help support these organizations are considered to be specialists in the motorhome industry and can help ensure that the job is done right the first time.