Friday, May 22, 2015
Yet Another Windshield Replacement
Back in February, in the thick of winter, I was cleaning the car in prep for installing the protective cover and noticed a 2" hairline crack in the passenger side of the window. As I had not driven the car in the preceding day and I did not see the crack their earlier I could not fathom what caused it, at least initially, but as I noticed the occasional pack of snow and ice fall from the nearby tree I wondered if a wind gust contributed to my new dilemma.
I wasn't about to replace the windshield in freezing weather and I did for a time consider having it removed in prep for my interior work later this year -- after all, that would provide greater access to the upper portion of the dashboard -- but as that work is still in the planning stage and the recent temperature cycles had caused the crack to progress half way across the car I knew I had to address it sooner rather than later.
Since I spent almost $1500 repairing extensive rust damage to the windshield frame two years ago and I knew this might be the last windshield I put in the car for a variety of reasons I wanted to make sure that this replacement process did not again damage the frame. That led me to ask my technician for help and he was kind enough to loan me one of the dealer's tools -- a special knife designed to remove old window adhesive without scratching the surface of the window channel.
The tool is absolutely required on any of the newer vehicles like the i3 that are based on carbon fiber, as even minute scratches in carbon fiber can wind up compromising the structure. I didn't realize how small a scratch would be tolerable so he showed me their "go/no-go gauges", which were basically small pieces of thin sheet steel with a tiny "nub", essentially imperceptible to the naked eye, machined proud of one of the edges. The idea being that if the nub fit completely in the scratch the part had to be repaired or replaced. Easy to say if it's a control arm or something, but hard to swallow if we're talking about a stressed component like the windshield frame.
As it turned out the installer declined to take advantage of the tool and instead took the time to clear the old adhesive with a minimum of damage to the paint, but I did see several areas where the primer was exposed. He covered those with the usual special primer. I wasn't particularly happy with that but what was I to do. This is the state of the business. Everyone wants to rush to get the job done rather than do what's right. This is one of the many reasons I work on my own cars, but as I have said before, some jobs are not exactly DIY friendly and this is one of them. Not to say I couldn't buy the tools and do the job, but I'll add that to the list of 4 million other higher priority tasks I have on my plate. To add insult to injury the installer no longer accepted insurance of any kind so I was forced to pay him full freight and then chase after my insurance company, but he did give me a reasonable price considering the cost of the window and trim kit.