Windscreens and vehicle glass

Posted on November 29th, 2013 by GEM Motoring Assist

As one of the main functions of automotive glazing is to ensure maximum visibility for the driver, it is not surprising that law upholds this as a priority.

 

Keep glass clean
To give the best possible visibility, you should ensure all windows are as clean as possible, both inside and out. Windscreen washer fluid is essential and driving a car with an empty screen-wash bottle is an offence. Similarly, it is wise to remove unnecessary advertising stickers that could needlessly obstruct your vision.

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MoT tests
The windscreen is examined as part of the MoT test and a seemingly harmless stone-chip could result in a failure certificate. However, it depends on whether the chip is positioned in the area swept by the windscreen wipers, and if it measures more than  10mm across on the driver’s side or 40mm on the near-side. Nonetheless, any chip can weaken a windscreen, and can easily develop into a serious crack.

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Tinting
Tinting windows has become a popular modification and the law is specific on what is permitted. For cars used before 1 April 1985, the windscreen and front side windows must let through 70% of the external light into the interior, and from then, the figure increases to 75% for the windscreen. The regulations also include tint-films that can be applied to the glass to darken it. Examining the degrees of tint is not part of the MoT test but vehicles are checked randomly as part of a nationwide campaign by VOSA.

If you drive or sell a vehicle with excessively tinted front and rear windows, then you will fall foul of the Regulation 32 of the Road Vehicle Construction and Use 1986. However,prosecution is unlikely provided you cooperate with the police to have the vehicle rectified.

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Can I fit a windscreen myself?
It depends. Once it was possible to fit a windscreen using a piece of string and a keen assistant but modern cars are not as easy and specialist knowledge and equipment is essential. A windscreen that is not strongly attached to the car bodywork will weaken the body structure and could blow out should an airbag inflate.

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Can I have any stickers fitted to my front or rear screens?
The law is a little vague so common sense must prevail. One or two stickers are essentially harmless but seriously obscuring your windows with “baby on board” placards and cuddly toys can either constitute an offence under The Road Vehicles Construction and Use Regulations, carrying a potential maximum fine of £1000 or, if combined with irresponsible actions on the road, could land you with a prosecution for careless driving.

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Are there any regulations regarding mounting of Sat Nav devices on front windscreens so they don’t obscure forward visibility?
All glass or other transparent material should be maintained in such a condition that it does not obscure the vision of the driver but there is no specific reference to Sat Nav suckers in the regulations. In theory it is possible to attach your system to the windscreen provided it is not obviously obscuring your vision. However, the Highway Code states: “‘Windscreens and windows must be kept clean and clear of all obstructions.” so you could attach your Sat Nav to your dashboard to be totally sure, but this may not be practically possible.

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The bottom corners of the windscreen in my car are turning white. Should I be concerned?
While unsightly, the “milky” layer is a result of water seeping between the plastic and glass layers in the laminated screen, causing them to separate. While not an ideal situation, this would not fail a MoT but it is likely your windscreen is slightly weakened.

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DISCLAIMER
The information on this Site is provided on the understanding that GEM Motoring Assist is not rendering legal or other advice. You should consult your own professional advisers as to legal or other advice relevant to any action you wish to take in connection with this website.

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