Let’s Talk Rust and Windshields

Red VW Bug in snow showing how rust can begin to form around your windshield Living in Arizona, rust is not something that we worry about. Our hot and dry climate wards off rust common in many other states. So why is there a need to talk about rust when the nearest ocean is hundreds of miles away and the average annual precipitation is barely 6 inches?

Let me tell you why.

Rust will travel state to state. Just because you drive from, Massachusetts to Arizona doesn’t magically remove your vehicle’s rust. Arizona is a very dry state, but during our monsoon season and parts of the winter, humidity can increase enough to continue existing rust and even start anew.

Is it just water that causes rust?

No, rust usually needs more than water. It typically needs a catalyst: salt. Arizona gets so little snowfall that drivers aren’t used to driving on icy or slushy roads. To help driving conditions, cities and towns 1) plow the roads if they have a plow, and 2) spread cinders and salt to promote traction/melting.

It’s all too common, your car is wet from snow, then chipped ever so slightly from the flying cinders, and finally salted with the road salt.

You know what happens next. Water + Salt + Metal = Rust. If you didn’t have rust before, your chances of having it now have increased.

They are Improving

Cities are doing much better by moving away from using salt and only cinders when it snows, but rust can still form without salt. Existing rust will increase with just water too.

So how does this relate to your windshield?

The undercarriage of your car is not the only place that rust forms. Unfortunately, a common place for rust is your windshield; mainly due to rain run-off settling against the windshield seal.

Metal and rubber can hold off the water, but once rust forms, it’s all over.

Sepia rusty truck

But what does this mean?

This means that the rust under the windshield seal has now opened your car to water damage. The space that your windshield sets in is also extremely damaged and almost unusable.

What this means for a glass installer is the seal allowing the windshield to attach to the car, will no longer work. If an accident occurs, your windshield will no longer provide the structural support and could even pop off with enough force.

All because of rust.

So, will they still replace it, despite the rust?

This really all depends. It depends on how bad the rust is and how willing the installers are. The main problem is that if it is replaced and the Rust on the cowl of a windshield adhesive/seal doesn’t stick to the frame securely, the windshield could fall if you are in an accident.

Overall, it’s a liability issue. So yes, he/she might replace the windshield, but you should be aware of the possibilities if the rust can’t be cleared. And please don’t try to trick the installer, always be honest and open upfront.

When you’re honest, the installer will do as much as they can to help get you a new windshield safely.

What’s to be said…

Alright. Overall, you should be very wary of rust. Avoid it if possible but understand if your car does get rust around the windshield, it will complicate a replacement, regardless of the shop you go to.

Be patient and be honest with your installer so they can help your situation as best as they are able. Good luck and happy adventuring!


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Author: B. Delamater


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