Update on Windshield Breakage in Car Washes (1983)
Research continues to show that damage to automobile windshields is not being caused by normal operations of a car wash. Manufacturer's manuals and research reports from Libby-Owens-Ford Glass Company, Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company, the GM Research Center, and Fischer Body all show that it is virtually impossible, due to the construction of modern automobile windshields, for damage to occur to the windshield while going through a car wash. They tested both hot and cold water, and various water pressures including pressures of brushes and other equipment. All were considerably below the safety factor involved in windshield breakage.
Car wash operators should be alert to the fact that pellets and stones projected by tires of passing vehicles cause "bruises" or "fractures" on windshields. Sometimes the bruise "runs" or cracks from ordinary driving vibrations. Often the bruise is microscopic in size and does not show until water hitting the window in a car wash turns this bruise into a crack. Remember, the result is the effect, not the cause.
The owner of Custom Car Wash in Downers Grove, IL, won a landmark case in the Circuit Court of DuPage County. A customer discovered a crack in her windshield upon completion of her wash. Subsequently, the customer insisted the break was the fault of the car wash and wanted to be reimbursed for the replacement of the windshield. The customer ended up taking the case to court. With the assistance of legal counsel, Custom Car Wash presented a defense that caused the Judge of the Circuit Court to rule in favor of the car wash and declined the claim of the customer in this case.
What to do about it:
ICA recommends that car wash operators:
1) Instruct customers to contact their own insurance company, as this type of damage is covered under automobile insurance policies; and
2) Keep copies of this special alert and the Order dismissing a claim against an Illinois car wash by the 18th Judicial Circuit Court of DuPage County, Illinois on file to present to customers when this problem arises.
The Chevrolet 2006 Corvette Z06 is equipped with P325/30Z R19 rear tires. The rear tires are 13.6 inches wide and will not fit through a typical car wash conveyor.
To prevent potential damage, General Motors is posting a sign on the shifter of the 2006 Corvette Z06 and is also including a notice in the owners manual (Document ID #1506592) warning the owner "that if you drive your vehicle through an automatic car wash the does not have enough clearance for the wide tires and wheels, you could damage your car". It is suggested that owners find an alternative professional car wash where ground clearance will not be a factor.