For some time, the auto glass repair and replacement (AGRR) industry has used the phrase “safe drive-away time,” or SDAT, to describe the length of time necessary for the adhesive used in a windshield replacement to cure properly so the customer is safe to, you guessed it, drive away.
But is “safe drive-away time” the right phrase to use? Believe it or not, this is debatable among the AGRR industry. Some consider “minimum drive-away time,” or MDAT, to be more appropriate.
Safe drive-away time, or SDAT, is a term that describes how long your car must sit unmoved after your windshield is replaced to ensure the vehicle is not unsafe to drive. The technician performing the work on your car should mention this to you.
Safe drive-away times vary by type of vehicle glass, weather conditions and type of adhesive used. Some replacements allow drive-away time in as low as a half-hour. Other require the vehicle remain stationary for several hours following a windshield replacement.
This is because the curing, or hardening, of the adhesive holding your windshield in place can vary due to many factors. These include the type of adhesive, outside temperature, humidity level and other conditions at the time of replacement.
Your technician should take all of these factors into consideration before informing you of the proper and safe drive-away time for your particular situation.
Different adhesives have different curing times, and any single adhesive has different cure times based on atmospheric conditions. This is a key element of crash and lab tests that the products undergo before going on the market.
Recently, the term “minimum drive away time,” or MDAT, has made its way into the industry vocabulary.
In fact, some adhesives companies are already using the term with their customers and in their literature. The switch is just a terminology change, but one intended to educate customers and consumers about the safety aspects of windshield replacements. Additionally, it is less troublesome for adhesive companies because saying something is “safe,” because it implies the vehicle must sit that exact amount of time when, in fact, it’s a minimum.
The Auto Glass Replacement Safety Standard (AGRSS) is North America’s only auto glass safety standard, addressing procedures, education and product performance. It is in the process of changing its literature language to reflect the use of MDAT over SDAT.
Ultimately, the “minimum” term may be more accurate, as it reflects a minimum amount of time needed before a vehicle could be considered to be operational and safe.
Regardless, companies should stand behind their drive-away time. If it’s 30 minutes, then that’s the minimum time needed for the adhesive to cure, according to that company. Some technicians may go further and add more time on top of that minimum, just in case.
The effect of temperature and environmental conditions on a proper windshield replacement—and drive-away time—should not be understated.
As industry expert Bob Beranek points out, the summer season brings warmer temperatures and higher humidity, which means faster curing times for urethane adhesives. Quicker cure times means faster safe-drive-away times, but it also means a shorter working time during the application and setting of the glass.
The opposite can be true in the winter. Adhesives, cleaners and primers may slow down when below 40 degrees, so technicians will follow certain written procedures for cold weather installations and should pay special attention to the time factors.
Technicians and automotive glass company owners working in bitter temperatures, such as below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, may use different products and procedures than they would otherwise. Also, technicians may need to keep their cleaners, primers and adhesives in a warm place overnight before working on a vehicle in this environment. This prevents the need to thaw them the next day.
All of that aside, if possible, the vehicle should be taken into a heated area to work.
If you drive your car before MDAT is reached and you become involved in an accident or collision, the windshield might not remain in place during a crash. Also keep in mind, the windshield is an important safety feature of your vehicle, as it provides structural support to the roof. Without the windshield properly in place, the roof could cave in on the car’s occupants. You could also be ejected from the vehicle through the opening.
This is are meeting minimum drive-away times are so critical. Don’t be afraid to ask your windshield replacement technician for details on when the vehicle will reach the minimum MDAT after your windshield is replaced. Even lawmakers are recognizing the importance of consumers understand drive-away times. Rhode Island, for example, recently fielded a proposal for a regulation requiring “notification to consumer in writing of appropriate post-repair practices and drive-away time necessary for the safe operation of the vehicle.”
And windshields aren’t the only pieces of glass affected by urethane cure times. Sunroofs installed and not driven until the MDAT are just as dangerous, especially for those drivers behind the vehicle, as there have been cases of sunroofs lifting out of their housing. Other issues include leaks, squeaks and rattles.
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