Caleb Cummings is general manager of Calgary PPF.
Calgary’s Business: Why are vehicle windshields so prone to chips and cracks on Calgary and Alberta roads?
Cummings: For safety reasons, Alberta roads are covered in gravel and salt during the long winters. Road salt only works in temperatures above -5C, so due to Alberta’s extreme temperatures, gravel is used to increase traction. During the summer months, gravel trucks are also dropping rocks and construction debris along the highway. The downside is that these rocks are often kicked up by vehicle tires, impacting your windshield at high velocity. The result is the inevitable cracks almost all of us here in Calgary have on our windshields.
CB: When is a cracked windshield considered unsafe?
Cummings: A cracked windshield is considered a safety hazard if the crack is in the driver’s line of sight. This can result in a ticket or, in severe cases, your vehicle being impounded. As well, a windshield with multiple chips or long cracks should be replaced as its strength and integrity are compromised and this could jeopardize the overall safety of the vehicle.
CB: Have you found that you’re busier these days than in the past? Is more gravel being used on roads over the winter?
Cummings: Every year tonnes of gravel and salt are used on Alberta roads and the amount varies depending on weather and road conditions. For 20 years, drivers in Calgary have been protecting their paint with 3M Paint Protection Film, but in recent years new windshield protection films have gained popularity as the windshield is a major impact zone on the vehicle’s front end. While the amount of gravel used on Alberta roads varies depending on conditions, the demand in Calgary for products that can protect vehicle surfaces over the long term has surged. Unlike resin or nano coatings, consumers are reaching out for real physical barriers installed on vehicle surfaces that can withstand rocks flying at them at highway speeds. Windshield Protection Film is currently the only product in existence that can offer this protection for windshields in the same way 3M has protected painted surfaces for years.
CB: What options are there for people to protect their car or RV from chips and cracks this summer?
Cummings: The leading products protecting RVs’ and vehicles’ windshields are Clearplex and Exoshield Windshield Protection Film. Both are a transparent film applied to the exterior surface of a windshield designed to withstand high velocity rocks and prevent chips and cracks. Windshield film is installed professionally at Calgary PPF and prices range from $400 for standard vehicles and up to $800 for large Class-A RVs. For painted surfaces, 3M has always led the industry in research and development. Their newest product, 3M Paint Protection Film – Pro Series, has the toughest top-coat in the industry, with the capacity to self-heal from scuffs, scratches, abrasions and stains.
CB: How as a consumer do you protect yourself and ensure people working on windshield repairs are properly qualified to do so?
Cummings: When it comes to installing protection films on vehicles, it is best to stick with widely-known brands such as 3M, and seek out only certified installers. All Calgary PPF technicians are certified by 3M Canada to install 3M Paint Protection films. There are many off-brand films sold at a discount, but sometimes within just a few months, these cheap films become scratched and beaten or start peeling off, revealing ugly adhesive layers. Real 3M film comes with a 10-year warranty. Clearplex and Exoshield are the industry leaders for windshield protection film. When seeking out protection films in Calgary, always look for reputable companies with Google reviews and proper branding by leading manufacturers such as 3M, Clearplex or Exoshield.
– Mario Toneguzzi