Did anybody read last week's report Cost of Vehicle Ownership (CVO) submitted by the Malaysian Automotive Institute (MAI)? Read about it here. According to MAI, the cost of vehicle ownership in Malaysia is the second lowest in Asean. The lowest is in the Philippines and the highest in Singapore.
MAI based its CVO on the purchase price of the car and its running cost, inclusive of registration fee, insurance premium, road tax and petrol cost. Most critical is the cost of petrol in running a vehicle and it's assumed that the operator fills up his or her car once a week.
We wonder why MAI has put its resources to produce this report. Is it to encourage Malaysians to buy more cars? Or is it because DRB-Hicom's purchase of a controlling stake in Proton will furthur delay the opening of Malaysia's automotive sector?
Or will the wave of Proton's “privatisation” in market liberalisation be faster than expected? Or are car prices going to be an election issue? Whatever it is, this report is about as convincing as the claim by some that if they win the elections, they will reduce further the cost of fuel.
Over the past five years, there has been a mushrooming of windscreen repair shops.
The two biggest names are Dr Cermin and Dr Windscreen. They are not franchisees in the strict sense of the word, but they are more like affiliations. For instance, those shops that carry the Dr Windscreen sign will be supplied by one major windscreen wholesaler that carries the product from all over the world. Those windscreen shops that carry the Dr Cermin signage will be supplied by another major windscreen importer.
Their windscreens are from all over the world. China is a big supplier, as is Malaysia Sheet Glass (MSG) itself.
The implication of the Dr Cermin or the Dr Windscreen name is that the shops will repair windscreens that are chipped or cracked. But the probability is that these shops may advise you to change to a new windscreen if it is beyond repair. As strange as it may sound, repairing a factory installed windscreen is cheaper and safer than changing to a new one in an aftermarket operation where the installation procedure is not certified by the car manufacturer, nor is the installer.
Much of the problem can be traced to windscreen insurance. Many people buy windscreen insurance with the thought that after a few dings in the glass, they will change to a new windscreen free of charge.
“The motor insurance companies amended their windscreen policies so that car owners could claim only for the repair work,” said Glass Mechanic boss Yeoh Eng Hui.
“If the repair cost RM150, then you claim it and still have the rest of the insurance cover. Let's say that you've got a RM1,500 cover, then the insurance company reimburses you the RM150, and still cover you for the remaining RM1,350.
“If you get another ding in the glass within the policy period, then you can still claim on the repair work.”
Yeoh said that the objective is to keep the factory installed windscreen as long as possible because it is a safety issue.
“The big problem is rust. If you can guarantee that the replacement windscreen is installed in such a way that water will not penetrate the metal surround, then it's OK," he said.
“But what we see here is that the aftermarket installation is a compromise. First of all, when the windscreen is installed in the factory, the car body is completely rust free. The sealant and the adhesive are as per manufacturer's specifications. The curing time of the sealant and the adhesive is exactly as per manufacturer's specifications.
“Who can guarantee that the aftermarket installers are doing this? Are they treating the metal surround with a new coat of anti-rust primer? Are they allowing the adhesive and the sealant to cure in the three to six hours that are needed?
“Many people don't bother to find out, especially the lady drivers.”
So, when you have a small crack in the glass, attend to it as soon as possible. A small five sen coin sized star can grow to a six-inch long crack.
If you go to one of the Dr shops with the intention of getting the windscreen repaired, the chances are that after checking the damage on your glass, they may persuade you to get a new windscreen as they have a stock of new windscreens on their premises.
A windscreen is a structural member of the body of the car. It supports the A-pillar which supports the roof. In a roll-over, the cars with original windscreens have a better chance of remaining in place and supporting the roofline.
In a frontal collision that is bad enough to activate the supplementary restraint system, the front air bags will inflate and absorb the impact of the driver and the front passenger only if the windscreen is in place. A factory installed windscreen will more likely remain in place than one that's fitted aftermarket.
If you need to change the windscreen after-market, it would be better to do it at an authorised 3S centre of the brand. Rust is the biggest enemy of aftermarket windscreen installations.
At Glass Mechanic, there are no stocks of new windscreens. Their business is to repair your original factory installed windscreen because they believe that's the safest windscreen. They will help if you can go to them as soon as you notice the crack in the windscreen. Repairing is cheaper, safer and reduces windscreen glass debris.
GlassMechanic is at 60, Jalan SS2/55, Petaling Jaya, opposite Pelita Restaurant. Tel: 03-7873 7873 or 013-381 1133. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org