Common RV windshield problems and how to fix them
Regardless of where you are in your RVs life cycle, certain issues will pop up that might be new to you but have been suffered and solved by other RV’ers. Sometimes these issues can be grouped as they are often similar such as cooling issues or slide out issues.
One common issue we see at lot at Coach Specialists, an RV repair shop in Dallas Texas, is windshield issues. We all know that flying rocks and debris can chip or crack a windshield and we know what to do to fix those issues. However in an RV, sometimes the cracks develop without debris damage. In other models, glass can simply pop out of a channel or even begin to drop out of the opening as if the windshield were being lowered like a side window. We have seen it all, and this is the topic of today’s posts.
Class A windshield popping out from high winds
A customer of ours was traveling west from Texas to California, when they were hit with high winds while on the road. The more they drove, they heard increasing amounts of wind noise in the cab area. After reaching their destination, they discovered that the top right corners of the windshield had popped out. In fact, the openings were big enough to fit a hand through. They called a mobile RV windshield repairman to do a spot fix and then took the RV to us when they got back to town.
We have seen several causes for situation and they can range from chassis flex to improper sealing and even discrepancies of sizes. Here are a few issues we have seen repeated amongst RV’s and coaches of all manufacturers:
Common causes of a popped out RV windshield
1. Mother nature- One cannot rule out the simple physics of a giant box like structure pushing wind down a major highway that then collides with even stronger winds. All that pressure will find the weakest link, in this case, your windshield seals. In Texas the winds can be so strong that they turn semis over on their backs without any warning at all.
2. Improper construction from the factory- One customer of ours replaced three windshields before they decided to take the unit to us. After careful inspection we found that the glass was actually hitting the dash while driving. We were able to pull out the broken glass, test fit the new one and we trimmed the dash and modified the glass channel for proper clearance and support. A typical job like this takes about two to three days as we need to let new gaskets setup in front cap before you take this RV back out on the highways.
3. Worn out windshield seals or failing sealants- All good RV owners know to check for roof sealing and caulking around the exterior of the unit, but they forget to check the windshield. Even though they share similar qualities, RV’s are not the same as cars or trucks and are largely hand assembeled versus computer aided mass assembly As a result, things like windshield seals have a shorter lifespan than they would in a car. Over time, the rubber can get bit old and weak. It is amazing how little actually holds those windscreens in place. The fix is to remove each glass section separately and completely remove all residue from the glass panel, the fiberglass opening for the panel and the rubber gasket for the panel. Next we use a primer on each glass including the gasket and the opening. We then mount the gasket in the opening with urethane glue and glue the glass panel in the gasket with urethane glue.
Other potential Causes or Fixes for a popped out RV windshield:
1. Call customer service- If your RV manufacturer is still in business (not all of them are) call customer service, explain your problem, and see what they have to say. Even if you are well out of warranty, this could be a problem they have addressed on other coaches in the past, so you might be surprised to find that they have some expert advice to give on how to fix it. This could save you some time and money when you know what the cause is and how to fix it
2. Chassis flex- Extreme chassis flex , such as the eype caused whrn you drop a wheel off the road, can sometimes pop out a windshield due to the flex. Some brands have inherently weaker front bracing and it is an unconfirmed rumor that non-independent front suspension coaches are subject to excessive front end flex. Some manufacturers recommend what they call the “Halo fix” where extra supports are added to the windshield frame. Another method for dealing with flex is to have some cross bracing added (see photo below).
3. Leveling jack error- Some RV’s can pop a windshield due to improper use in leveling jacks. If you do not have automatic leveling jacks, it is possible to level your RV improperly causing it to flex too much. It is also best to wait to put the slides out until after the jacks have finished leveling.
4. Window openings too small- In at least one instance, we had to add fiberglass to the front cap as the windows were to small for the opening.
5. Improper windshield replacement- Perhaps you bought your RV second hand as many people do. There s no way of knowing the entire RV history. We had an RV come in where a previous owner used a glass shop that put a windshield in in wrong and we had to reset both windshields to make it fit right.
6. Variances in windshield size- As I said earlier, RV’s are mostly hand built. As a result there could be some variances in the windshield openings. It would be easy for a glass shop to measure one side and make similar glass only to cause problems down the road for you. We have seen RV’s where every opening was a different size. We even had to have them shaved down to fit into the chassis.