Clack! Awww, for fucks sake….
That’s exactly what the sounds were inside the cabin when a rock popped up behind a big rig on a local Interstate and bounced off my Aston Martin DB9 windshield. At first while still driving I didn’t see any chips or cracks, but when I got home to check it out more closely the hit had been near the upper right edge in the black area. It had already spidered out and a 7 inch split was winding its way out into the passenger area. About the only good news (being a relative term) was that another inch to the left and it would have chipped/dented the A pillar, a substantially more difficult (and costly) proposition to fix.
After the shock wears off
After the initial shock wore off I entered the “What the fuck do I do now” state of mind. This certainly isn’t a DIY job that I can tackle myself. How much does a windshield cost? Can only a dealer fix it? All questions I sought to answer, and I will share with you below, plus a nifty Time Lapse video of the actual replacement if you want to see how its done.
Before I was thinking clearly, I jumped onto a large national (US) chain’s website (Safelite AutoGlass) to see if by miracle their online price and scheduling tool would include a front windshield for an Aston Martin DB9. No luck. I didn’t want to even consider the prospect of a dealer service. Denial set in and I ignored the issue for a few weeks.
Insurance to the Rescue
With a whiskey in hand I finally pulled out my auto insurance policy and looked at my coverage levels. OMG! Does that actually say they will replace my windshield with just a $50 US deductible?! Encouraged I called my agent (who’s EXCELLENT if you are looking for one – contact me). Without a moment of hesitation the answer was “Yes, it’s covered with just a $50 deductible.” She then contacted their primary service company (which ended up being the same company I had checked out on the web – Safelite AutoGlass) and she called me back to say “Yes, they can replace it. They will need to order the windshield, and you will need to take the car into their specialty service shop just downtown”. Awesome!
It turns out their website doesn’t really include rare or specialty cars, but if you just call them they will do the work on about anything as long as they can source the parts.
OEM vs. Aftermarket Glass
One issue that came up was that the insurance policy allowed for them to substitute aftermarket glass versus using OEM glass. I fretted over this, and requested OEM glass only. I didn’t want my car fitted with ‘Almost as Good’ glass that was cheaper since it would potentially devalue the car and grind on my nerves. The deal would be that I could request OEM glass, and I would pay the difference over aftermarket glass if available. Fair enough. This turned out to be a mute point. There was no aftermarket glass supplier (the volumes are likely far too small for anyone else to start making it). They called me back to let me know that it would be Aston Martin glass supplied from a main dealer, and it would take 1-2 weeks to get a windshield shipped into them (we are in the US).
Specialist vs. Main Dealer
I wasn’t sure if I would be making a mistake having the windshield replaced by a specialist versus just taking the car into my local (sort of) Aston Martin Dealership (90 miles away for me). I contacted the dealer and asked for a quote, and how it would work. I learned I would need to bring them the car for a day (ugh – essentially a full day off work due to the distance and waiting) and the price would be $3,580 USD for just the glass, plus another $700 for the install. OMG! Yes, that’s $4,280 to replace a rock chipped windshield. Further, they have no relationship with the insurance company so I would have to pay upfront and then submit my claim back to the insurer to get reimbursed, hopefully.
I also asked who would do the actual glass installation. Installing a windshield in a modern car is a highly specialized skill, and I really doubted that the dealership actually had a trained technician on hand for the two windshields a year they would probably fix. The answer: “We call Safelite Autoglass and they do it for us.” They use a specialist, the same one my insurance carrier wanted to use. Choice made – just stick with the suggestion from the insurance company and have Safelite do all the work using Aston Martin supplied glass, and I don’t have to worry about paperwork or reimbursements.
Changing the Windshield
The day of my appointment finally arrived. In preparation, I took my cell phone and made a very close up video inspection (using my cell phone camera) of the paint around the exterior of the windshield, and the interior trim panels as well. If they were to scratch or mar up the surfaces, I wanted to have proof of the way it was.
When I turned up at the service center they all knew a DB9 was coming in that day. Half a dozen techs surrounded the car, and as you might guess one of their most experienced techs was assigned the work. This is the service center where they work on Mercedes, Porsche and other specialty marques. I was relieved to see they were prepared.
As it turned out the first thing they did, with me watching, was also to document the paint and interior around the windshield. Same approach from them, they wanted to know if they did, or didn’t, scratch the paint.
I knew I wasn’t going to be allowed to stay to watch the install process, so I fitted a GoPro camera with an extended battery pack inside the car to record the event in time lapse for your viewing enjoyment – check out the video below!
The process actually took them about 2 hours and my car was ready to pickup by lunch.
My out of pocket cost was just the $50 USD deductible. But, Safelite shared with me their actual parts costs passed along to the insurance company.
As it turns out for my car (a 2005 DB9 Coupe) there are actually several Aston Martin parts needed to do the job right:
- Windshield Non-heated (Aston Martin p/n 4G43-F03102-A-P1A01)
- Seal (Aston Martin p/n 4G43-F03102-B-P1A03)
- Another part called a Bumpon that you need Qty 3 of (Aston Martin p/n 4G43-03836-AB)
All totaled their costs for these parts was $3,580 USD which matches up EXACTLY to the Dealer parts price I was given. The invoice I was presented didn’t include showing me the labor, and I am sure they and my insurance carrier have a special deal.
Note: My car is a California car. I understand there was a factory option for an electrically heated Windshield that would melt the ice under the wiper blades for you poor suckers that live somewhere you need to thaw out your wiper blades and actually drive your DB9 in the winter weather. [Sorry, California gloating creeping out] If you have a car with that option, expect your windshield to perhaps cost even more (the heated windshield is Aston Martin p/n 4G43-F03102-B-P1A01)
Other things I’ve heard
I’ve heard about a few other Aston owners dealing with the same issue. One was a DB9 owner working through his insurance (a different company) and his local Aston dealer that cost about $6,000 USD. Another was a V8 Vantage owner that paid out of pocket since he bought the car with the crack already there (insurance won’t cover that) and used Safelite AutoGlass and his total cost was about $4,414 all in (ouch!).
Moral of the story – if you are buying a used Aston Martin DB9 or Vantage make sure there is no chips or crack in the windshield otherwise you are facing a costly expense.
Here is a video showing the process including the Time Lapse of them changing the windshield. Enjoy!