Fix the damn windshield!
August 28, 2013
Defective windshield in 2013 Prius 2– Safety issue
I purchased the vehicle new from Bert Wolfe Toyota on 8/2/2013. It was purchased for my wife and she is the principal driver. On 8/18/2013 I drove the car for the first time in the dark. I immediately noticed that headlights of cars approaching me appeared to be distorted. They were tripled with dimmer copies of the lights above and below. These copies showed a distinct rainbow effect. This is very distracting for the driver. I also noticed that the further away the oncoming car was, the larger the spread between the two copies. Basically, the angle between the main light and the copies was constant. Further distance meant a larger spread. Upon reaching my destination I contacted the original salesperson via email to detail the problem. The email is dated 8/18 and is included below:
“There’s a problem with the car that you WILL want to notify corporate about. Technical problem with the windshield. The vinyl is defective. Anisotropic refraction causes “sundogs” at about +/- 5 deg from the vertical on any bright point source of light. This problem likely affects many many vehicles made with vinyl from the affected rolls. The windshield will need to be replaced. There is no repair possible. Please feel free to forward this to Toyota corporate. They’ll understand the jargon. And feel free to call me @ 910.635.2502.”
Further emails led to the decision to contact Toyota corporate’s complaint line. That call was made on Monday 8/26 and was assigned case #1308260215. Toyota corporate suggested I visit my local dealer (Superior Toyota) for service. This service visit was attempted today, 8/28/2013. While waiting to catch up with the service manager, I did a bit of internet research and discovered complaints about this same phenomenon going back several years. Replacement OEM windshields do not fix the problem. And this makes sense if there really is something wrong with the plastic polyvinylbutryal interlayer. As long as the manufacturer of the plastic has not changed their process, there is a significant chance that replacement windshields will exhibit the same effect.
As the evidence supports the notion that the manufacturer of the vinyl interlayer has had an ongoing problem for several years, I do not want an OEM replacement windshield employing vinyl from that manufacturer. Instead, I would like the windshield replaced with an aftermarket replacement glass (ARG) windshield from Safelite®. Safelite® does not use polvinylbutyral interlayer sourced from Japan, so it seems unlikely their windshield would suffer the same problem. I am willing to make the arrangements with Safelite® to have my windshield replaced if Toyota will reimburse me for the out-of-pocket expenses. Alternatively, if Toyota wishes to remove and replace my windshield with an ARG windshield at Superior Toyota, that would be equally acceptable. From the point-of-view of troubleshooting, Toyota corporate may wish to have access to this defective windshield.
At this point my wife will not drive the vehicle at night due to this distortion. As this is a brand new vehicle with a known and demonstrable defect, I expect Toyota to make it right. Toyota has had, in the past, the reputation for making some of the best and most reliable cars on the market. The last few years have tarnished that reputation somewhat. How it handles this safety issue will speak volumes about whether they are serious about addressing their shortcomings or are a company on the decline.
Daryl Cobranchi, Ph.D.