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On the Job

Auto glass installer repairs life’s nicks, cracks

Shaun Arsenault said he relishes working with unusual vehicles.
Shaun Arsenault said he relishes working with unusual vehicles.Mark Lorenz for the Boston Globe

Most auto glass replacements are routine, but then there are those standout cars that require custom-made glass flown from Europe, such as the windshield for a classic Italian two-seater, a 1965 Lancia Flaminia Super Sport Zagato. Shaun Arsenault, proprietor of Titan Auto Glass in Woburn, installed the windshield as part of the restoration of this rare vehicle known for its “double bubble roof.”

“Working on unusual vehicles that are loved by their owners is a special treat,” said Arsenault, 36.

You said that often auto glass companies will “stuff” the windshield. What does that mean?

“Stuffing” describes unsafe practices, saving money by cutting corners and getting the glass in quicker. The windshield is forced, or stuffed, between the cowl, [the plastic trim under the windshield wipers], and the urethane. This can cause air leaks and rot, because the structural integrity between the windshield and vehicle is compromised.


There’s actually simple science behind glass repair that some people may not realize, correct?

Yes, glass is actually stronger when it’s cold, because the glass molecules are contracted. When it’s hot, the molecules are farther apart and the glass can fracture easier. A stone that hits the windshield in the winter may not cause a ding, while that same stone in the summer can cause the glass to break.

What sort of windshield damage have you seen?

The most common occurrence is from rock chips kicking up because of highway construction. I’ve also seen everything from windshields being struck by a baseball to a branch puncturing through the glass and into the dashboard. But one story that tops them all is the guy who poured boiling water on his windshield in the dead of winter because he was in a hurry to leave for work. Needless to say, the windshield cracked.

What are the different car manufacturers that stand out, as far as glass design?


When Saturn first introduced some of their windshields, they had an almost 90-degree curve to them; at one time, this windshield was more expensive than a Mercedes windshield. Another unique windshield is in the Chrysler PT Cruiser; the windshield has the molding and a tab built into it, so it fits right into the body of the vehicle and is very easy to replace.

What kind of vehicle do you drive when off duty?

I drive an old Land Rover that’s solid and great in the snow. And I have a Suzuki GSX-R750 sport bike. It has a windscreen, but it’s hard-coated polycarbonate, so typically I don’t have to worry about it getting pitted.

Cindy Atoji Keene can be reached at cindy@cindyatoji.com.