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Mustang Rear Window Defroster Issue

I have a 2004 Mustang that was hit and had driver’s side rear quarter panel damage. I drove it for two weeks while working out insurance/appraisal issues and the rear window defroster worked just fine during this time (I use the defroster every morning)…this will be important later. I took it to a top rated body shop that my family had used previously and had been very happy with. Body work was great, but after I picked up the car, I immediately noticed that a section of the rear window defroster no longer worked…and it was right in the center, so visibility was severely compromised. Note that the body shop paperwork stated that the rear window was pulled and reinstalled in order to do the quarter panel replacement. I immediately reported this to the body shop and was told to bring it back, no problem. I left it there for a day, but they called and said they couldn’t fix it and to come pick it up.

Finding it quite a coincidence that the defroster was fully functional when I drove it into their lot and not working properly when I picked it up, I wasn’t happy that they were not taking responsibility. I was told that sometimes these things just break down…weird. During a subsequent conversation, the body shop front office person mentioned that damage can happen when pulling and replacing the window and the insurance should pay because if not for the accident, the window wouldn’t have had to be pulled. They said they had called the insurance company of the driver who damaged my car, but they wouldn’t pay to replace the rear window, which made sense to me because, again, it wasn’t damaged in the accident. At one point the body shop manager implied that they might possibly replace the window at cost, but he never called me back. In fact, they promised to call back six times, but I heard nothing from them.

Feeling like I wasn’t being treated fairly, I sent a polite email to the shop owner, who responded today. He said he regretted this unfortunate incident but they had the rear window glass inspected by xxx glass company, who determined it wasn’t damaged due to their work on the car. He suggested that I take it to a reputable glass shop for inspection and to respond to him with their findings, which I will do. I consider this a positive step, since I had been ignored for weeks by the office staff and shop manager.

I admit that I don’t have any knowledge of what is involved in removing/replacing a window with imbedded defroster. I want to be fair, but based on the fact that the defroster was working when the car was delivered to them and not working when I picked it up, plus the fact that the window was removed and reinstalled, it seems extremely likely that damage occurred during the body work.

My question, oh wise car gurus, is…am I being unreasonable in expecting the body shop to replace the window? Can the defroster grid be damaged when removing and replacing the window? If so, is this common knowledge among glass technicians or is it a rare occurrence? What criteria would a glass technician even use to determine if pulling and replacing the window caused part of the grid to fail? I feel like I could use some input from expert, unbiased parties…I’m trying to be fair and reasonable, but just want my car to be restored to the condition it was in before the accident. Thanks in advance; I know this is long and I appreciate any insight you can share.


FYI, defective defroster segments can be repaired, without replacing the glass. There are repair kits available at any auto parts store. Any competent mechanic with a test light and a decent multimeter will be able to determine exactly where the “break” is. He’ll fix that section

Is your goal to get the defroster grids all working again?

Or is your goal to have somebody replace the glass, at their expense?

Just want them all working again, so a repair would be great. I wasn’t aware that the grids could be fixed; I just assumed that replacement was the only option…thanks!

You stated that part of the wire grid wasn’t working. You should be able to look at the grid lines and see if there is damage to any of them. Connection to power has been broken somewhere to that wire grid.

Consider the heater like a maze, everything has to be on the path you can travel to make it work. If it was scratched so current cannot flow it is like a blocked path and won’t work. The fixes as mentioned above open the path. I would think if you find somebody that can do that, an independant mechanic, or yourself will probably be the best route. You might ask the body shop if they coud check the lines and repair as necessary, because you are happy with the body work and would love to tell people how well they worked with you.

Well, let me ramble a little. True they can be repaired. Never done it myself and if it can fine and if not then the window needs to be replaced. I really wouldn’t expect the shop to just replace it without being paid for it by the insurance company but its not really their issue to deal with the insurance company. Contrary to that would be if they did something wrong that damaged the wires or was it just a risk of having to pull the window. At any rate the way forward is to determine the loss exactly by either having it repaired or replaced as required and then putting the claim into the insurance company or better to them through your own agent. Insurance company to insurance company is better where they are talking the same language. If you don’t get satisfaction that way, then you put in a small claims suit for the cost and I’m sure the judge will see it your way. No point hammering the body shop any more although they maybe should have allowed a little contingency for glass breakage in their estimate. Don’t sign off on any claims though until the window is fixed. Keep the claim open. But your duty is to determine exactly what your loss is.