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Hi,
New owner of a 2020 Subaru Ascent, bought 2 weeks ago used but with only 3K miles on it. Basically a new car.

Wife drives it home from the dealer, says it's fine. I start driving it — and I start getting a headache. My eyes can't focus on anything; road signs and license plates are blurry. There's optical distortion in the windshield — if you move your head straight up or down with your eyes facing forward, you can see the glass get wavy.

I take it to the dealer. Service guy says, "Oh, we've heard of this; probably defective; you're under warranty so it would be replaced; we'll have a look." Great.
They look at it, he comes back and says, "Nope, not defective — it's blurry because of road dust/rock chips. It's affecting the surface of the windshield. This is normal." Warranty won't cover it. He says insurance would. I'm like, No insurance company is going to replace a windshield on a car I literally just bought.

He assured me this is common/normal for cars now, and that he knows someone who replaces his windshield every 2-3 years because of this. Has anyone ever heard of this? Is this guy trying to pull one over on me?

Would love any advice or stories you might have about this. I'm really sad about this ...
- brunov
 

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2019 Ascent Limited, 2015 WRX, 2022 OB Onyx
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Would love any advice or stories you might have about this. I'm really sad about this ...
- brunov
Road dust can be cleaned so as part of the dealer inspection they should have done that and then identified areas of chips that they stipulate caused the distortion. Chips would not cause distortion that you describe. I suggest thoroughly cleaning the glass, identify any chips and then drive it to see if the distortion remains. If it does, contact Subaru of America with your concern. I have no doubt that if there is no damage from driving that SOA will replace it under warranty. Insurance will not cover what the tech is describing unless the chips are severe and cover the total view through the windshield or have created a major crack as to create a hazard.

Distortion of the windshield might also be problematic for eyesight to function properly (depending on the location of the distortion).
 

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Thanks very much!

A Human Factors Analysis of Optical Distortion for Automotive Windshields


detecting optical distortion You might consider contacting your local university to determine if someone has the equipment to test for this.
 

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Hi,
New owner of a 2020 Subaru Ascent, bought 2 weeks ago used but with only 3K miles on it. Basically a new car.

Wife drives it home from the dealer, says it's fine. I start driving it — and I start getting a headache. My eyes can't focus on anything; road signs and license plates are blurry. There's optical distortion in the windshield — if you move your head straight up or down with your eyes facing forward, you can see the glass get wavy.

I take it to the dealer. Service guy says, "Oh, we've heard of this; probably defective; you're under warranty so it would be replaced; we'll have a look." Great.
They look at it, he comes back and says, "Nope, not defective — it's blurry because of road dust/rock chips. It's affecting the surface of the windshield. This is normal." Warranty won't cover it. He says insurance would. I'm like, No insurance company is going to replace a windshield on a car I literally just bought.

He assured me this is common/normal for cars now, and that he knows someone who replaces his windshield every 2-3 years because of this. Has anyone ever heard of this? Is this guy trying to pull one over on me?

Would love any advice or stories you might have about this. I'm really sad about this ...
- brunov
I really sympathise. And I have exactly the same problem. Every time I attempt to change my car I go through this same upsetting and miserable process.

Most cars I try cause distortion and instantly cause me to have a headache, sometimes to the point where I feel sick. I can instantly feel my eyes straining to focus - the whole thing’s horrendous quite frankly. And those who don’t experience it treat you like a complete freak.

There’s a lot of technical stuff about this on the internet. It talks about the heat shield, the curve of the glass and the aerodynamic slant of the modern windscreen. So just forget the dust theory - it has nothing to do with it.

I’m just attempting to get another car right now. So far I’ve test drove 3 lovely cars, which I would be only to happy to purchase, were it not for the fact that they have all caused me to have the usual headache. The last salesman did his level best to try to address anything which would persuade me buy the car. But I didn’t even go into it, because I just knew he wouldn’t understand. So yet another wasted afternoon.

I don’t really know what the answer is to be honest. Or where that leaves us. What I can say though is that normally I’ve managed to find a car that is okay. So I think your only answer here is to find something else.
So good luck with this - the problem is utterly horrendous. It is also demeaning to those that experience it, because no one, unless they experience it themselves, understands.
 

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I really sympathise. And I have exactly the same problem. Every time I attempt to change my car I go through this same upsetting and miserable process.

Most cars I try cause distortion and instantly cause me to have a headache, sometimes to the point where I feel sick. I can instantly feel my eyes straining to focus - the whole thing’s horrendous quite frankly. And those who don’t experience it treat you like a complete freak.

There’s a lot of technical stuff about this on the internet. It talks about the heat shield, the curve of the glass and the aerodynamic slant of the modern windscreen. So just forget the dust theory - it has nothing to do with it.

I’m just attempting to get another car right now. So far I’ve test drove 3 lovely cars, which I would be only to happy to purchase, were it not for the fact that they have all caused me to have the usual headache. The last salesman did his level best to try to address anything which would persuade me buy the car. But I didn’t even go into it, because I just knew he wouldn’t understand. So yet another wasted afternoon.

I don’t really know what the answer is to be honest. Or where that leaves us. What I can say though is that normally I’ve managed to find a car that is okay. So I think your only answer here is to find something else.
So good luck with this - the problem is utterly horrendous. It is also demeaning to those that experience it, because no one, unless they experience it themselves, understands.
Have you tried to look at any pickup trucks? Their windshields have less rake and might work better for you.
 

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Wondering is anything ever improved with your headaches or if you found a car that worked for you. Both of my children complain of headaches 15 & 17 almost immediately upon riding in my 2020 Ascent. I have had the car for a few years now and I love it, but I can't have my kids in such terrible pain. We thought it might have been fumes or cabin filter, didn't help, then the other day my daughter was riding in another subaru at night and noticed that she got a headache from the lights of the other cars coming at her. Now I am thinking it might be the light. I am also wondering if it is all subarus or just particular cars, models, etc. Any help would be great. I am in the process of finding a new car.
 
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