A few years back, cracks and chips in your windshield could not be repaired and needed to be replaced. However, today’s technology makes auto windshield repair easier and more efficient that ever depending on the location, size and severity of the windshield crack or chip. Wondering whether you should get your windshield repaired or replaced? Great, this guide will teach you the differences between each type and let you know what kind of cracks and chips can be repaired without replacing your windshield.
First of all, if you live in Arizona, it’s quite likely that your insurance will cover full replacement of your windshield if it is beyond repair. If you live in Arizona, skip to “what kind of cracks and chips can be repaired?”. If you don’t live in Arizona, start with the auto windshield repair section below.
Do I Need Auto Windshield Repair?
Auto windshield repair can save you money and is a quicker solution than auto windshield replacement but if your insurance company does not pay for chips and cracks, you will have to front the money yourself. Although, we have heard of some insurance companies waiving the deductible of the claim, making the repair free but not all insurance companies will do this. Make sure and call your insurance company before doing any repairs or replacements on your windshield. Professional auto windshield repair will prevent a crack or chip from spreading and help mask to damage without having to remove the glass. If you have a crack or chip in your windshield, you should get it repaired right away to help avoid the crack or chip from spreading. If your crack or chip has grown larger than a dollar bill you will most likely to auto windshield replacement, see below.
Assessing Windshield Damage
Windshields are designed for the purpose of providing structural support to the vehicle, and in order for them to fulfill this purpose, they need to be strong enough to withstand wind and external stress when the vehicle is travelling at great speeds. To ensure durability, windshields comprise of a layer of automotive safety glass we call lamination, sandwiched between and holding together two outer glass layers. This ensures that the structure of the windshield itself can withstand minor hits and damage from external stimuli.
But, inevitably, damage does occur. It could be a block of fallen masonry sticking through your windshield after the night of a storm, or a piece of flying debris that hit it when you’re speeding, the windshield can suffer both major and minor damage. In case of an everyday minor damage, the lamination will hold together the outer layers of glass, preventing the windshield from falling apart even if it cracks. Due to its durable nature, not all damage it takes requires that you replace the windshield, and in most cases, you may just be able to have the crack repaired. Below we have outlined how you can determine whether your car’s windshield needs to be repaired or replaced.
Repair or Replacement – Determining the Best Fix
As mentioned above, cracks and chips in the windshield don’t call for a replacement in most cases. But whether they do or don’t is dependent on four factors, an assessment of which will tell you what the best fix is in a certain instance. The size of the crack, its depth, the type of damage, and the location of the crack, all play a role in determining the seriousness of the damage the windshield has taken.
Your vehicle will need to be evaluated at a repair shop where various factors will be assessed in order to determine whether the damage is repairable or will require replacement. In addition to those mentioned above, these will also include the repair technician’s skill level, your expectations, and the likelihood of a durable repair.
Having the Windshield Repaired
Having a single chip or crack repaired shouldn’t take more than 30-40 minutes at the repair-shop. If it’s a deep crack or has been contaminated, pre-repair steps will need to be undertaken to prepare the damaged area for a potentially successful repair.
The actual repair job will involve the technician infusing a curable clear resin in the windshield’s outer glass layer, restoring its shape and structure, and improving the glass’s appearance. Curing and polishing the resin leaves behind a smooth surface and prevents the crack from spreading and causing more damage. A good repair technician should assess all the factors that will impact the repair and determine if a repair is the best course of action or if the vehicle will be better served with a windshield replacement.
In case where the damage is deep enough to have reached the middle layer of the windshield, the cracks itself needs to be deepened or widened with a drill to ensure that the resin will reach the middle layer. It should be noted that all repairs need to be conducted only after dust particles have been removed from the cracks and crevices, a task that can be achieved with the use of a small vacuum cleaner designed for this purpose.
After the injector has been attached around the damaged area and the resin inserted, the technician will remove any excess and cure and harden the resin under UV light.
What Kind Of Windshield Cracks And Chips Can Be Repaired?
This picture/guide below will show you what type of cracks and chips can be repaired. If your crack or chip is bigger than these examples you are going to need to get your windshield replaced.
Do I Need Auto Windshield Replacement?
Auto windshield replacement is the process of removing your old damaged windshield and replacing it with a new one. Replacing your windshield can be done fairly quickly but you will need to wait a few hours before getting back out on the road because the bonding materials need time to cure. Replacing your auto windshield is more expensive than auto windshield repair but as we mentioned in the second paragraph, there are tons of insurance companies who will replace your auto windshield for free, especially if you live the Arizona area.
Size and Depth of the Crack
If you had gone to a repair shop with a crack longer than a dollar bill about a decade ago, it would have been irreparable; some still are based on other factors, but modern technology has increased the likelihood of successfully repairing larger cracks and chips, with repair shops being able to repair cracks even 18-inches in length. Depending on the depth of damage and other factors, each case will have to be assessed on an individual basis by the technician, and a course of action determined.
Type of Damage
With a lot of different ways your car’s windshield can get damaged in, there are a lot of different cracks; some can be easily repaired, some not so easily, and others not at all. Among chips and cracks that can be easily repaired are:
– Bulls-Eye and Partial Bulls-Eye: circular and semi-circular cracks caused by circular objects,
– Star Break:short cracks branching from the point of impact,
– Dings and Crack Chips: cracks smaller than a quarter-dollar coin in size, and
– Pit: a small crater like shape formed by glass being rubbed off by sand particles.
Generally, small cracks and chips in the windshield that are no bigger than a quarter-dollar coin can easily be repaired by any auto glass repair-shop.
Multiple cracks on the windshield, however, even if they all small in size are harder to repair and will have to be assessed by the repair technician on an individual basis.
Location of Impact and Damage
Even if a crack is small enough to be repaired doesn’t mean that it should. This is because even the best repair jobs can leave scars in the form of blotches, or an un-even surface which, if in the driver’s field of vision, will hinder visibility and decrease clarity. When analyzing if the location of the damage will be in the driver’s sightline, technicians need to consider the heights of everyone that may drive the particular vehicle as that may vary.
Furthermore, chips and cracks near to the edge of the windshield that have caused considerable damage call for a replacement and not just a repair, as they compromise the durability of the windshield and the firmness of its hold on the metal frame it is being held in. If caution is not exercised in the risk assessment, they can prove to be harmful to the passengers’ safety.
Cracks and chips near the edge that aren’t fully visible are too close to the frame and may not allow for successful repairs.
- Some of the chips and cracks that can’t easily be repaired are those that:
- are on the windshield’s inner side
- are on both the glass layers
- are on the internal radio antenna or the rain sensor
- are in the driver’s field of vision
- are in multiple locations on the windshield
- are longer than 18-inches
- have been contaminated
- are on or near the edge
Having the Windshield Replaced
Any crack longer than 18-inches, or a chip that’s deeper than 2-inches will most probably call for a replacement as it will be extremely difficult to repair, with low probability of a durable repair. If you find yourself at this cross-roads, you’ll need to decide whether you’ll be going for a windshield with the same OEM, an aftermarket substitute from the OEM, of an alternative from a third-party.
In order to ensure your replacement is done up to industry standards, always choose a repair-shop certified by your region’s regulating body (Auto Glass Safety Council in the US). If you are a resident of the United States, you can visit their website at www.safewindshields.org to obtain a list of all approved repair technicians.
The replacement process involves 4 stages, In the first stage, areas around the windshield are covered with protective canvas to limit the activity to the concerned area. This is followed by removing the glue and seals from the edges and removing the windshield itself, leaving the frame bare. The frame is then coated with a primer on the inside where the windshield will be laid, while the windshield itself is coated with an adhesive sealer on the edges and left to rest for a short period of time. It is then laid in the frame and bonded.
The repair-shop will normally take between 30 minutes to an hour to complete the replacement process, although it could take slightly longer in some instances. After the windshield has been replaced, you are advised to not drive around for another hour so that the adhesives can dry down and bond, and the repair technician will tell you as much. The best course of action is to not drive at all and wait at the repair-shop for the adhesive to set.
For you to get a durable repair or replacement, you need to make sure that the technician you choose to carry out the task follows the set standards and assesses the damage with due diligence.
Other Factors For Auto Windshield Replacement vs. Auto Windshield Repair
Location of the chip or crack can decide if you need auto windshield repair or replacement. For example, if the crack is in the drivers line of site, it cannot be repaired. Also, if the crack is on the edge of your windshield it can spread fairly quickly and compromise the rest of your windshield. Even after repairing a chip it could leave some minor distortions that make it unsafe to drive. Its best to replace your windshield if you have either one of these issues.
If you’re not sure whether to repair your auto windshield or replace it, it’s best to seek professional advice from an auto body and auto windshield expert like TS Auto Windshield. Our technicians will first check if they can repair your windshield before suggesting a windshield replacement. Find a local Auto Windshield repair shop near you.