When you’ve been driving for any amount of time, you probably know that feeling of dread following the smack of something bouncing off your car windshield. When you inspect your windshield, one question always comes to mind: Is this able to be repaired or does the entire windshield need to be replaced? The answer might not be as simple as one would think! Nowadays, we’ll clear those questions up as we determine when you need to repair or replace a cracked windshield.
Differences between a chipped and cracked windshield
Your vehicle’s windshield can get damaged from a variety of sources, but not all damages are alike. The damage caused by something such as a small rock or something such as hitting an animal can have a very different effect on your windshield and how you go about dealing with it. But before explanation concerning the kinds of damage, it’s important to know the way a windshield is manufactured.
Automotive glass, or windshield glass, is occasionally called “safety” glass. The reasoning is because it isn’t actually a singular piece, but instead two pieces of glass with a plastic layer of laminate in between the two. If an object strikes your windshield, the way it’s designed causes it to break into a lot more smaller pieces and stops it from shattering into a lot larger, hazardous ones.
Chips are a small speckle that is caused when an impact breaks away a piece of the glass layer. This can usually be repaired when it is small enough. Nevertheless, when the chip is so deep that it pierces the inner layer of laminate, you might be facing a total replacement. Whereas smaller chips on their own might not be a big concern, they can usually be the starting point from which cracks grow.
Unlike chips, cracks are distinctive in that it is a line in which a single piece of glass has started to fully separate. Whereas these can start off small, they can (and typically do) grow over time.
In the event the windshield is exposed to the scorching ray of the sun or driving through chilly air, variations in temperature could cause it to expand and contract. When you have a crack in the windshield, that process can cause it to little by little, spread.
Aside from these two major categories, it’s not unusual to see a mixture of them and everything in between.
When to have a chipped or cracked windshield repaired
As you can probably tell, repairing a cracked windshield is usually less expensive than a total replacement. An auto glass specialist’s capability to repair damage is subject to a multitude of factors, like the kind of chip or crack, its size, how deep it is, its location, and how many chips or cracks there are.
Most say that cracks that fit underneath a dollar bill can typically be repaired. When a chip is small enough (under 2 inches) and not too deep (typically under 3/8’s of an inch), repairing it might be an option. Under the more excessive side, it might be possible to repair chips up to 3 inches round (subject to the kind and the chips shape) and cracks up to 14 inches long.
The depth of the damage is also considered when establishing if a windshield can be repaired. Don’t forget, vehicle windshields come with two layers of glass with a laminate in between them. When the crack or chip is shallow enough and just penetrates one layer of glass, it most likely can be repaired.
Locating a Reputable Windshield Repair Shop
In some situations, the area of the damage may impact the technician’s capability to repair a crack or chip. Damage that happens near the middle of the windshield (more towards the passenger side) can typically be repaired.
With all that take into consideration, the automotive glass repair place you got to might have some restrictions based on their technical abilities. If a damaged windshield can be repaired, the process typically comprises of injecting a clear resin into the problem area. The resin then gets cured and polished, leaving a smooth, clear finish and prevents the crack from creating more damage.
If the damage is able to be repaired, it’s a good idea to do it as soon as you can get it done. Even a small chip or crack can ultimately spread and force its replacement.
When to have a chipped or cracked windshield replaced
There are obviously some circumstances in which it becomes very clear (no pun intended) that your windshield is required to be replaced. For instance, if a kid throws a rock at your car and it punches a hole in your windshield, you’ll need to get it replaced.
But it isn’t always as straightforward as the above situation. Occasionally, a lot smaller cracks and possibly chips can require a new windshield installation. Typically, you are going to need to replace your cracked vehicle windshield if:
The windshield is tempered.
As mentioned above, a lot of windshields are a type of layered glass with two pieces of glass with a plastic layer of laminate in between the two. Instead of shattering or breaking into pieces, laminated glass holds together when it takes on damage. On the other hand, vehicle side and rear windows are usually tempered glass, in which is manufactured through a different process that causes the glass to break into small, little pieces when damaged. since it breaks in this way, replacing them is your only real option.
The crack is too large.
Even though there are situations in which longer cracks are able to be repaired, those that are longer than a dollar bill typically requires to be replaced. Likewise, if a chip’s diameter is larger than a quarter, the windshield is going to be replaced.
When the crack is too deep.
Any chip and/or crack that penetrates each of the layers of a laminated windshield is required to be replaced. Even if the crack just penetrates the outer layer, this can often expose the plastic layer inside, causing it to become discolored when left in the elements for long periods of time. The reasoning for this is you may actually want to replace your windshield even when repairing it is an option.
When there are too many cracks and/or chips.
Usually, when you have three or more cracks and/or chips anywhere on your windshield, you’ll most likely need to have it replaced. Following them taking a certain amount of damage, they’ll start to lose their ability to withstand additional impacts.
When the crack is in a bad area.
Damage to the driver’s side of the windshield typically requires a total replacement since repairs usually leave a little leftover markings behind. Cracks that go from one edge to another weakens its structural integrity, in which typically means a total replacement is required.
Is it safe to drive with a cracked windshield?
Absolutely Not – regardless of the kind of damage, any damage to a windshield is severe and needs to be addressed as so. Windshields might seem like a humdrum safety feature; however, they are an extremely critical one. A damaged windshield loses its capability to withstand the impact from flying objects and can become a major visual obstruction. In fact, you might even fail your vehicle inspection when the facility considers the obstruction severe enough.