Repair Or Replace That Cracked Windshield?

Your vehicle’s windshield has been subjected to an onslaught of opponents all summer--gravel chips, flying debris, summer hailstorms, overhanging limbs.

Those small chips and cracks can turn into big problems if left unattended. Sometimes, window chips and cracks can be repaired instead of replacing the entire windshield.

But it depends on a variety of factors.

Type, size, depth and location of the damage determines what kind of service is required. For example, a small ding or small crack in the lower right corner of your windshield may be fixed using a chip repair service.

Larger cracks and chips generally require windshield replacement. A vehicle windshield plays an integral role in airbag deployment, and replacement is paramount for crash safety.

“A broken windshield isn’t something you should put off fixing,” said Melina Metzger, public relations manager for Safelite AutoGlass. “Windshields are a major part of a vehicle’s structural integrity, and damaged glass reduces your visibility.”

Of course, many factors determine whether it is possible to repair the windshield or if it needs to be replaced.

Are there less than three chips? Is the edge of the windshield is unharmed? Is the damaged area smaller than a dollar bill? Is the damaged area out of the driver’s line of sight?

If you answered “Yes” to all of these, your windshield most likely can be repaired rather than replaced. If you answered “No” to any of these, or the chip is in your line of vision, windshield replacement is recommended.

Leaving chips or cracks unaddressed allows moisture, dirt and other contaminants into the exposed area. As a result, the glass may require replacement rather than less expensive repair.

Marcus Pace, owner of Pace’s Chip & Rock in Sacramento, Calif., said technique and patented materials play pivotal roles in proper windshield repair. He urges drivers to ask technicians if they will guarantee their work in writing.

Pace offers the following advice when it comes to finding someone to repair that chip or replace that windshield:

  • A windshield is more than just a pane of glass. Automakers say a windshield accounts for roughly a third of the vehicle’s structural support, and that figure creeps up quickly during a collision. Windshields make up about 45 percent of structural support during a front-end in crash and up to 60 percent during a rollover.
  • Check with your insurance company about no-cost repair. Because it's quick and relatively inexpensive, insurance companies often waive the deductible for windshield repair.
  • Know what to look for when the job is finished. Make sure the molding is straight and there’s no sign of adhesives or resin.
  • Keep the vehicle in park for several hours after a windshield replacement. The adhesive used for windshield replacement takes time to dry. You’ll also want to wait around a week before taking your vehicle through the car wash.
  • Repaired windshields are good to go. A repaired windshield is ready for the road the minute the tech is finished.
  • Referrals. Ask your service advisor to recommend a reputable windshield repair or replacement company. Online reviews are helpful as well.