Regardless of where or how you drive, chances are high that your windshield will get dinged with a rock at some point, causing a chip or a crack. These are annoying at the very least, and dangerous at worst.
Replacing a windshield can cost hundreds of dollars, so before you jump to that conclusion it’s a good idea to look into whether the damage to your windshield can be repaired instead.
When to Repair or Replace a Windshield
It’s tempting to think of a tiny chip in your windshield as no big deal, but that big piece of glass on the front of your car serves a more important structural role than you might imagine.
When intact, a windshield can withstand an enormous amount of air pressure when you’re zipping down the highway. With even a small chip, the structural integrity of the glass is compromised. That could mean a greater chance of the windshield shattering during a collision or if another rock came flying at your car while you were driving. If you live in an area that freezes in the winter, icy conditions can also cause a small crack to spread. For the safety of you and your passengers, it’s always a good idea to address windshield chips and cracks as soon as you can.
Car windshields are made by sandwiching plastic between two pieces of glass. If damage is not extensive, windshields usually can be repaired by injecting liquid plastic into the damaged area. This can be far more economical than windshield replacement.
Depending on the type, size, and position of the chip or crack, you may be able to save a great deal of money by having a localized repair done rather than replacing the entire windshield. Damage that could obstruct the driver’s view usually means the glass must be replaced, but smaller cracks that don’t impede the driver’s ability to see can often be repaired for a fraction of the cost of a replacement. Damage that is less than three inches long or two inches in diameter and is outside the driver’s direct line of sight can often be repaired.
Windshield repairs not only save you money, they have the added benefit of preserving the factory seal on the original windshield. In other words, don’t procrastinate on repairing the damage so long that it turns into something you need to replace.
How to Save on Windshield Repairs and Replacement
Comprehensive insurance coverage typically includes windshield replacement for non-collision damage. You may have the option to add full glass coverage to your policy, which can mean replacement of a broken windshield cost you nothing out of pocket. In some cases, your insurance company may waive the deductible if your windshield qualifies for a repair. Contact your insurance agent to find out exactly what your policy covers and what your options for repair or replacement are.
If it doesn’t make economic sense to involve the insurance company, find an auto glass repair shop in your area to assess—and potentially fix—the damage. Be sure the company is registered with the Auto Glass Safety Council and approved by AAA to ensure the work will be done to the highest safety standards. You can ask your insurance agent for recommendations. Using a reputable company also minimizes the risk of fraud—never accept an unsolicited offer to fix your windshield—and unnecessary upsells. Get a second opinion if you’re not sure whether you’re being scammed into a full windshield replacement when a repair is possible.
In many cases, a technician may be able to come to you, at home or at work, to repair or replace your windshield at your convenience—so you have no excuse for delaying.