Windshield replacement

It can happen to anyone – and often there are few options to avoid it. You’re traveling down the highway or a long stretch of country road and – DINK! – a rock, pebble or some other piece of road debris strikes your windshield causing a ding, chip or worse yet a long crack. Or maybe your windshield is damaged by falling branch, a runaway baseball or vandals or thieves. No matter the reason, repairing or replacing your windshield quickly is essential to keeping you and your vehicle on the road safely.

There are two very important reasons to replace your windshield if and when it’s damaged:

1. Vision – Being able to clearly see the road in front of you as you drive is one of the most important aspects of driving. If your cracked car windshield shows significant damage, you’ll quickly find it’s much hard to see and drive well. And although smaller cracks may not appear to affect your vision, even a slight distraction can be dangerous. Further, a crack in a windshield can also catch and reflect glare from sunlight, street lights or headlights.

2. Safety – An understated advancement in automobile safety is the advent of laminated glass. Laminated glass, also known as safety glass, is comprised of layers of glass sandwiched around an innermost layer of vinyl resin. The sandwiched glass adheres to the resin on impact, preventing glass shards from becoming dangerous flying objects and vehicle occupants from being ejected. Once windshield damage seriously compromises the safety layer, the windshield loses much of its ability to withstand further impacts.

The windshield replacement process itself is fairly straightforward, but having an experienced technician and the right tools for the job are essential. Between the windshield and the frame of the car, a layer of rubberized or rubber-like weather stripping firmly holds the windshield in place. When replacing a windshield, the first step is to remove this gasket.

Using a sharp tool, a windshield replacement technician will first remove any exterior trim around the windshield, then cut and pull away the flexible weather stripping. Depending on the make and model, the rear view mirror, windshield wiper arms and some sections of exterior trim may need to be temporarily removed to facilitate the replacement process. Using suction cups and other special tools, the damaged windshield is then removed.

After cleaning up any remaining debris in the windshield frame, a coating of adhesive is then applied to the body of the vehicle or the windshield itself to ensure the new glass is correctly to the vehicle’s frame. The new glass is then lifted and set into place.

Many auto glass companies can provide windshield replacement at your home or office. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Stephen M.)

Many auto glass companies can provide windshield replacement at your home or office. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Stephen M.)

Windshield repairs

If you’ve noticed a smaller crack or chip in your windshield, should you have the windshield replaced or can it be repaired? It depends on a number of factors:

1. Location

Crack or chips at the edges of a windshield will likely require that the windshield be replaced rather than repair. This type of damage weakens the structural integrity of the windshield as a whole. Another factor is if the damaged section interferes with the driver’s ability to see out the windshield.

2. Size

In general, if the crack or chip can be covered completely by a business card, the damage can be repaired. Some shops may repair larger cracks or damage.

3. Type of damage

Cracks or chips must be fairly small to be repaired as mentioned above. But they also must be contained to the outermost layer of glass. If a chip or crack penetrates all the way from the exterior of the glass to the interior, replacement may be necessary. Additionally, spider web type cracks typically warrant windshield replacement.

4. Amount of time since damage occurred

If you want to save yourself the cost of replacement by having your windshield repaired instead, get it repaired quickly. Accumulating dirt and other debris can enter a cracked or chipped windshield, causing the crack or chip to widen. In colder climes, water entering a chip or crack can quickly expand the damage when temperatures dip below freezing.

How professional windshield repairs are accomplished

When a windshield gets a chip or crack, you should take care of it immediately before it can spread and cause further damage. A professional first inspects the windshield to determine if it is feasible to repair it instead of replacing it. When repairing the glass appears to be the best option, the expert normally fills the hole or ding with a unique, colorless polymer resin. A film bonded to the glass layers of a windshield keeps the glass from shattering if the vehicle has a collision, and repairs must involve the bonded film layer as well as the glass. The special resin material fills and seals the hole or crack along with the space that the chip or crack created between the film and the glass. The specialist then cures the resin and polishes it to restore the windshield with a sturdy, colorless finish that has almost the same quality as it had before the damage occurred.

DIY windshield repair kits vs. hiring a professional

You may be able to repair a minor crack or ding in your windshield with a DIY repair kit. Those kits come with instructions, tools, resin and curing film. However, because the windshield is an important safety feature for a vehicle, it is crucial to do the job correctly, or you may cause further damage to the glass.

Professional technicians:
- Have experience and know the correct pressure to use to keep from cracking the windshield.
- Use resins with superior quality and the right level of viscosity for the temperature of the windshield and the kind of damage on the glass.
- Have professional equipment that helps them fill the hole or crack and the surrounding area completely.
- Know which techniques to use for various types of damage, like cracks, combination breaks, star breaks and bulls-eye breaks.

Tips to avoid windshield damage

Tips to avoid windshield damage

Although windshield damage is often unavoidable, there are some measures drivers can take to proactively prevent damage to their windshields.

1. Keep your distance

Rocks and other road debris being flung into the windshield by a vehicle in front of you is one of the most common causes for windshield damage. Keep a distance of at least three car lengths from the vehicle in front of you. It’s especially important to keep your distance from dump trucks or vehicles carrying loose materials such as soil or stone. Vibrations can cause loose rocks or pebbles to bounce out and strike your windshield.

2. Mow carefully

 The blade on your mower spins at thousands of revolutions per minute – making any object it strikes a powerful projectile. If you park your vehicle outside, always pick up any sticks, rocks or other objects in the yard before mowing to prevent them from becoming projectiles that may strike windshield (or anything else.

3. Only use windshield scrapers to clear ice or snow

Run the vehicle’s defroster for a while to make the ice easier to scrape off the glass. Striking the windshield hard enough to break the ice could break the glass as well.

4. Do not pour hot water on your windshield to melt ice

The sudden temperature increase for  the top layer quickly while the bottom layer remains cold can make the windshield crack. Warm the top and bottom layers at the same time with the defroster to avoid damaging your windshield.

5. Repair minor damage quickly

Even a small chip can turn into a crack and cause further damage when exposed to very hot or very cold weather. Repairing damage early can prevent major problems in the future.

6. Check your windshield regularly

You may not notice tiny chips in your windshield unless you look for them. Make it a habit to examine the glass every time you wash the windshield to catch any chips that may be lurking there.

Cracked windshield

Depending on the size and location of the damage, some windshields (not this one) can be repaired rather than replaced. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List members Joanne & Mike T.)

Tips to avoid windshield damage

Although windshield damage is often unavoidable, there are some measures drivers can take to proactively prevent damage to their windshields.

1. Keep your distance

Rocks and other road debris being flung into the windshield by a vehicle in front of you is one of the most common causes for windshield damage. Keep a distance of at least three car lengths from the vehicle in front of you. It’s especially important to keep your distance from dump trucks or vehicles carrying loose materials such as soil or stone. Vibrations can cause loose rocks or pebbles to bounce out and strike your windshield.

2. Mow carefully

 The blade on your mower spins at thousands of revolutions per minute – making any object it strikes a powerful projectile. If you park your vehicle outside, always pick up any sticks, rocks or other objects in the yard before mowing to prevent them from becoming projectiles that may strike windshield (or anything else.

3. Only use windshield scrapers to clear ice or snow

Run the vehicle’s defroster for a while to make the ice easier to scrape off the glass. Striking the windshield hard enough to break the ice could break the glass as well.

4. Do not pour hot water on your windshield to melt ice

The sudden temperature increase for  the top layer quickly while the bottom layer remains cold can make the windshield crack. Warm the top and bottom layers at the same time with the defroster to avoid damaging your windshield.

5. Repair minor damage quickly

Even a small chip can turn into a crack and cause further damage when exposed to very hot or very cold weather. Repairing damage early can prevent major problems in the future.

6. Check your windshield regularly

You may not notice tiny chips in your windshield unless you look for them. Make it a habit to examine the glass every time you wash the windshield to catch any chips that may be lurking there.

Insurance claims

The high cost of windshield and auto glass replacement typically motivates many drivers to ask whether or not they should file an insurance claim for the cost of repairs. Whether or not you contact your insurance company is a personal decision, but consider answering to the following questions if you're undecided.

1. Does your insurance policy cover windshield replacement or repairs?
You'll need to read the fine print of your auto insurance policy to determine if your repairs are covered or not. If you have a liability only insurance policy, you will most likely be responsible for the cost of the repairs. If you are covered by comprehensive vehicle insurance, it's likely your policy has some provisions for windshield replacement or repairs.

2. Will the repairs cost significantly more than the policy's deductible?
Before contacting your insurance company, you may want to call auto glass repair shops to get several estimates to determine if the cost will exceed your deductible. If the repairs will cost only slightly more than the deductible, consider paying for it out of pocket to avoid filing a claim that may increase your policy's premium.

3. Will filing a claim increase your premium?
If you purchased your policy through an insurance agent, consider calling them first to answer any questions about your auto insurance coverage for windshield damage. An agent should be able to tell if there's a chance your premium will increase based on your driving history and the initiation of a new claim for windshield damage.

4. Does your insurance policy cover repairs?
Some auto insurance products will cover the cost of windshield repairs (not full replacement) at 100 percent. Check your policy or with your agent.

Window tinting

One popular window option for your car is to have the windows tinted.

People choose to install window film to reduce heat absorption and for aesthetic purposes.

There are several degrees of shading available, but make sure you choose one that isn't darker than what's allowed by local ordinances.

MORE: Click Here to Learn More about Window Tinting

Auto Windshields & GlassCar Washes & Auto Detailing
Washing your car’s windows may sound like a relatively easy task, until you’re repeatedly left with unsightly streaks.
Auto Body RepairAuto Parts & AccessoriesAuto Sales & FinancingAuto TiresAuto TowingAuto Upholstery & InteriorsAuto Windshields & GlassCar Washes & Auto DetailingGeneral Auto Repair
Buying a car? Selling a car? Keeping up car maintenance on the car you own? We've compiled our vast library of auto stories in one handy guide.
Auto ElectronicsAuto Parts & AccessoriesAuto Windshields & GlassGeneral Auto Repair
You car's power windows can malfunction for a number or reasons. Highly rated mechanics discuss common reasons windows stop working and what you should do.
Auto ElectronicsAuto Parts & AccessoriesAuto Windshields & GlassGeneral Auto Repair
Some car problems require a visit to the mechanic, but it's possible to troubleshoot others on your own.
Auto Body RepairAuto ElectronicsAuto Parts & AccessoriesAuto TiresAuto Windshields & GlassGeneral Auto RepairOil Changes & Car Maintenance
Your car is at risk for big winter problems and damage: everything from falling snowdrifts to cracked hoses. Here's what to watch for when it gets cold.
 
Close

FOLLOW US ON

Local Offers <
Deals
Trending <