Should I repair or replace my windshield? (2023)

Should I repair or replace my windshield?

One of the most common questions we get is “How can I know if my windshield can be repaired instead of replacing the entire thing?”

There are multiple answers for this, depending on who you talk to.

What is a windshield REPAIR?

A windshield repair involves the application of a clear resin that cures into the outer layer of windshield glass. Repairing a windshield is typically done in attempt to restore the integrity – strength – of the windshield glass and to eliminate it’s faulty appearance. When properly done, a windshield repair can leave a smooth, invisible surface and the crack is unable to spread or further the damage.

DIY windshield repair kits purchased at stores like AutoZone may be somewhat effective. But without the right tools and experience, you may end up further damaging your windshield or leaving distracting marks and curvatures on your windshield that obstruct your driving view and turn out dangerous.

Professional windshield repair is a professional trade. And like most trades it takes time, practice, and patience to master. Windshield technicians dedicate their lives to the trade and hold their expertise to high regards.

I would always recommend using a professional to perform the work on your windshield. Trying to do this yourself could end up costing you money and being a recipe for disaster.

(Video) Windshield Repair vs. Replacement Q&A With Safelite

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What is a windshield REPLACEMENT?

A windshield replacement is the complete removal of a vehicle’s windshield, old bonding agents, trims, and gaskets and the reapplication of new bonding agents (adhesives), gaskets, trims, along with the installation of a new windshield. When properly installed, a windshield replacement should restore the vehicle’s safety to its original manufacturer’s standards (or better).

Just like windshield repairs, having your windshield replaced should be done professionally by an experienced windshield technician. There is recommended professional equipment needed to perform a windshield installation that is not cheap!

Take the urethane glue gun, for instance. It is a necessary tool to properly dispense the urethane (glue) at the right temperature before installing the new windshield.

Also, a windshield replacement involves the proper detachments of wires and cables that connect to rearview mirrors and windshield components, such as windshield defrost, heads-up display, auto rain sensors, and the list goes on…

A faulty windshield replacement may result in water leaks ( inside your vehicle ), the experience of wind noise, and if the windshield is not properly sealed to the vehicle, it could lead to dangerous results in the case of an accident.

We will go over some of these risk below.

So let’s address the safety concerns over each case.

Safety

There are safety concerns whether you are either repairing or replacing a windshield. I know this doesn’t make your choice any easier, but it’s worth considering.

Did you know that windshields are a safety device for you car in case of an accident? Much like seat belts and airbags, your windshield plays a major role on safety.

In the days of old, windshields were made of just one standard piece of glass. This is until various lawsuits finally led up to the development of the better windshields.

(Video) Know what to expect when you repair your windshield with Safelite AutoGlass

The first improvement was the development of a type of safe glass that shattered into tiny, harmless pieces. The problem with that type of windshield is that it could shatter with the simple chip of a stone.

In 1919 Henry Ford decided to use a technology developed by the French called glass laminating. This technology uses two pieces of glass and binds them together by a cellulose (or plastic) layer. Not only did the lamination of the glass keep it from shattering into pieces, but – while it was now glued to the frame of the car – it also combined with the overall structure of the car to make it more sturdy and safer.

I’m a big fan of the show “How It’s Made,” so here is an episode showing how windshields are made.

Over the years auto manufacturers began developing safety features like airbags, and today most vehicles depend on the integrity of the windshield in order to successfully protect the driver and passenger with its airbags in case of an accident.

In other words, when the airbag deploys it props itself against the windshield in order to support the passenger during the impact.

If the windshield is cracked or has been improperly installed, the airbag will not get proper support from the windshield and lack in the level of safety it provides in an accident.

So if your windshield is cracked, or the crack has not been properly repaired, there is a risk that your windshield will not function as safely as a new windshield.

There is also a risk that your windshield won’t hold up well if it was improperly replaced. This is because the binding agent that secures the windshield to the car frame (called urethane) must be properly installed without interruptions or gaps, or it may dramatically reduce the windshields effectiveness against an air bag in the event of an accident.

So when it comes to Safety:

The bottom line on safety:

The best safety result is to have a windshield replacement done by a seasoned and experienced professional. You may ask questions to your local auto glass shop, such as “How many years of experience does your technician have?” and “How long have they been employed by your company?”

CLICK HERE TO BOOK YOUR AUTO GLASS REPLACEMENT

Size Matters

(Video) How To Install a Windshield the "Right" Way -EricTheCarGuy

When considering a windshield repair or replacement, you should know that there are damages that will not be considered for a repair based on their size.

The most common question asked when determining whether a windshield can be repaired is “Is your damage bigger than a dollar bill?” or “Can you cover your damage with a dollar bill?”

If your windshield crack is larger than the surface of a dollar bill, then your auto insurance company will automatically mark you down for a complete windshield replacement.

Long cracks that run across your windshield are very difficult to repair. Although not impossible, you will also note that at 9:15 on this video he says “The repairs are never gonna be perfectly done. I mean, they are never gonna be crystal clear… You will always be able to see a slight hairline where that crack was.”

Also, “chip” type of breaks cannot be bigger than the size of a quarter. So, if a pretty large object hit your windshield and left a large chip on it, you’d be advised to replace your windshield.

We’ve put together an infographic showing what types of cracks are potentially possible to safely repair, and which may require a replacement.

Overall, there is a big interest in replacing your windshield for auto glass shops, windshield manufacturers, and insurance companies alike .

Auto glass shops make far better markups on a replacement over a repair.

Insurance companies get to raise their rates based on an overall hike on windshield replacement costs. The higher their rates (within reasonable limits in competition), the more they are able to legally collect in profits and administrative pay.

It is obvious why windshield manufacturers may prefer that your replace your windshield, right ?

The bottom line on size:

If your crack is larger than a dollar bill , then you will be asked to replace your windshield. If it is smaller, there may be an attempt to repair it. But there is no guarantee that the crack won’t spread further during the repair, which then will require a full windshield replacement.

Will the windshield crack visually go away after a repair?

On smaller windshield cracks (like the bullseye shown here ) it is very possible to completely eliminate all visual signs of the crack, other than – maybe – a slight pit where the resin was applied to.

Sometimes it is very hard to notice the windshield was repaired at all.

But there are times when even after a repair the crack is still very visible.

(Video) Windshield Replacement - Should I repair or replace my windshield?

It all depends on the type of windshield crack, the experience of the auto glass technician, tools being used, and a pure matter of uncontrolled circumstances (weather, glass behavior, etc).

The costs of repairing of replacing your windshield

In many states – like Florida, South Carolina and Massachusetts – state laws require that insurance companies pay for the full replacement or repair of your windshield, if you carry comprehensive coverage on your vehicle. You can find detailed info about this at the bottom of this article.

Because this is considered a No-Fault claim, replacing or repairing your windshield using your insurance will not generally lead you to higher insurance premiums or cause the risk of having your insurance policy cancelled. Unless you are constantly replacing windshields – in which case you may be rated as a high-risk driver and your premiums may suffer an increase.

However, if you do not live on one of the states that carry this law, or if you do not carry comprehensive coverage on your vehicle, you will have to pay the costs to have your windshield serviced.

How much does it cost to repair my windshield?

Windshield repairs cost anywhere between $70 and $150. This will depend on your geographical location, size of damage, tools being used, etc.

How much does it cost to replace my windshield?

Windshield replacements cost anywhere between $200 and $2,000, sometimes higher.

Of course it depends on the model of your vehicle, the windshield manufacturer you select, and the auto glass shop you pick to do the work.

I hope this article has given you great insight on whether you should repair or replace your windshield, especially if you live in the state of Florida.

AutoTrader also has a pretty beneficial article on this subject.

We are happy to help you in any way to make the best choice.

Stay Safe!

(Video) Should You Replace or Repair Your Windshield?

FAQs

Is it better to repair or replace a cracked windshield? ›

Although there are situations where longer cracks can be repaired, those that are longer than a dollar bill usually require replacement. Similarly, if a chip is larger than a quarter, the windshield needs to be replaced.

Is it worth it to repair a windshield? ›

Absolutely. Repairing versus replacing a windshield maintains the original factory seal. A small chip or crack can often be repaired in just 30 minutes, saving a fleet time and money.

What happens if you don't repair your windshield? ›

A cracked Windshield will Obstruct Your Field of Vision on the Road. While on the road and be safe, you need to have unobstructed visibility. If you don't repair a cracked windshield, the danger is that your field of vision on the road will be obstructed, leading to grave risks.

What size windshield crack can be repaired? ›

Crack Size and Depth:

Usually, auto glass technicians can repair a chip, which has a diameter of around one inch or less. Likewise, a crack is also repairable, if it is no more than three inches long. If the size of the crack is more than that of a dollar bill, you should rule out the repair option.

Is it worth it to use insurance for a cracked windshield? ›

In general, it's worth filing a claim for glass or windshield damage if the repair cost is higher than your car insurance deductible. For example, if your windshield replacement costs $400 and your deductible is $250, you'll only pay $250, and your insurer will pick up the remaining $150.

Will driving with a cracked windshield make it worse? ›

The short answer is yes, a chipped or cracked windshield can get worse if it isn't repaired. Any cracks have the potential to grow due to a number of scenarios: Your windshield glass contracts and expands during extreme temperature fluctuations, especially in the winter, causing cracks to grow.

How often do people replace their windshield? ›

Those who drive frequently can expect windshields to wear out in less than five years. Those that see little to no use will obviously maintain their glass longer.

How long can a broken windshield last? ›

There is no set amount of time to safely drive with a cracked windshield. In some cases, the crack is diminutive and unlikely to spread, making it possible to drive days, weeks or even months without additional damage.

Does a car need to be recalibrated after windshield replacement? ›

For safety and peace of mind, you should always have your windshield recalibrated after every windshield repair and replacement. In addition to recalibrating after a windshield replacement, the ADAS should also be recalibrated after any disconnect, fault code, change of suspension, or wheel alignment.

Why does my windshield chip so easily? ›

The primary causes of windshield chips include airborne rocks, road debris, and inclement weather. In order to avoid a windshield chip from flying rocks or debris in the roadway, it's important to understand when these occurrences are most likely.

Can windshield cracks Be Stopped? ›

Use a Windshield Repair Kit

Next, force the specialized resin from the repair kit into the hole to seal the glass, reduce stress on the windshield, and stop cracks from forming. If you do the job well, this may be the only repair you need.

How do you stop a cracked windshield from spreading? ›

Changes in temperature, exposure to sun, and even wind could cause the crack to expand. The best way to stop the windshield crack from spreading is to park your car inside or under protective covering. This will offer some extra protection until you can get a repair appointment.

What is considered a large windshield crack? ›

The rule of thumb: If you have chips larger than a quarter or cracks longer than 3.5 inches, plan to get a new windshield. Take note that even smaller cracks and chips that are extremely deep may not be fixable!

How fast does a cracked windshield spread? ›

In one day, these cracks will start spreading on a microscopic level. Within a few days, you will see marked differences in the crack with the naked eye.

Do all windshield cracks spread? ›

Smaller chips may not seem like a concern at first, but it is still advisable to have the glass repaired or replaced soon, as the damage could worsen over time. In fact, most windshield cracks do get worse by spreading or splintering over the glass due to changing weather conditions or other debris.

Does Safelite use OEM windshields? ›

Safelite manufactures their own windshields but are not considered an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM). This means they do not have legal permission to manufacture windshields to the exact specifications as the original (thickness, contour, shade, etc).

How worried should I be about a cracked windshield? ›

It's generally not dangerous to drive with a small crack in the windshield, but damaged glass should be repaired or replaced as soon as possible for two important reasons: Windshields weakened by damage provide less protection. Cracked windshields decrease visibility.

What happens when a rock hits your windshield? ›

Visually assess the damaged area and try to figure out how severe the damage is. Generally speaking, if the glass has a chip or crack that is smaller than six inches, your windshield can be repaired. If the crack is larger than six inches, your windshield probably needs to be replaced.

Why you shouldn't drive around with a chipped windshield? ›

View = Safety

However, experts say that drivers driving with a damaged windshield are more likely to get into an accident. That tiny chip can do a lot of damage, distracting and distorting our view of the road. In conclusion, your windshield is vital to your safety and the integrity of your vehicle.

What is the best time of year to replace a windshield? ›

Windshield Crack Repair Resin in the Summer

Clear, warm weather is the most ideal for repairing your windshield. Without rain, wind, or snow and with warm air, the glass repair resin will set and dry faster so you can get your car back on the road faster without having to worry about further damage.

Can you drive a car right after the windshield has been replaced? ›

We know that you have places to go and people to see. But, on average, you should wait approximately an hour before driving after a windshield replacement. The adhesive needs time to set up and dry so that your windshield will provide perfect protection. As for a windshield repair, you will not have to wait at all.

How long should it take to replace windshield? ›

How long will my auto glass repair or replacement take? In many cases, windshield repairs can be performed in 30 minutes or less. Windshield replacements will often take 60 minutes or less; however, we recommend that you do not drive the vehicle for at least one hour after service is completed.

Can you repair a 12 inch windshield crack? ›

A windshield crack that measures a foot in length or shorter is repairable, while a chip is easy to repair if it's an inch or less. The depth of the crack is also important. A crack on the windshield that penetrates only the top layer of glass is repairable.

Will Super Glue stop a windshield crack from spreading? ›

A cheap way to stop a windshield crack from spreading without drilling a hole in the glass is to fill the chip with cyanoacrylate glue, often marketed as Superglue. This temporary fix should hold the crack together for at least a week or two until you can bring your car to Scott's for a more permanent repair.

Does insurance cover recalibration after windshield replacement? ›

The calibration type required after a windshield repair or replacement will also influence the cost. Nevertheless, most auto insurance providers cover the cost of windshield calibration for clients whose policies cover broken glasses.

How much does recalibration of windshield cost? ›

These ADAS calibrations after a windshield replacement require specialized, expensive tools and a lot of training. Additional costs vary by complexity of the recalibration and fees generally range from $25-$250. Considering what goes into it, the ADAS calibration price is a bargain.

Is recalibration covered by insurance? ›

Yes, your insurance will cover the cost with the proper coverages. Yes, many of the calibrations are done in the shop under ideal conditions. These “static” calibrations do not generally need to be tested on the road as all the parameters are tested in the shop.

Is there any stronger windshield to prevent rock chips? ›

ExoShield is a thin film that protects your windshield from stone chip damage and prevents costly replacements.

Should I fix a rock chip in windshield? ›

Even though the damage may seem small, windshield chips of any size should be repaired as soon as possible. Left unfixed, a small chip can grow into a crack that spans the length of the glass.

How do you avoid rock chips on the highway? ›

How to Avoid Rock Chips
  1. Increase Your Following Distance. Depending on where you are, the rules differ for how much following distance is required by law. ...
  2. Reduce Your Speed. ...
  3. Avoid Construction and Gravel Roads as Much As Possible.
13 Oct 2020

Do windshield Repair Kits Work? ›

Q: Do windshield repair kits really work? A: Yes. As long as the windshield damage isn't too extensive and you properly follow the instructions, you can successfully repair a crack or chip. However, it may still be visible; not all repairs are undetectable.

Does Safelite fix big cracks? ›

If your windshield damage is smaller than six inches, we may be able to repair it. Get a windshield repair quote or schedule an appointment online. Does Safelite repair long cracks in the windshield? We will repair cracks that are smaller than six inches.

Do windshield cracks get bigger in the sun? ›

A damaged windshield exposed to sun can get damaged further. The heat transferred through sun rays will be absorbed by the windshield's glass material, causing the cracks and chips to get bigger. Park your car in shade until you get your windshield repaired.

What makes a windshield crack worse? ›

Windshield glass will expand and contract as temperatures go up and down. This weakens the glass and puts added stress on areas with damage. If your vehicle's windshield is cracked or chipped, be on the lookout for increased horizontal spreading in these areas as temperatures drop.

Does cold make windshield cracks bigger? ›

Changes in temperature affect glass — it expands and contracts. If it's desperately cold outside, the glass windshield becomes more concave. This puts stress on any damage, such as a chip or crack, and a windshield crack is likely to spread horizontally.

Do windshield cracks get bigger in the cold? ›

If your windshield does become cracked or chipped, make sure to address the problem immediately. In cold weather, chips and cracks will only get more serious. Cold temperatures and temperature fluctuations almost always result in chips turning into cracks, and cracks becoming bigger and bigger cracks.

How long can you last with a cracked windshield? ›

There is no set amount of time to safely drive with a cracked windshield. In some cases, the crack is diminutive and unlikely to spread, making it possible to drive days, weeks or even months without additional damage.

How quickly do windshield cracks spread? ›

In one day, these cracks will start spreading on a microscopic level. Within a few days, you will see marked differences in the crack with the naked eye.

What happens if my windshield cracks all the way across? ›

You would probably notice something wrong before this happened. Cross-cracking windshields pose a significant safety risk. If your windshield cracks all the way across, ice can build up under the cracked section and cause your windshield to shatter. The safest course of action is to have your windshield repaired.

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