So, you ended up having a dime-sized chip from a bouncing rock, right in front of your eyes, obstructing your view and making driving a challenging experience from now on. The problem with chips, besides blocking your vision when driving, is that they usually spread to the point that they are no longer repairable and require the heavy armory. But, how can you tell when you need to repair or replace your windshield? With the latest advancements in modern technology and new methods to fix a damaged windshield coming forward, we understand your concerns. Why pay for a windshield replacement when it can be repaired, right? And, why repair it if you are better off in terms of safety with a replacement? For that reason, we are here to help clarify things so you can make more educated decisions.
How to Tell Whether I Need a Repair?
Technology has gone a long way since the times when a chip or crack in a windshield went hand-in-hand with certain replacement. Now, with it being no longer the case, windshields that would have been scrapped can now be repaired. However, it all depends on the size, severity of the damage done, and, of course, the location. Regardless of how advanced glass repair techniques are, they do not give super powers to those owning them.
We can safely say that chips the size of a quarter, as well as cracks no longer than 3 inches, are repairable. For severely damaged windshield (i.e. multiple cracks in many different locations or bigger-sized chips), you will probably not be able to avoid having a new glass.
That being said, there are some facilities around the country that claim they can fix cracks up to 12 inches long, using a special technique. You can also find professional windshield repair kits that boast repairing cracks up to 24 inches long with the use of Dual Injector Technology. So, check around before making a final decision and committing to windshield replacement.
Now, when it comes to the location of the crack or chip, cracks at the edge of the windshield usually call for drastic measures as they tend to spread like wildfire. This is particularly dangerous as it compromises your driving safety. The structural integrity of the windshield is nothing to be taken lightly as it protects you from getting darted outside the car in the unfortunate case of a collision or accident while preventing the roof of the car from being squashed flat under impact. If you catch a crack or chip in time, chances are they can be repaired. But, make sure you find a trusted professional who will give you an honest opinion.
If the damage is done near the driver’s line of vision (even worse, directly in it), any repairs done in that area will leave slight distortions in the glass. In this case, we suggest you go with a windshield replacement just to be on the safe side.
Don’t let the crack or chip accumulate dirt. Instead, act as quickly as possible and have it repaired. If left unattended for a long time, the dirt will work its way deeper down the affected area and prevent the repair from being 100% effective.
Be prepared to have your windshield replaced if you have been hit by a big object or was involved in an accident that has caused significant damage to the glass.
Major Factors that Determine Cost
The amount of money required for an auto glass repair does not have huge deviations. A quick survey of the most notable windshield repair facilities across the country has shown that the average cost of repairing a single chip is around $50 and an extra $10-$15 for every additional one, which is more or less that same with repairing cracks up to 3 inches long. Cracks longer than 3 inches cost a bit more because they usually call for special treatment. So, getting them fixed will cost you around $70 (for up to 12 inches long).
As for the auto glass replacement cost, we noticed some great variations. It all has to do with the type of vehicle to be treated, because charges, such as installation labour cost and windshield molding kit cost, add to the cost of the windshield itself. To give you an idea, the representative replacement cost (includes molding, windshield, and installation) for a BMW 540i is about $650 (dealer price) or $550 (automotive glass shop price) while the corresponding cost for a Ford Explorer is $1,300 and $400 respectively.
You probably have noticed the difference in cost between an auto glass shop and a dealer. This is attributed to the fact that dealers usually use an OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) windshield. This means they are installing a windshield that is the exact same glass the car came with originally. Independent glass shops, on the other hand, mainly use non-OEM windshield, which cuts costs a great deal. Non-OEM glass has to meet the same safety standards as OEM glass and offers safety, quality, and clarity at a lower price. What is crucial when using a non-OEM glass, though, is to ONLY use sealers and adhesives recommended by the OEM. This is because some glass shops use urethane of inferior quality which can cause the glass to de-attach during an accident.
Who Can Repair or Replace your Windshield?
Based on what you really need, you can browse the Yellow Pages (Windshield Repair or Auto Glass Repair search) and seek help from:
An automotive glass facility. They specialise in the replacement and repair of windshield and auto windows. In most cases, they will exhaust all means before recommending windshield replacement.
Alternatively, you could consider your local new car dealer, who will either have a mobile glass service provider* (they sub-contract with new car dealers sometimes) come at the car dealer’s facility and replace the windshield, or replace the windshield themselves (usually using OEM windshield).
* They come to you (wherever you are) and make the repair or perform a replacement on the spot instead of having to drive to their facilities.
Other sources to look at include independent, nationally-franchised windshield repair facilities that only specialise in auto glass repairs and NOT replacements.
How Much is Covered by Your Insurance?
Delivering good news here as the majority of automotive insurance companies will cover windshield repair or replacement works. However, they do have a different course of action between repairs and replacements, primarily due to the much higher replacement costs (up to 10X the cost of windshield repair). So, they will cover the complete replacement while you will be called to pay your deductible, in case you need to replace your windshield. For repairs, some of them will pay for the repair in full without asking you to pay your deductible. Of course, the latter option is much more money saving than the first one (for both you and them) and encourages vehicle owners to opt for windshield repair rather than replacement if the glass has chips or cracks.
Final Note: Don’t forget to confirm the terms of your coverage (check with your insurance agent) before agreeing to any work.
So, although there are many new technologies providing repair solutions to damaged windshields, for your safety and the safety of those in your car, be absolutely certain that your vehicle does not need to have its windshield replaced. So, ask a qualified glass specialist to inspect the damage and let you know which option is best for your particular case.