Your vehicle’s windshield, sometimes also called the windscreen, is one of its most essential safety components. Aside from protecting you from the elements as you are driving and acting as your main visibility pane, it also helps maintain the integrity of your vehicle in the event of an accident and helps the front and side airbags deploy properly.
For as big of a role as your windshield plays, it is also one of the components on your vehicle that is most vulnerable to damage. Windshield repair is an extremely common need among vehicle owners, and the chances are high that you will need it done at least once in your time driving.
Having a basic level of knowledge about windshield repair—including types of windshield damage, how professionals repair a windshield, when it can be repaired, and when it needs replacement—will give you the confidence to handle the need for repair when it comes up
Read on for everything you need to know about windshield repair.
The Type of Glass Your Windshield Is Made of
Your vehicle’s windshield is not made of standard window glass. The windshield is designed to provide maximum protection to you and your passengers, so most vehicle windshields are made of laminated safety glass, which is much stronger than ordinary window glass.
A laminated glass windshield consists of two curved sheets of glass with a polyvinyl butyral (PVB) interlayer between them. The three layers are bonded together to form one uniform piece. The windshield is then bonded into the window frame to stay securely in place.
Laminated glass is known for providing exceptional resistance against severe impact. If the windshield does experience extreme impact, the glass will “shatter,” but the PVB interlayer keeps the glass layers together. This prevents the windshield from flying apart and/or breaking into large, dangerously sharp pieces like ordinary glass.
Common Types of Damage to Vehicle Windshields
There are many different types of chips, cracks, and breaks that can happen to your windshield. The exact type of damage that happens is largely dependent on where the object strikes the windshield and how big it is.
Here are some of the most common types of damage:
Ding or Chip: This is when a small object hits your windshield, and a tiny piece is taken out of the glass. Small chips like this will spread over time, cracking outward from their center and growing into a larger affected area.
Bulls-eye and Partial Bulls-eye: These are circular and semi-circular surface-level cracks or chips caused by a circular object hitting the glass.
Pit: This is a small crater-like patch that forms over time as dust or sand particles hit the glass and wear it down.
Edge Crack: This type of crack occurs at the perimeter of the windshield, within three inches of the outer edge. If something hits this area and causes a crack, it will often end up being a long, winding crack that usually results in needing to have the windshield replaced.
Stress Crack: This type of crack does not involve the impact of another object hitting the windshield. Stress cracks can happen when the glass experiences a quick, extreme temperature change.
What to Do and Not Do if You Notice Damage to Your Windshield
Despite all the best efforts, your windshield may still suffer damage. Knowing what you should or should not do next can mean the difference between an easy repair and a total windshield replacement.
Here are some dos and don’ts to keep in mind if you discover that your windshield has been damaged:
- Do safely get off the road and assess any damage: If a rock or other object hits the windshield while driving, safely pull off the road to a safe spot as soon as possible and check the damage. You want to make sure that the damage isn’t obstructing your view.
- Do get the windshield repaired ASAP: If your windshield is damaged, you want to have it repaired as soon as possible. Ignoring it can quickly mean even more damage and possibly needing to have the windshield replaced.
- Don’t try to repair the damage yourself: From superglue to DIY glass repair kits, these do-it-yourself solutions only temporarily fix windshield damage. Even if the glue or other solution slows down the spread of the glass damage, it will not be a permanent fix. A professional auto glass technician should repair the glass.
- Don’t rely on your auto mechanic to repair the damage: Your regular auto mechanic is the right person to do the brake repair service you need or replace your broken radiator. That doesn’t mean they should be repairing your damaged windshield. As mentioned above, this type of repair service should be left to someone who specializes in auto glass repair and replacement.
Determining if the Windshield Can Be Repaired
Several variables need to be considered when trying to determine if your damaged windshield can be repaired. Not all types of damage require replacing the whole windshield, but not all types of damage can be repaired.
Here are the different things that will need to be considered when the windshield damage is being evaluated:
Impact on Visibility While Driving
If the glass damage reduces your ability to see clearly while driving, it is a big safety risk, putting you and your passengers at an increased risk for an accident. Plus, in some states, it’s illegal to drive your vehicle this way. If the crack or other damage is within your line of vision, windshield repair service usually is not recommended.
Size of the Chip or Crack
The size of the damage to the glass is one of the biggest determining factors for windshield repair versus replacement. In general, the windshield can be repaired if:
- The crack is less than a dollar bill in length.
- The chip is an inch in diameter or less.
- There are not more than two connecting hairline cracks.
Keep in mind that a small crack can quickly grow in size when the windshield heats up during the hot Arizona months. If damage isn’t repaired quickly, you could end up needing replacement to maintain your safety.
Depth of the Chip
If the windshield damage has penetrated through the middle vinyl layer or even the second inner layer of glass, the windshield will have to be replaced. Also, if the interior glass layer has been damaged, even if there is no damage to the external layer, replacing the windshield is usually recommended.
Location of the Damage
Another significant factor in determining whether windshield repair can be done or not is the location of the glass damage. The most important thing to note is any damage located anywhere along the outer edge; even if there’s only one crack or the damage is small, replacement is recommended.
Damage located along the windshield’s edge can grow in size quickly under the constant wind force while you are driving. This compromises the windshield’s structural integrity and poses a significant safety risk to you and your passengers.
As mentioned above, windshield replacement is also highly recommended if the damage to your glass is in your line of sight while driving.
If you are not sure if your windshield can be repaired or if replacement is needed, our auto glass experts here at Max Auto Glass can help you make the best decision.
The Importance of Prompt Windshield Repair When Damage Occurs
Your first concern should be being able to drive your vehicle safely. Usually, it is not dangerous to drive with a cracked windshield for a short distance. But it is very important to have it addressed as soon as possible.
Once it becomes damaged, the glass is weakened, and it will no longer be able to provide a sufficient level of protection for you or your passengers if you are involved in a collision.
Also, damage can quickly get worse if it is ignored for a long time. Water will be pulled in by surface tension and will make its way into a chip in the glass. If a chip goes through the top layer, moisture can delaminate the glass from the center PVB layer. When this happens, the windshield will fog, causing a much bigger problem. Also, water can freeze in a chip, causing it to expand or even crack the glass further. Finally, water can bring dirt along with it into the chip or crack. When that happens, there’s no way to flush it out, causing further damage.
Many vehicle owners delay needed windshield repairs because they do not want to spend the money. But, as you can see, if you wait, the damage will only get worse, leading to windshield replacement, which is much more expensive than a minor repair service.
Weather Conditions & a Damaged Windshield Can Make Things Worse
A windshield in proper condition will help seal your vehicle, keeping the weather outside and the temperature controlled on the inside. As mentioned above, you run the risk of water getting into the vehicle with a damaged windshield. Plus, if your windshield is cracked, it can make maintaining the interior temperature more difficult and force your vehicle’s air conditioner and heater to work extra hard.
In the winter, the colder temperatures can significantly accelerate the cracking process on a damaged windshield. As the cracks expand, more cold air enters the vehicle, prohibiting the windshield defroster from working properly and making it hard to see.
As you can see, the weather can significantly impact a damaged windshield and make driving with one even more difficult.
Ways to Deal with Windshield Damage
With windshield glass damage, there are three different methods typically used to address the issue, which are:
A windshield patch is simply a DIY clear adhesive bandage that is put over a chip or ding. Auto glass professionals do not use this method because the repair doesn’t reach down into the defect. When using a windshield patch, it is smoothed over the affected area and allowed to cure. It hardens and protects the affected area. However, it does not strengthen the glass itself. It is simply keeping it from cracking any further.
Most auto glass professionals use this method for cracked or chipped windshield repair. A clear resin is carefully injected into the damaged area, and heat is then used to harden the resin. As it heats up, the resin expands, filling in any chips or cracks. This method not only prevents the damage from spreading but also strengthens the surrounding glass, restoring the integrity of the windshield.
As mentioned above, there are times when a damaged windshield should not be repaired. In these cases, the old windshield is removed, and a new one is installed. Windshield replacement is not a DIY job. Only experienced professionals should do it.
Leave Repairs to Auto Glass Professionals
As with windshield replacement, you should always seek an auto glass professional when you need to repair a chipped or cracked windshield. DIY quick-fix solutions may be tempting, but they can worsen the damage, costing you more money and time.
When you trust the professionals, you can be confident that your windshield is in good hands. A trained windshield expert has the specialized knowledge and experience needed to handle windshield damage properly and will determine the best course of action for you to take.
Auto glass professionals can check the damage and inform you whether a repair is possible or if a replacement is needed. Either way, they will do the job to meet industry-best standards while also following all safety measures. Therefore, opting for professional windshield solutions is crucial.
What Happens During a Windshield Repair Service?
When you bring your vehicle in for professional glass repair, it usually won’t take more than about 30 to 40 minutes. Here at Max Auto Glass, we use a vacuum pressure repair process, which follows these steps:
- Any air trapped within the damaged area is released by drilling a tiny hole through the top layer of glass or by scraping out the tiny glass particles.
- The glass resin injector tool will then be tightly secured around the damaged area.
- The tool seals the area and cycles between pressure and vacuum to carefully infuse a curable clear resin into the damage of the outer glass layer. This restores the glass’ structure and appearance.
- After the injector tool is removed, any excess resin is removed from the area.
- The glass resin is then cured and hardened with UV light, which changes it from a liquid to a solid.
- Finally, the repaired area is cleaned and polished as necessary, making it almost invisible and restoring the windshield’s integrity.
What to Expect After Windshield Repair
Knowing what to expect after windshield repair can be helpful. This includes:
- A slightly scarred repair area: Even the best chip repair can’t totally restore the glass to its original appearance. Expect a slight “scar” where the repair is done. But it will hardly be noticeable unless you are looking for it. Most importantly, you won’t have to worry about the crack spreading anymore.
- No aftercare necessary: The resin used to do a windshield chip repair cures quickly, and it’s already cured when the area is polished. So, this means that when you pick up your vehicle, no windshield aftercare is necessary.
Benefits of Windshield Repair
When you have professional windshield repair done at Max Auto Glass, you’ll benefit in three important ways:
- Convenience: It usually takes less than an hour to repair a windshield versus replacement that can take several hours. You also don’t have to worry about any aftercare.
- Affordability: The cost of windshield repair is often covered by your insurance and is far less expensive than a full replacement.
- Environmentally friendly: Having your chipped windshield repaired keeps it in service longer, extending the time before it ends up in a landfill.
The Cost of Windshield Repair
Estimates for windshield repair service can vary greatly. What you will end up paying will depend on several factors, including:
- Size and shape of the damage
- Location of the damage
- Type of vehicle
- Insurance coverage
The good thing is many auto insurance companies cover the cost of windshield repairs in full, often with no deductible. After all, they would much rather pay for a windshield repair than a much more expensive replacement of the entire windshield. Professional auto glass shops will gladly provide a quote for services, and the good ones will work directly with your vehicle’s insurance carrier to help take care of the claim process for you.
Key Points About Windshield Repair Insurance
If your windshield is damaged, you may not have to cover the repair cost yourself. Before going to the repair shop, check with your vehicle insurance agent about the glass coverage you may or may not have.
Here are a few general things to know about windshield repair/replacement and insurance:
- If you have comprehensive coverage, collision insurance, or full glass repair coverage, your insurance will pay for your windshield repair.
- If you’re involved in an accident that is not your fault, the other driver’s liability insurance will cover the cost of your windshield repair or replacement.
- Most insurance companies will waive your comprehensive deductible if the windshield only needs to be repaired versus replaced. (Don’t be afraid to ask!)
- Your insurance premium will not be affected by filing an auto glass coverage claim with your provider.
- If the damage to your windshield is significant or poses a safety risk, it will need to be completely replaced. This may still be fully covered under your insurance policy.
How to Make Sure You Choose a Quality Auto Glass Repair Shop
It’s important to carefully choose your auto glass shop to ensure you get high-quality mobile windshield repair service you can trust. So, don’t be afraid to ask questions, including:
- Are the shop and its technicians properly certified? A shop that follows strict quality, training, and service guidelines will usually be both AGSC-Certified (Auto Glass Safety Council™) and Dow-Certified.
- Does the shop have liability and workers comp insurance? This coverage protects you from anything that may happen while your windshield is being serviced.
- Is the work warrantied? A high-quality shop will stand behind their work, so ask about what the warranty coverage may be. This will give you the confidence in knowing you’ve found an auto glass shop that you can trust.
- Are high-quality resin and urethane adhesives used? Glass pros know that inferior supplies won’t perform well. This could endanger you and the passengers in your vehicle.
Trust the Auto Glass Experts in Tucson
Many people do not realize just how important the windshield is until it’s damaged. It can be very easy to take it for granted when it’s in good condition and there are no cracks or chips. But if your windshield does end up damaged, with the information above, you’ll be prepared and know exactly what to do.
Whether you need windshield repair or replacement, it needs to be addressed as soon as possible if the glass is damaged. This will prevent the damage from getting worse and ensure that you and your vehicle’s passengers stay safe.
At Max Auto Glass, our windshield experts only use high-quality equipment and follow international safety standards, whether it is a windshield repair or replacement. Not sure whether you need repair or replacement? Our technicians can help you make that determination.
Contact us today, and we’ll go over what the best solution is for your damaged windshield, and we’ll have you back on the road as quickly and safely as possible.