A car windshield is something you usually don’t think too much about until a stone or other object is kicked up off the road and cracks it. It can be a startling and often dangerous occurrence that may leave you with an unexpected auto glass repair or replacement.
There are several factors to consider at that point, mainly whether it is safe to simply have the windshield repaired, or if it should be an auto glass replacement? Since it isn’t one you face often, drivers may also have other questions about the process. Unlike an oil change, a windshield issue may only happen once in your vehicle’s lifetime.
Can the Windshield Be Repaired?
After the damage has been done and you’ve recovered from the surprise of an object striking the windshield, your first thought might be, “How do I get this repaired?” There is another question, however, that really should precede that one.
“Should it be repaired at all?” Your first concern should always be the safety of not only yourself, but also for your family and passengers. Your windshield does more than protect you from the wind. It improves the structural integrity of the car and helps when there is a rollover. The windshield also acts as a backstop for the airbags when they engage and it directs the bag away from the passengers head and face.
It may be less expensive to repair the windshield and that is always a factor to consider. However, that might merely be a short-term fix, one that may have to be corrected by an auto glass shop at an even greater expense later.
Before reading on, check to see if your state levies fines on car owners for damaged windshields. The answer to that question can help solve the dilemma about repairing or replacing in many cases.
Here are a few other considerations to be mindful of when making your decision:
Size (Or Shape) Of a Chip in the Glass
Small chips may be candidates for repair. But how do you define “small”? We recommend using the quarter test to determine this. Place a quarter over any chip. If it’s smaller than the coin, go with a repair. If the chip is larger than the quarter (or more than 1.25 inches), it’s best to replace the windshield. A chip may seem fine at first, but they tend to expand simply from the normal movement of the car.
The following types of damage can be repaired without removing the windshield:
- Circular bullseyes
- Linear cracks
- Crack chips
- Star-shaped breaks
Keep in mind, if a windshield has been repaired once already, it should not be repaired again. It will have to be replaced.
Location of the Damage
Anything directly in the line of sight of the driver should be replaced, especially if the crack is longer than a dollar bill. In addition, chips or cracks that extend to the outer edge of the glass should also be replaced, instead of repaired.
If the damage extends over a rain sensor or interior radio antenna, the windshield must be replaced in order to restore those functions.
Depth of the Chip or Crack
Modern windshields are usually made of laminated safety glass, made up of two curved sheets of glass with a plastic layer laminated between them for safety. It is then bonded into the window frame.
If a chip or crack doesn’t penetrate the inner layer of plastic and doesn’t exceed the sizes mentioned above, the windshield can be repaired. But if the damage goes through the plastic (or deeper), it’s best to replace the windshield.
Dealing with cracks is a bit more complicated than chips. The glass can separate along cracks. Extremes of heat and cold can result in expansion or contraction in the glass, and over time, dirt can make cracks grow.
Composition of the Glass
If the glass is tempered instead of laminated, it should be replaced.
Now that you have more information, check with your insurance company about the coverage you have on your car for windshield damage. It is often possible to get the windshield replaced at no cost to you, the owner.
Discuss the situation with your trusted shop for auto glass in Tucson and their mechanics, too. They can add valuable information and insight to help you make the decision to repair or replace.
Cost of Windshield Repairs or Replacement
The cost of this work may also determine whether you are able to have the glass repaired or replaced. Prices vary over time depending on location, the type of repair, and the glass used, of course, but in looking at some averages, the range is $60 to $100 for a small chip repair. A crack may cost $125 and up.
Window replacement averages between $250 to $450. The same factors as above will affect this cost: location and vehicle, make and model. However, in replacing the windshield, there are some other factors to consider. If your car has an advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) which uses a camera mounted behind the windshield, the system must be recalibrated once a new glass is installed. This may add to the total of the bill once the job has been completed.
OEM vs OEE Glass
Another factor that contributes to the cost is the type of glass used. The original glass used to manufacture the windshield is labeled as a Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) windshield. Prices for OEM glass in replacements run 40% to 60% higher than OEE (Original Equipment Equivalent) glass. An advantage to using OEM glass, even though it is more costly, is the warranty it carries. Plus,OEM glass is simply safer in subsequent crashes and collisions.
Bring this up with your auto glass shop before the work is started. You don’t want to be surprised at the end of the repair with a higher than expected bill.
Insurance and Windshields
Insurance companies differ on the use of OEM vs. OEE glass in windshield coverage. Some pay for OEM only on cars that are a year or two old, so check with your insurance company about your glass replacement coverage.
Cut Rate Shops
One word of caution here. Avoid cut rate shops offering deals that seem too good to be true. The glass and the service may be sub-standard, leaving you with glass containing distortions and frustration in general. Your safety has no price tag and shouldn’t be sold to the lowest bidder.
DIY Windshield Repair
You may also have the temptation to try to repair a chip or ding yourself with a DIY kit. This is a repair that requires the attention of a professional, mainly because the cost of an error is high. A glass shop can perform repairs if they have the knowledge to determine which cracks and dings are suitable for repair. You, however, may invest in a kit and do the work, only to find that the repair isn’t adequate, or it may even be unsafe. This can result in you having to start over and return to the glass shop anyway, which will increase your cost.
Windshield Repair 101
There are 3 different methods typically used to deal with windshield glass damage which are:
Think of this as merely a DIY adhesive bandage for a chip or ding. It is not used by glass professionals because the repair doesn’t actually reach down into the defect. If you have a chip or small crack, the patch is smoothed over the area and then allowed to cure. It hardens and somewhat strengthens the area. However, it does not strengthen the class. It is simply holding it together to keep it from cracking any further.
Most glass pros use this method to repair chips and cracks in your windshield. The resin is injected into the damaged area and heat is applied to harden the resin. As it heats, the resin expands to fill in any chips or cracks. In this case, it not only prevents the crack or chip from spreading, but it does strengthen the surrounding glass, too.
As discussed earlier, there are a few types of windshield damage that should not be repaired. In these instances, the old windshield is removed and a new piece is inserted. This is not a job for a DIY mechanic. It should be left to the professionals.
Rear Window Replacement
The next largest window in your vehicle is the rear windshield. You may not notice a ding or small crack in this window right away since your view while driving won’t be obstructed. Or larger-scale damage can occur due to theft or accidents. In fact, accidents are the number one reason for damage to the rear window of a car.
Whatever caused the damage, it must be fixed as soon as possible, especially if it was caused by theft or an accident. The car simply isn’t secure with a broken back window. Rain and other weather elements can further damage the interior of your vehicle if the window is shattered. It also impairs your vision out the back window.
Your rear windshield typically cannot be repaired; it will need to be replaced. This is because they are made from tempered glass, as opposed to the laminate glass that is used in the front. With few exceptions, the rear windshield will need to be replaced instead of repaired. Make sure to take your car to a quality auto glass repair shop. A poor job not only decreases your safety, but also your comfort inside the car.
The following are two other items that must be considered:
- Rear defrost systems will add to the cost of the repair.
- A rear windshield antenna runs wires between the layers of glass and are also costly to repair. Sometimes they can’t be repaired at all.
The cost will depend on your insurance coverage, too. Keep in mind that rear window replacements generally cost less than front windshield replacements. Call your agent and find out if your insurance will pay for some or all of the damage. Then you can decide how you want to handle the job.
Side Window Replacement
Damage to side windows is often caused by the same things as the back window: attempted theft or accidents. Repairs are possible, but not often recommended because damage done to side windows is often too large to repair. In most cases, the window must be replaced in order to secure the car.
The cost may be covered by your insurance, so call your agent and find out about your coverage. If it doesn’t pay all of it, you may still only have to pay a small amount of the total bill.
The Shop You Choose Makes a Difference
Finally, you need to choose your auto glass shop carefully. Ask questions to determine:
- Does the shop use high-quality urethane adhesive? Glass pros know that inferior adhesives won’t set quickly. This could endanger you and your passengers. Some of the things that determine which to use are temperature, vehicle manufacturer, and drive-away time.
- Does the auto glass company have the proper certifications? When a shop follows strict quality, training, and installation guidelines, it will be certified by AGRSS, the Auto Glass Safety Council.
- Does the auto glass company have liability and workers comp insurance? This protects you from anything that may happen during the repair of your vehicle.
- Does the company warranty their work? A high-quality company should stand behind their work, so look for a lifetime warranty as long as you own the vehicle. This gives you confidence both as the shop does the work and into the future.
It’s easy to fall into the “do it quick” trap when your windshield is broken. But do your research on not only the company, but also the products they use and their technicians. Shop around if you need to, read reviews, and ask lots of questions until you find a shop that meets your needs.
Make an appointment at Max Auto Glass, the best auto glass repair shop in Tucson!