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.

On one end you have organizations who manufacture the resin and windshield repair equipment who would say you can repair on most cases.

On the other end you have windshield manufacturers and insurance companies who would rather have you replace the entire windshield.

If you’re like most of us, you’ll want to fall right in the middle and use your best judgement to make the right decision on whether you should repair or replace your windshield.

This article will cover in detail all of the pros and cons of either side of this scale.

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.

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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.

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:

WINDSHIELD REPAIR Pros

  • No risk of a bad installation
  • A faulty repair is usually visible and easier to detect

WINDSHIELD REPLACEMENT Pros

  • A brand new windshield means a strong windshield surface similar (or better) than factory installed windshield
  • No visible flaws in the field of view

WINDSHIELD REPAIR Cons

  • The sign of a crack after repair shows that the strength of the windshield is certainly compromised
  • There is not enough evidence to support that a repaired windshield is as strong as a new windshield in case of impact (accident)
  • Visual flaws on the windshield after repair could refract light or distort driver’s view and become potentially dangerous

WINDSHIELD REPLACEMENT Cons

  • A bad installation can result in water leaks, winds noise, or unsafe vehicle

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

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.

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!