What to Expect When Having Your Windshield Repaired
When you drive, you probably keep a safe following distance between your vehicle and the vehicles in front of you. You likely avoid construction areas whenever possible and give trucks hauling loose objects, like gravel, a little extra space.
But during your daily commute, a semi-truck could still churn up a rock that hits your windshield with a loud crack. The noise and the look of an object flying toward you may startle you, but the real problem will become clear if you notice a small crater where the rock hit your windshield glass.
Luckily, many rock chips like the one in this scenario can be repaired and don’t necessitate windshield replacement. But if you’ve never brought your vehicle in for rock-chip repair before, you may not know what to expect.
In this blog, we walk you through the usual process for eliminating rock-chip damage.
Unlike most glass structures that you encounter in your daily life, like residential windows, vehicle windshields are not made up of a single pane of glass. Instead, windshields consist of several layers that are bonded together. Most modern vehicles have windshields made of two layers of laminated glass on either side of a specialized automotive rubber or vinyl layer.
This design makes windshields more resistant to impact damage and less likely to shatter into sharp, dangerous pieces if they do break.
In order for a rock chip to be repairable, the damage has to be confined to the outermost layer of the windshield. If the chip is too deep, the glass may need to be replaced entirely.
During an initial assessment, a rock-chip repair professional will also consider the shape and size of the damage. Defects that are star shaped or have long, spidery cracks attached to them are usually too complex for repair. Similarly, damage that is longer or wider than six inches may call for glass replacement.
Once a technician has confirmed that your rock chip is repairable, he or she will begin the remediation process. Usually, you’ll be invited to relax in a waiting room just like you would during a routine oil change. In most cases, the repair process takes less than 30 minutes.
The repair process consists of the following steps.
Cleaning and drying—The glass must be free of debris and completely dry before the other repair steps can be completed. For this reason, your technician may not be able to perform repairs during inclement weather. To prepare the windshield, the technician uses a harsh cleaning solvent on the area and then air-dries the glass.
Resin insertion—To restore the glass, a technician uses a specialized syringe to fill in the chip with automotive resin.
Curing—To ensure that the resin hardens quickly and correctly, the technician may apply vacuum pressure or heat to the glass.
Once the repair is complete, you can drive and care for your car normally. For example, you should be able to take your vehicle to a car wash the same day as a rock-chip repair without risking further damage.
Rock-chip repair is designed to keep your windshield safe. Filling in the chips keeps the glass more structurally sound in the case of a collision and limits the visibility issues caused by broken glass.
However, once your windshield glass has been broken, the only way to get a perfectly smooth surface is to replace the windshield entirely. After a rock-chip repair, a small divot will probably still be visible in the glass.
It’s important to note that not all rock chips that look repairable actually are compatible with this repair technique. You may want to ask your rock-chip repair provider about their contingency policies if the resin does not completely fill in the chip. Most automotive glass companies do not charge for these partial repairs and will help you begin the replacement process instead.
Rock-chip repair may be covered by your car-insurance policy. Check your comprehensive vehicle policy to see whether the coverage includes a glass endorsement or glass waiver section. Policies with these clauses usually cover repair or replacement up to a specific dollar amount.
You may need to contact your insurer to check that the repair work is covered by your policy. For example, some automotive insurance policies cover only repairs on damage that is three inches across or smaller.
You may need to pay upfront after a rock-chip repair service and submit a claim to be reimbursed by your insurance provider.
Untreated windshield damage may become too severe to be repaired, especially if you often drive on bumpy roads or live in a climate with extreme temperatures. As soon as you notice a new rock chip in your windshield, bring your vehicle to an automotive glass professional for assessment and repair.