Should You Repair or Replace Your Windshield?
When your windshield is in good condition, you likely don’t think about it often. After all, the purpose of the glass is to give you an unobstructed view of the road and drivers around you while protecting you from the elements.
However, as soon as your windshield sustains a chip or crack, you may find yourself thinking about it constantly as you drive. You may wonder if the glass is still safe and structurally sound, whether the damage will interfere with your driving habits, and if the issue can be repaired.
Modern windshield repair can return many damaged windshields to smooth, clear surfaces. However, not all windshields can be repaired. In this blog, we discuss some of the characteristics that determine whether your windshield needs to be repaired or replaced.
When Can Your Windshield Be Repaired?
Windshield repairs involve filling the gap in the glass with specialized resin that hardens and adheres to the glass, preventing the damage from spreading in the future. While this process is highly effective, it is generally only available for minor damage.
In many cases, you can tell if windshield damage is repairable by considering the location, size and circumstances. Your windshield can almost certainly be repaired if the crack or chip is:
- Clear of the windshield edges
- Out of the driver’s line of sight
- Relatively new
- Smaller than a dollar bill
- The only damage of its kind to the glass
Most of these requirements are due to the changes the windshield glass undergoes after a repair.
For example, the primary reason most repair shops will not correct chips or cracks at the driver’s eye level is because the repair leaves a minor distortion in the glass. Anywhere else on the windshield, this distortion is essentially invisible, but when this warping occurs directly in your eye line, the waviness could be distracting or even dangerous.
Similarly, repairs that are too close to the edge of the windshield can affect the lamination process used to layer the glass. If the lamination becomes undermined, the glass may begin to peel or separate, allowing moisture intrusion and increasing the chance of a large break in the glass.
Repairs are also most compatible with newer windshields. As windshields are used and begin to age, they can develop many small divots from the force of sand and other debris that hits the glass while the car is driving. This pitting may make typical repair methods ineffective since the resin can’t adhere to a smooth surface.
When Must Your Windshield Be Replaced?
While windshield replacement is certainly a larger endeavor than windshield repairs, replacement is sometimes necessary to protect both your vehicle and its passengers. Additionally, replacement at the appropriate time can cost you less than perpetual repairs on a damage-prone windshield.
Your windshield may require replacement whenever it sustains moderate or major damage. Replacement is most likely your best option when the crack or chip:
- Affects multiple layers of glass or punctures the glass completely
- Begins to spread across the glass
- Blocks the driver’s view
- Is located within a few inches of the windshield’s edge
- Measures longer than 12 inches
Some of these characteristics may be difficult to identify on your own. For example, you may not be able to tell if a chip has gone through two layers of glass instead of one. You can do a preliminary test for this by running your finger over the damaged area. If you feel a distinct dip, the chip may be too deep.
However, you will want to check with a professional before assuming that this touch test means you have to replace your entire windshield since the shape of some chips makes them more obvious to the touch.
Additionally, you should learn the vehicle safety standard laws in your area. Some states allow drivers to operate vehicles with fairly extensive cracks, while other states have specific restrictions on the damage that could obstruct vision.
In Utah, you must immediately repair a crack that’s 1 inch or longer and that appears within 6 inches of the top, bottom or sides of your windshield and you may have to replace the glass entirely. Failure to comply with laws of this type could lead to a citation and fine or a failed vehicle inspection that voids your registration.
Use this information to assess your windshield. Prompt repair or replacement ensures that your vehicle passes inspections, complies with regional vehicle safety laws, offers an adequate view for the driver and maintains its resale value.
Still not sure whether repair or replacement is right for your vehicle? Consult with an automotive glass expert in person. He or she can evaluate the extent and type of damage to the glass and provide you with personalized recommendations that ensure your safety on the road.
For professional and efficient automotive glass services, including windshield repair, trust the experts at the Central Glass Company.