If you drive a car regularly for an extended time, you will experience an emotional roller coaster’s worth of mishaps and untimely situations. There is a sinking feeling, and probably a gasped “oh no!” when you realise that loud noise has cracked your new windshield. Depending on the damage, or the immediate danger of the crack, your windshield might need a repair or a replacement. How does one make that assessment? There are several questions to consider when making this critical decision.
The windshield in your car is made from a lamination process. A thin layer of vinyl is placed between two large sheets of glass; the three pieces are laminated in a special oven called an autoclave. Immense heat and pressure are applied to the glass and vinyl, creating a sturdy protective shield between you and the road outside. When you are engaged in a severe impact, the glass will shatter, but inner vinyl layer prevents the glass from flying apart by acting as an adhesive.
Types of Damage
You can better assess a repair or a replacement when you know what type of damage is inflicted upon your windshield, and how it affects the layers of the windshield.
Chips break away a portion of the glass, and typically these surface-level fissures can be repaired if they are small enough. However, a chip may be deep enough to penetrate the vinyl layer, which might call for a replacement.
A crack can usually grow from a chip, even if that chip is surface level. It is best to repair any chips in your windshield immediately. A crack, unlike a typically small chip, is a line in the windshield where a piece of the glass has begun to separate. Cracks usually start small but absolutely can grow into a more significant issue.
A crack in the windshield can be caused by anything from a deep chip, too much weight applied to the windshield or dramatic changes in temperature which cause the glass to contract and expand. These conditions can also cause a previous crack to speed up its process until a small crack has grown to a massive crack across your entire windshield.
It is not uncommon to see an array of chips or cracks in your windshield due to the daily wear and tear we put on our cars. Never make any assumptions or judgments on your own; refer to an auto glass professional to hear their input before making a decision.
Should I Repair My Windshield?
Compared to replacing an entire windshield, you can guess that a couple of repairs are significantly cheaper. However, is it the safer option of the two? It genuinely depends on the size, depth, location, quantity and type of impairment. The ability to repair large chips and cracks is consistently advancing and changing with the improvement of the industry: it is becoming easier and quicker to make more concrete repairs to windshield flaws.
The National Windshield Repair Association has specified the maximum parameters of damage repair is limited to a three-inch chip and a crack up to fourteen inches long. If your damage exceeds these limitations, it might be too deep to perform a windshield repair. This is especially true if the chip or crack is on the driver’s side of the windshield, as this could significantly impair the safety of the driver.
Should I Replace My Windshield?
Sometimes, it isn’t always apparent that a windshield needs to be replaced. A windshield can be repaired only so many times before the glass sandwich is in dire need of replacement. There is a general rule to follow: if you have more than three cracks anywhere on your windshield, it is highly likely that it is time for that windshield to be replaced. In the car, safety is an essential factor. Three or more cracks in the windshield pose an immense safety hazard, as this inflicts damage on the structural integrity of the windshield (a necessary part of the car’s safety).
A windshield replacement should primarily be considered if there is significant damage to the driver’s side of the windshield. A repair, whether it is good or not, could leave residual markings which have the potential to impair the driver’s vision. According to Daniel Snow from Glass.com, you should consider replacing your windshield if:
- The glass is tempered, not laminated.
- The crack is longer than a dollar bill.
- The crack/chip has penetrated more than halfway into the windshield.
- The crack/chip extends to the outside edge of the windshield.
Otherwise, a repair might be sufficient for your needs.