When your windshield is cracked, chipped, or otherwise damaged, you have to make a decision – to replace or to repair? When you’re determining the extent of damage done to your auto glass, there are a few factors that will determine whether to repair or replace your windshield. Visibility and your ability to drive the car safely are the most important criteria to consider. Once those have been evaluated, you’ll also need to take the size, depth, and location of the damage into consideration before determining the best solution for your windshield.
Repair Windshield or Replace Windshield?
It’s difficult to decide what the best fix may be for a damaged windshield without a more thorough examination. But we’ve created a quick guide to help you determine the best course of action.
Signs You Should Repair Windshield
- Damage can be repaired without sacrificing the integrity and safety of the car in the case of collision
- Crack is less than 12 inches long or the chip or bullseye is less than an inch in diameter
- The outer layer of glass is damaged but the lower layers remain whole
- The crack or chip is in the center of your windshield – or not close to the outer margins
Signs You Should Replace Windshield
- Your visibility is impaired by the level of damage
- The crack is 14 inches or longer/the bullseye or chip is larger than 3 inches in diameter
- The inner layer of glass is broken
- The damage has reached – or is near – the edge or corner of the windshield
If you are still unsure about the extent of the damage to your windshield, you can walk through the following examinations to help you make a determination. Remember, you should always have a professional verify your decision.
Factors to Consider When Repairing or Replacing a Windshield
Now we’ll take a deeper look at the circumstances auto glass professionals consider when they are deciding whether your windshield should be repaired or replaced.
Driving a car with a damaged windshield that impairs your visibility is a serious safety risk. In many states, it’s actually illegal to drive with a severely damaged windshield. If the crack or chip is obstructing your line of vision, we usually don’t recommend repair – replacement is a much safer option. Generally, the surface area covered by your windshield wipers is considered “within the driver’s line of sight.”
The reason we don’t recommend repair for these kinds of cracks is actually two-fold. In severe cracks and chips, repair may not be able to completely penetrate the damage – this leaves your windshield weakened. If you happened to be in wreck or collision after an eye-level crack was repaired, you risk the glass breaking at that weakened point, which can mean shards of glass flying right into your face.
As in all things, safety should be your first priority. Though it’s not always dangerous to drive with a damaged windshield for short distances, you should have it repaired or replaced as soon as possible.
Your windshield has been engineered to be a key component of the structural integrity of your car. But when the glass is weakened by damage, it can cause a shift in the balance of your car’s crumple point. So if you were to be in an accident or collision, the car may not be able to protect you the way it was designed to. In a worst-case scenario, you may have large chunks of glass flying at you and your passengers – turning a survivable fender bender into a tragedy.
New techniques and tools are always being created for windshield repair, but there are still limitations to how much and what type of damage can be repaired. The National Windshield Repair Association (NWRA) published a guide called Repair of Laminated Automotive Glass Standard, or ROLAGS. This guide says that cracks up to 12-14 inches may be safely repaired. Chips or bullseyes or up to 1 inch in diameter may also be considered safe to fix.
Beyond these guidelines, it is recommended that you have your windshield fully replaced.
If the crack in your windshield is close to the corners or edges or your windshield, our technicians will almost always recommend windshield replacement over repair. This is because glass is weakest near its edges, especially in a large piece like that of a windshield. Even small fissures and chips can worsen and spread due to vibrations from your engine and bumps in the road. These vibrations put stress on the weakened area of the glass and can worsen the damage.
Cracks near the edge of the windshield frame are also considered a safety issue because they undermine the structural integrity of the glass, making it more likely to split and splinter in a collision.
Depending on the age and make/model of your car, windshield damage may also affect technological systems in your car. Sensors, advanced driver assistance systems, automatic braking, and self-parking can all have components embedded in your windshield. If this is the case, replacement is likely the best option to keep your vehicle running smoothly.
Windshields are made up of two layers of glass – the inner and the outer. The outer layer is actually made of plastic and the inner layer is made of glass. If the damage penetrated the plastic layer and damages the true glass, your windshield cannot be repaired – you will have to replace it. This is also true of any damage to the inner layer, whether or not the outer layer is affected.
Repair Windshield: The Pros
If you can catch it early, repairing a crack can prevent it from spreading. Our auto team can fix minor chips and cracks very quickly – often in less than 30 minutes – and the costs are generally lower than replacement. Many times, insurance companies prefer repair to replacement because of the lower cost.
Remember: A correctly repaired windshield should restore visibility and durability completely. If you can still see the damage, talk to your auto glass technician.
Replace Windshield: The Pros
In general, replacement takes longer than repairing a windshield – usually about 3 hours if the windshield is in stock. If the windshield for your car’s make and model is not in stock, it will have to be ordered which can mean a wait of up to a few days. It is also likely to be more expensive than repair.
However, windshield replacement restores the integrity of the vehicle completely in a way that repair cannot guarantee. Installing a new windshield also ensures the highest level of visibility with no warping from multiple chips or bullseyes being filled.
Still wondering, “Replace windshield or repair windshield?” Contact the professionals at Fast Glass Service. We can get you a quote quickly and help you get back on the road ASAP!
I have multiple cracks in my windshield and would like to get it replaced. Thank you for pointing out that impaired visibility is a safety risk. I think I should contact a repair shop that can help me get a new windshield so I can drive safely.