Noticing a chip or crack on your car’s windshield is a frustrating experience. The presence of any defect means that it at least needs repair, and possibly a complete replacement.
It can be even scarier if the damage happens while you’re in the car. Anyway, when everything is calm and you are taking the car to the garage, a question will probably start to arise in your mind: should I change the windshield or can I fix it? How long does it take to replace a windshield? How much will it cost?
Let’s take a look!
What is a Car Windshield Replacement?
Car windshield replacement is a repair procedure in which an existing damaged or broken windshield is removed and replaced with a new one. A windshield replacement is usually performed when repairs to damaged windshields are impossible without simultaneously restoring the full structural integrity of the windshield.
Windshield replacements are invariably performed by professional auto mechanics. In modern cars, windshield replacement will also result in the need to recalibrate the car. ADAS systems🇧🇷 This is because replacing the windshield will disturb the previously calibrated cameras and sensors needed to make the ADAS features work.
Ways a car windshield can be damaged
The most common way a car windshield is damaged is due to an accident that cracked, chipped, or completely shattered the windshield. In addition to complete collisions, however, there are a number of other common causes, including (but not limited to):
Bad installation: When people attempt to install windshields without the proper tools and know-how, a poor job can result in a structurally damaged windshield that is more susceptible to damage and breakage. It can also be performed by mechanics with little or no experience handling windshields.
Low quality glass: If a driver or auto repair shop chooses to use inferior quality glass for their windshield replacement, the result is a naturally weaker glass panel that is more likely to be damaged or broken by other things on this list, or even in a small bump. 🇧🇷
Rock Fragments: Many roads, highways, trails, and even long driveways can have loose debris that is thrown at cars behind. If rock chips or other hard debris hit the windshield, they will bounce back, but some can cause damage. When traveling at particularly high speeds and hitting the windshield at certain angles, the thrown debris can do a lot of damage.
Extreme weather: Some parts of the country experience extreme weather conditions, in particular hailstorms where large hailstones cause irreparable damage to car windshields. It is at these times that a garage or car port comes in handy.
Extreme temperatures: Temperature fluctuations between different day/night extremes can cause the glass to expand and contract. This continual change is bad for the glass and causes it to weaken.
Reasons You’ll Need Replacement, Not Just Repair
The main reason you’ll need a replacement rather than a repair is if the damage is beyond the capabilities of any qualified mechanic to safely repair. Filling cracks is one thing, but the main objective is to restore the full structural integrity of the windshield. If this cannot be achieved, replacement is the only option.
Whichever type of chip the windshield has — half moon, combination, bull’s-eye, and star are the most identified — it can be fixed, limited to less than an inch or two in length. If the chip is larger than this, a replacement will be required. For cracks, if it fits under a dollar bill, it’s usually repairable, but it depends on other factors.
Another such factor is the number of cracks. If you have less than 3 cracks, all less than an inch each, repairs are possible. More than that is reasonable grounds for replacement.
Finally, the location of the damage is also relevant. Repair professionals will consider any damage to the driver’s side windshield to be more serious than other locations. This is not always due to the integrity of the glass, but also how residual marks left by damage can affect the driver’s visibility.
What are the alternatives to windshield replacement?
The most common alternative to replacing a windshield is to use a special clear resin on the glass that hardens to replace glass that has been chipped. The damaged area can be prepared in a shaded area, with a mounted tube used to implant the resin in the affected area. Once applied, the resin is dipped into the affected area and left to set. The drying process only takes a few minutes.
How to Replace a Car Windshield: Step by Step Process
Step 1: The trim around the windshield that helps hold it in place is first removed, usually using a razor.
Step 2: The windshield is now free. Mechanics will lift the old windshield using large suction cups attached to the handles.
Step 3: Now there is a gap between where the windshield is installed and the car body, this is called a grip weld. This area must be cleaned to ensure that any old urethane, dust, and other debris is removed from the gap.
Step 4: The grip weld edges now have a new layer of urethane applied which acts as the primary adhesive holding the windshield in place before the finish is restored.
Step 5: The new windshield is now fitted into the opening and placed into position and held there for several minutes.
Step 6: The windshield is allowed to heal and adjust, and the finish is restored to hold the new windshield properly in place.
How long does it take to replace a windshield?
It usually takes 30 minutes to 1 hour to complete a car windshield replacement🇧🇷 Warmer, sunnier weather can help speed up the healing process, allowing the driver to get the car back a little faster. Almost all drivers can drive their car again within an hour of starting the process.
Can you drive immediately after windshield replacement?
Once the curing process is complete and the windshield is properly fixed by the mechanic, you can drive your car immediately after the repairs are done.
What is the typical cost of a windshield replacement?
The National Windshield Repair Association estimates that the average cost for windshield replacement is around $350🇧🇷 If you do repairs rather than replacement, the same organization estimates costs of around $99. It should be noted that these are averages and costs will vary depending on the make, model and year of your car and your geographic location.
Conclusion: never neglect the windshield
That front glass panel is the main barrier that protects you from the myriad of debris, dust and dirt that is thrown onto the typical road, not to mention mother nature’s worst elements. It is essential that you take good care of your car’s windshield and address any damage as soon as possible. Leaving the damage untreated can cause the windshield to get weaker and weaker until… disaster. Take steps to fix windshield damage now.