As a car owner, one of the things that you can expect over time is damage to your windshield. That’s because the windshield is one of the largest components of your car, and is constantly exposed to harsh weather conditions. It’s also regularly hit with flying debris, and gravel is often thrown up from the road by the tires of other cars.
The decision of whether to repair or replace your windshield will depend on the extent of the damage caused. Here are some indicators to help you determine the best course of action to take with a cracked windshield.
1. Size of the Crack
If the damage is caused by a pebble that hit your windshield resulting in a tiny chip or crack, then the most obvious solution is to repair the affected area. However, if the size of the damage is substantial, for example, a stress crack that’s several centimeters long brought about by fluctuating temperature, the most preferred action is usually to replace the windshield.
There are always exceptions, though. Some highly-skilled auto glass specialists can successfully patch long-stress cracks provided the damage is shallow and not through the glass.
2. Depth of the Damage
A windshield is made of laminated safety glass comprising of three layers (i.e. two layers made of tempered glass sandwiching a thin piece of vinyl). If the damage to the windshield affects only the external layer then repairs can easily be made. But if the damage harms the vinyl and permeates into the inner layer you’ll need a windshield replacement.
Please note that replacement is almost always mandatory when the inner glass is damaged regardless of the condition of the vinyl or outer layer of glass.
You can search for any cracks on the inner glass by running your fingers across the inside of the windshield. If you can feel the damage you’re going to need a windshield replacement.
3. Location of the Damage
If your windshield is damaged at the outer edges or the cracks extend to that region, even if the cracks appear to be minor, the repair is usually not advisable. That’s because the windscreen edges act as the base and if the cracks originate from this area they threaten the structural integrity of the entire windshield.
Please note that while it may be tempting to patch any long cracks in this area to save a few bucks doing so may be courting an automotive disaster. Sometimes all it takes is driving on rough terrain for the resulting vibrations coursing through the car to shatter the glass and cause an accident. In some cases, tiny pieces might also dislodge and cause you and your passenger bodily harm.
If you’re worried about a potentially high bill for replacing your windshield, don’t be. Many car insurance policies include windscreen cover. Contact your insurance provider for confirmation.