Difference Between: Windshield Repair and Replacement

Written by Thomas

Unsure whether to repair or replace your windshield? Let us assist you in assessing the condition of your damaged windshield and guide you through deciding on the best next steps.

Have you, like many other car owners, just experienced windshield damage? This was the last thing on your mind when you got behind the wheel today, and now it’s an unexpected problem to handle.

This occurs more frequently than one might expect, and many car owners find themselves in similar situations. It’s difficult to control external elements and what might hit your auto window while driving.

Even the sound of the stone flick can be hard to forget for some time. Any new sounds coming from the windshields make you extra alert. Did I get another one? Is the new crack expanding?

You might be wondering about the cost and the best approach to take. Before assessing the cost to address the damage, it’s important to know that there are two options: having the windshield repaired or replaced.

 

Auto Glass Technician removing film from brand new windshield before mounting

LOOKING FOR A NEW WINDSHIELD?

Layers of Your Auto Glass Windshield

For safety reasons, the front windshield of your vehicle is required by law to be made of laminated glass. Therefore, a windshield consists of three layers: two sheets of regular auto glass, combined with a middle layer of plastic, known as PolyVinyl Butyral (PVB).

This middle layer of lamination holds the broken outer panes of glass together. In the event of an accident, this layer protects the occupants from dangerous glass shards.

Usually, when a rock hits the windshield, the damage doesn’t penetrate all three layers. This makes minor repairs much more manageable.

Assess the Damage

 ….to figure out if you need a Windshield Repair or Replacement

Fortunately, few car owners find themselves facing a completely damaged windshield, which usually results from major impact damage.

This type of damage can occur when a tree branch or a roof tile falls onto the glass, or when the vehicle is subjected to vandalism, exposing the glass to high force.

It’s important to remember that auto glass, in general, is fragile and susceptible to damage under such conditions.

Stone chips are the most common problem encountered with windshields. If a small stone chip isn’t addressed promptly, it can develop into a larger crack, eventually spreading across the entire windshield.

Fortunately, most minor chips and cracks can be repaired without having to replace the whole front windshield. In assessing the damage, there are four critical factors to consider:

 

  • Damage type
  • Size of damage
  • Depth
  • Location on the windshield

First Aid for a New Stone Chip: If a flying object has just hit your windshield and created a new stone chip, the best course of action is to clean the damaged area and cover it with a piece of see-through tape. This significantly increases the chances of a successful chip repair.

Next, book a windshield repair with your local technician.

📞 Give us a call directly at (888) 470-2293

Types of Windshield Chips and Cracks

There are many different cracks, depending on what caused the damage and the speed at which it hit. Some are fixable, and others are not. Further down the post, we have illustrated the different types of chips and crack to identify them visually better.

Bullseye

This circular crack type has a clean center break and usually happens when a round object (e.g., stone) hits the windshield. It is easy to fix bullseye cracks if caught in time, and it typically doesn’t require a complete replacement of the windshield.

Half Moon

This crack is visible as a half bullseye often has a blunt edge and can be easily repaired.

Edge Crack

Cracks on the edge of the windshield are the most common. They start close to the edge and move slowly inwards. The windshield needs a replacement if the damage is alongside the frame or longer than a few inches.

Floater Crack

Floater cracks usually occur in the middle of the windshield, and this windshield crack type will obstruct the driver’s view. These crack lines spread quickly and typically require total windshield replacement.

Star Break

A star break starts with an impact hole with one or two small cracks leading outward. These cracks usually grow and spread rapidly. It is always easier to repair, while the star is small and debris-free.

Combo Break

The combo break is primarily the result of serious damage, such as an accident or a severe impact on the windshield. (e.g., falling rocks and branches). Due to the absolute number of chips and cracks, replacing the windscreen is the more affordable option.

Size – when is it repairable?

Most auto glass technicians will be able to repair stone chips that are less than 1 inch in diameter (or smaller than a coin) and windshield cracks that are no longer than 3 inches in total.

Depth of the damage:

If the chip or crack has managed to get through all three layers of glass, it is likely to be unfixable. Even if it is just a tiny hole, it will be an area of weakness that undermines the strength of the entire windshield.

Location on the windshield:

Anty chips and cracks in the driver’s line of sight require, for the most part, a complete windshield replacement. No matter how good the repair quality eventually is, there may still be some mistiness, discoloration, or unevenness, which can distract the driver’s view in certain conditions. 

Any damage near the edge of the windshield (where it meets the metal frame) is also essential to be intact. Even a minor crack in this area will weaken the overall integrity of the windshield and compromise safety. Just because a part of the crack or chip may be out of sight beneath the frame and impossible to repair safely. Anything closer than 7cm to the edge requires a windshield replacement.

Infographics about different types of windshield damage

How do Auto Glass Technicians Repair Windshield Glass?

Windshield repair is a meticulous process undertaken by skilled auto glass technicians.

5 steps to Windshield Repair, taking about 15-30 minutes

1) Inspection and Cleaning
2) Creating a Vacuum
3) Injecting Resin
4) Curing the Resin
5) Polishing

First, the technician thoroughly cleans the problem area of the windshield to remove any dust, moisture, or residue, as these can compromise the integrity of the glass. This cleaning is usually done with compressed air to ensure a pristine surface for repair.

The technician then carefully inspects the damage, considering factors like the size, type, and location of the crack or chip. Next, a special tool creates a vacuum over the damaged area. This step is essential for removing air and moisture and preparing the site for the resin injection.

The selected resin, designed to last your windshield’s lifetime but sometimes serves as a temporary solution before a replacement is required, is injected into the chip or crack.

The technician then uses ultraviolet light to cure or harden the resin, restoring the windshield’s structural integrity and preventing the damage from spreading.

The technician polishes the repaired area as the final step, blending it seamlessly with the rest of the windshield. In most cases, the repair is so precise that you sometimes won’t even be able to see the difference.

It’s important to note that certain windshield features can influence the feasibility of repairs.

Suppose your windshield has features like a heated windscreen, rain sensor, or ADAS systems (such as a windshield camera), and the damage is located in areas affecting these systems. In that case, the windshield may need to be replaced entirely.

Why Should You Repair Auto Glass Glass?

There are numerous critical reasons why you should repair windshield chips and cracks as soon as possible.

One day you might just have a tiny chip, and the next, there’s a long crack along with your windshield. Cracks expand much quicker than you think. Besides your safety, it can also mean the difference between an affordable chip repair and an expensive windshield replacement.

In addition, when dust and moisture settle in the edges of a crack, this will cause further damage to the glass over time.

Not to mention the most crucial aspect: a chipped or cracked windshield is a safety issue. Even tiny imperfections in the windshield compromise the integrity of the glass.

Important Points Between Windshield Repair vs. Replacement:

  • A windshield replacement is more expensive and takes more time than windshield repair.
  • In most cases, a minor chip and crack take under an hour to repair. A windshield replacement, can in some cases, take a few hours (if an ADAS calibration is needed).
  • Note, the key is to get rid of the crack as soon as possible. The longer you leave it without proper treatment, the higher the chances of the damage spreading and requiring a complete windshield replacement.
  • Windshields are responsible for around 30% of the vehicle’s structural integrity. An incorrectly fitted windshield, or one with too many poor repair jobs, can have dangerous results in the event of an accident.
  • Windshields play a vital role in airbag technology. A weak, damaged, or incorrectly fitted windshield can detach when an airbag deploys. The airbag will then inflate over the dashboard instead of protecting the occupant.
  • In case that you’ve repaired chips on your windshield more than eight times, you’ll need a total windshield replacement.

Do You Have a Crack on Your Windshield?

Experience our hassle-free Windshield Replacement process. At US Auto Glass, we ensure a smooth and client-focused approach to windshield replacement.

We handle every detail, from selecting the appropriate windshield for your vehicle to verifying stock availability at nearby supplier warehouses.

Our coordination with skilled local technicians guarantees an efficient and effective replacement of your cracked windshield. Throughout the process, we keep you updated with all the essential information, ensuring a transparent and worry-free experience.

When To Consider a Windshield Replacement?

 

There are several reasons to consider having your windshield replaced:

  • Your windshield is cracked.
  • There are seven or more stone chips present.
  • Signs of wear and tear are evident.
  • A stone chip is located close to the edge of the windshield.
  • A crack which is too extensive to be repaired.

BOOK YOUR WINDSHIELD REPLACEMENT

Published on January 11, 2024
Thomas

Thomas

Thomas is a seasoned autoglass expert whose passion shines through his 16 years of dedicated experience. As an accomplished auto glass technician, he possesses a wealth of knowledge and hands-on expertise, earning him a respected voice in the industry.

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