Windshield repair is a much talked about subject these days, especially with all the news stories about companies miss-selling windshield replacement jobs when a simple repair would have been much quicker and cheaper. Let’s discuss broken windscreen repair in more detail.
Should you replace or repair?
This question can be hard to answer, especially if you have no experience in the matter. For instance, some insurance companies will only provide coverage for certain types of jobs, plus there’s all the State regulations to deal with, too! So, how do you figure out whether you should get your damaged windshield repaired or replaced? The very first thing that you have to find out is whether the damage is repairable. The most important factors to be taken into consideration are the size, type, and location of the damage. Here are just a few guidelines:
Is the crack, chip small – it can probably be repaired.
Cracks and other damage around the edges of the glass are harder to treat and may require replacement.
Damage directly in the driver’s line of sight may not qualify for repair, especially if the crack has already filled up with dust or is relatively large in size. That’s because most repair jobs leave some distortion on the glass, which can affect the driver’s vision.
Some States have special inspection laws that prohibit certain types of damage from being repaired.
If a significant amount of time has passed since damage occurred, repairing the windshield might not be an option due to dust/dirt accumulation as well as the damage spreading to surrounding areas.
In general, all repair/replacement jobs are assessed on a case by case basis – call us for help one of our techs would be glad to help.
Types of windshield damage
Next let’s talk about various types of car windshield damage and how it is usually repaired.
Glass scratches: a scratch in the glass is a bit similar to a crack, except it does not go all the way through the glass it can be buffed but usually leaves distortion and the labor that goes into it can sometimes cost almost the same as getting a new windshield or more.
Windshield Chips: windshield chips/cracks come in many types, forms and shapes. This is what you need to know about windshield chip/crack repairs:
Windshield chips are the most common type of windshield damage. They occur when small objects (tiny rocks and other debris) hit the windshield leaving a tiny, “chipped” area on the surface.
Chips towards the center of the glass are generally easier to repair.
Chips/cracks that reach the edges of the glass are usually impossible to patch up.
Cracks spread fast – often starting as a small chip – which makes it very important that you get them fixed ASAP.
There’s a special type of glass cracks called stress cracks. These types of cracks are very dangerous and normally appear due to various external factors such as extreme temperature fluctuations, very strong wind, shockwaves, etc. Most stress related windshield cracks are not repairable.
Now, while most people see this type of damage as minor, it is actually a major cause for concern and should be repaired as quickly as possible. Here’s why:
Even the tiniest chips can develop into cracks! This happens due to temperature changes in the environment, extremely strong wind, use of various windshield-care products, etc.
If left untreated, windshield chips often become non-repairable. That’s because they fill up with dirt very fast, changing the coloration of the area for good.
As you can see, windshield glass repair is a pretty complicated process with a myriad of possible options. If you find yourself unsure about the best way to handle a damaged windshield, the best thing to do is to seek help from a professional auto glass repair specialist.
Replace or repair?
The first question that the majority of car owners face when dealing with a cracked or chipped windshield is whether they should have it replaced or repaired. There are pros and cons to both techniques, and sometimes replacement is the only option left. For example:
If your windshield has suffered a serious chip or crack (more than a couple inches wide), it should probably be replaced.
Replacement is mandatory in cases where the damage is on the driver’s side of the windshield. That’s because most repair jobs leave the glass looking a little distorted, which can be very distracting when driving.
Most skilled repair/replacement technicians won’t agree to repair cracks that run along the sides of the glass. That’s because this type of damage tends to spread quickly and is extra difficult to contain.
The first thing you need to find out is whether your windshield is repairable and, since every single case is different, it’s best to check with a skilled and well trained technician to be sure. DIY remove and repair might be an option.
Not all replacement companies are made equal
Now, your instinct might be to look for a company that will get your windshield replaced as quickly and as cheaply as possible. When it comes to windshields, that’s simply not the right way to go and here’s why: a windshield is a very important component of a vehicle and a poor replacement job can put your life, as well as the lives of your passengers, in serious danger.
A properly installed windshield protects you and your passengers from being thrown out of the vehicle during an accident.
It prevents the roof of your vehicle from collapsing during an accident.
If your windshield pops out or breaks down completely during an accident, any airbags that deploy will be practically useless.
And this list goes on. Always do your homework well and only work with trustworthy, well trained replacement specialists. Learn about right and wrong ways to replace a windshield, and what to look for when choosing a replacement: Windshield replacement checklist.
How much is it going to cost me?
The exact price of a replacement job is very difficult to tell without knowing all the details. With that said, there are a few major factors that you should focus on.
The size of the windshield that needs to be replaced will be one of the main factors that determine the price. The bigger your windshield is, the more it is going to cost you to get a new one.
Complexity and fittings – this means things like mirror attachments, special coatings, heat/rain sensors and so on. All of these add significantly to the cost of windshield replacement.
Whether you get an OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) or an aftermarket windshield.
OEM: an OEM windshield is going to be identical to the windshield that your car came with when it was brand new. Due to the fact that car manufacturers switch between different auto glass makers all the time, your new windshield might have to be manufactured by a different auto glass company (but it will be made to the exact same specification as the original).
Aftermarket: an aftermarket windshield is a windshield that has been produced by a third-party auto glass manufacturer not related to the auto maker who built your car. These third-party manufacturers do not follow the same specifications and guidelines as OEM auto glass makers, which makes buying/using their products a bit of a gamble, so to speak.
So, which option should you pick? That depends on your quality requirements as well as any existing state laws. Plus, many auto insurance providers only allow OEM replacements, so keep that in mind when making a decision.
As you can see, car windshield replacement is a pretty complex subject, which is not something that most people expect when dealing with a damaged windshield!
How Long The Replacement Will Take?
When done by a reputable company, most windshield replacements can be done between 45, 60 or 120 minutes.
Does car insurance cover windshield replacement?
You do want to take a look at your auto insurance policy. With the right coverage and under the right circumstances, it may cost you nothing to get a repair or replacement done. Then again, without the right coverage and in the worst of circumstances it may be an expense you are 100% responsible for.
Understanding Your Glass Coverage
When auto glass is damaged by something other than a collision, any repairs or necessary replacement will likely be covered by your comprehensive insurance, if you have it. Because comprehensive coverage is optional, not everyone has it, which means you may have to pay out of pocket for any windshield damage in that case.
What does comprehensive insurance typically cover?
Do I have windshield insurance?
This will probably be one of the first questions that come to your mind when faced with an expensive repair/replacement job. Unfortunately, at least in some cases, the answer is not as straightforward as one would hope.
Simply put, the amount of money that you will have to pay out of your own pocket will be determined by what type of auto insurance you have, which State you live in and what kind of deductible you may be required to pay before insurance kicks in.
Check with your insurance company to make sure windshield repair and replacement are covered under your insurance policy, especially if you do a fair amount of driving and expect to need it more than some might. Ask your insurance company to get specific about the coverage you currently have. For example, is it all inclusive or does it only cover side and back windows?
Types of coverage
Windshield replacement and repair claims are practically always considered to be comprehensive claims. This means that you must have comprehensive auto insurance to qualify. To find out whether your insurer will pay for any auto glass repairs, you should give your insurance agent a call. In addition to this, don’t forget to double-check all of the details in your insurance policy (sometimes agents get some of the facts wrong).
Next, you must file an insurance claim as soon as possible. Do not wait until the repair job is complete as that will more likely than not render your claim invalid or while inshop have the nice liberty staff help with the process to get the ball rolling.
Now, even if you have comprehensive auto insurance, you may still be required to pay a hefty deductible for any auto glass repair work. For example:
Most comprehensive insurance packages come with a deductible. This is done in order to reduce insurance costs. Unfortunately, in a case of an accident, it also means that the customer has to pay the deductible bore insurance payments can start. In most cases your deductible will depend on the type of damage suffered and how the accident occurred.
Some comprehensive insurance packages have special auto glass replacement deductibles that are smaller than general deductibles.
If your insurance company does raise rates for this reason, you may want to consider the option of paying out-of-pocket for the damage, saving yourself future premium increases for filing a claim.
An airborne rock cracks your windshield.
To repair it would cost $290.
Your deductible is $250 for this claim.
The insurance company is only going to contribute $25 to the repair.
Is filing a claim and receiving $25 is worth it. This is up to you but keep in mind that this claim will go on your record and may affect future premium rates – you may be perceived as a greater risk when you have claims.
The last thing to consider (although just as important as the rest) is your local State laws. Some US States have very strict regulations when it comes to driving around in a vehicle with a chipped windshield, while others have absolutely no such laws whatsoever. Plus, there are States where windshield repair jobs are required to be deductible-free, which can mean big savings! Here are some examples:
Florida, Arizona, Kentucky, South Carolina and Massachusetts are known as “zero deductible” States. As long as you have comprehensive auto insurance, you won’t have to pay a penny to get your car’s windshield replaced/repaired.
Some States, such as Connecticut, require insurance providers to offer optional packages that include deductible-free auto glass repair and replacement.
Remember that windshield repair claims must be filed before the work takes place and there are many ways to reduce the amount that you will have to pay out, as long as you have comprehensive auto insurance. Plus, zero-deductible insurance is often a real possibility.
Filing Insurance Claim and Getting the Repairs
If you’ve decided to move ahead with the claim, do it as soon as possible via phone or in person. And always contact your insurance company before getting any work done to prevent fraud from the repair shop and possibly save yourself money.
An agent with your insurance company will confirm the damage is covered and give you options for moving forward. They may require you bring the vehicle in to have it inspected. You will then be approved or denied for reimbursement for the repairs.
Many insurance companies require either:
using a specified auto repair shop by the insurance company or;
selecting your own auto repair center (some limitations may be applicable). (most cases you can tell them you would rather use a shop that you know dose good work).
After any work has been done, make sure to keep all receipts so you have something to provide your insurance company for reimbursement. And always review your bill carefully.
Some car insurance companies may allow you to upload or fax your receipts or invoices if you include your name, policy number, phone number, and date of damage. Be sure to find out beforehand which details your insurance company needs and which method of delivery they prefer.
Chipped, cracked, and broken windshields are among the most common car repairs. Pebbles, vandalism, falling branches, animals, and even sand and gravel can damage your windshield. And, as you can see, these are common everyday threats.
Allow yourself to sleep better at night by getting the coverage you need for the moments you don’t expect. It’s always best to have insurance that covers a windshield replacement. And not need it than to need it and not have it.
Whatever you do, just be aware of all of your options. As the saying goes, “Knowledge is power.”
Keep the windshield clean at all times
This goes without saying, but a dusty, dirty windshield can impact your visibility quite a bit, which in turn makes driving unsafe. Here are some tips for looking after your car’s windshield:
Do not wash/clean auto glass when it’s hot. Heat can put a lot of stress on a car’s windshield, making it prone to stress cracks and similar damage. This is even more serious when water is applied to the glass as it introduces strong temperature fluctuations that can lead to cracks.
Don’t forget to clean your windshield wipers on a regular basis! Dirty and squeaky wipers can easily lead to small scratches which later develop into serious cracks. There are many specialized products for this and the entire process takes just a minute. If you do not clean your wipers regularly, you may have to replace them more often.
Make sure that your windshield washer fluid levels are normal at all times. You never know when you might need to use it. Keeping windshield washer fluid reservoir full also is the best thing you can do to keep your windshield washer pump from breaking.
Protecting a cracked windshield
Let’s say that you notice a fresh scratch or a crack on your car’s windshield, but due to some unfortunate circumstances, you just can’t take your vehicle to a technician right away. In a situation like that, you must take preventative measures to make sure that the damage doesn’t spread. Here’s how:
If your windshield is cracked or has a deep scratch, do not wash it to avoid forcing water and dirt into the damaged area.
Place see-through tape on the crack to prevent dust from getting in. Only do this if the tape won’t obstruct your view.
Avoid extreme temperature fluctuations as much as possible. This means not using hot/cold water on the windshield, keeping it out of direct sunlight, etc. Only use the air conditioner on low/medium settings.
Extreme air pressure created by strong winds can cause windshield cracks to spread quickly.
Road bumps and other direct damage (such as slamming the car doors) can also cause existing windshield cracks to spread.
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