A minor chip in your car’s windshield may not seem like a major problem. In fact, you could be tempted to try to repair it yourself or ignore it altogether. But a faulty repair – or no repair at all – is simply not an option.
Driving with a damaged windshield can obscure your vision and impact the vehicle’s structural integrity. In fact, according to the Insurance Information Institute, it is illegal to drive with a broken windshield in certain states.
A chipped or cracked windshield should be repaired or replaced as soon as possible, and done so by a qualified auto glass technician.
What causes windshield chips and cracks?
There are a host of ways your windshield can become damaged. Some, like debris hitting the glass, produce immediate chips or cracks. But there are other events and conditions that can damage your windshield without you even realizing – until its too late. These include extreme temperatures, dirt, worn-down windshield wiper blades and improper cleaning. Even the act of driving itself can wear down a windshield. (Think potholes, speed bumps, etc.)
When should a damaged windshield be fixed?
Even though the damage may seem small, windshield chips of any size should be repaired as soon as possible.
Left unfixed, a small chip can grow into a crack that spans the length of the glass. A large crack can jeopardize the structural integrity of the vehicle and may require a complete replacement of the windshield as opposed to a simple repair that is quicker and less expensive.
It’s also important to remember that a successful windshield repair is dependent on several factors including how recent the damage is. The damage to the glass can expand fast, allowing foreign material to enter the crack or chip and further complicating any repair. In order to achieve the best results, the glass needs to be fixed as quickly as possible.
Can a damaged windshield be repaired or does it need to be replaced?
Each repair job is unique but depending on the location, size and type of the damage, it may be repairable without having to replace your windshield.
Should I call a professional or handle it myself?
Windshield repairs should always be handled by professionals, regardless of your own automotive expertise. Technicians undergo extensive training on repairing and replacing auto glass. This gives them an expertise that most do-it-yourselfers simply don’t possess.
Fixing a car’s glass is a unique car maintenance task. Unlike changing your car’s oil or replacing an air filter, it depends entirely on materials and skill. Professional companies have access to high-grade materials oftentimes not available to the public.
Another consideration is whether or not your vehicle has an advanced driver assistance system. This safety feature can include components such as cameras and head-up displays that must be able to integrate with the car’s windshield. If you have advanced driver assistance, a windshield repair or replacement is more complicated and the need for a trained professional increases.
What are the dangers of trying to fix a damaged windshield yourself?
As confident as you may be to try a do-it-yourself fix, the best plan is to sit this one out and let the pros handle it. There are several potential pitfalls to going at it alone.
Depending on your insurance, windshield repairs or replacements may be covered. Therefore, spending any amount of money on a DIY kit could amount to needless spending.
Damaged windshields are dangerous because they can distract the driver and obscure the driver’s visibility. Unfortunately, one of the most common problems with DIY fixes is that the material used to repair the windshield dries incorrectly. This can lead to a thick line being formed along the crack, obscuring the driver’s vision.
Getting your windshield replaced by a professional service generally comes with a warranty. Safelite, for instance, offers a nationwide lifetime warranty on windshield replacements. Under this warranty, auto glass is warranted against defects in material or workmanship for as long as you own your vehicle and if the defect is brought to the attention of Safelite within 30 days of discovery.
Safelite also offers a nationwide guarantee on windshield repairs for as long as you own or lease the vehicle on which the repair was made. This guarantees that the repaired portion of the windshield will not crack further and that the repair will pass any state vehicle inspection. If you are dissatisfied with the repair, Safelite will credit the cost of repair toward replacement.
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