Cracked Windshield – Should I Repair or Replace?

If you’re reading this article, there’s a better than average possibility that you’re driving with a cracked or chipped windshield and are trying to determine the prudent next steps. Auto glass damage can be a serious inconvenience and finding the time and the appropriate glass repair company can be challenging. Before you incurred the damage, you probably hadn’t given your windshield a great deal of thought. Now you’re wondering, can I have this repaired, or do I need to replace the glass entirely? 

In this article, we may address more than you ever wanted to know about your windshield. However, when you finish reading, you’ll be an informed consumer, ready to proceed from a position of knowledge and awareness.

A Short History of the Windshield

Image courtesy of Historic Vehicle Association

The history of glassmaking dates to at least 3600 B.C. in Mesopotamia, perhaps even earlier in Egypt. The first horseless carriages didn’t have windshields; most drivers used goggles. The earliest iterations of the windscreen, circa 1904 or ’05, were made from two frames of window glass, unfortunately, prone to shattering upon impact. Not an ideal situation as the windshield is the most accident-prone of all car glass. In the 1930s, resin laminates were developed which were safer, stronger, and protected passengers from UV rays. At about the same time, automakers started using tempered glass on rear windows and door windows. 

Modern technology started in the 1970’s with windshields made of laminated glass—a multilayer unit consisting of a plastic layer surrounded by two glass sheets. Today’s windshield laminates use a special layer of PVB (polyvinyl butyral) between two sheets of tempered glass. The tensile strength of the tempered, multi-layered laminated glass provides exceptional protection to impact. The PVB layer prevents shattering. Modern windshields also contain a UV filter to protect you and your car’s interior from harmful UV rays.

The Importance of Your Car’s Windshield

As you’re pondering whether to repair or replace, we want to ensure you’re familiar with the safety and structural importance of that mundane piece of glass you peer through while you drive. 

Beyond aerodynamics and aesthetics, your windshield is a critical component of your vehicle. Yes, it protects you from inclement weather, rocks, and flying debris. But did you know that the windshield provides 40% of your car roof’s structural integrity, preventing the top from collapsing in a rollover? If you are not wearing a seatbelt, your windshield protects you from being thrown from the car. 

Do you understand the crucial importance of a proper windshield in deploying your car’s front airbags? The windshield acts as a backstop for the airbag, allowing it to inflate towards you and your passengers. Without a properly installed windshield absorbing the airbag’s impact, they may not work efficiently, or they may malfunction.

Types of Windshield Damage

Not all windshield damage is the same. The number, severity, and timing of your glass issues will help to inform your decision to repair or replace. Small chips and dings can typically be repaired unless there are extenuating factors. Let’s start with a review of the types of windshield damage.

Chips in Your Windshield

At some time, we all endure those small rock chips and dings from pebbles, rocks, and other road debris. They are annoying but typically can be repaired quickly. Two instances you should address are:

Cracks in Your Windshield

Although cracks come in various shapes and sizes, they have in common the propensity to expand over time. The stress of everyday driving (think speedbumps and potholes), weather fluctuations, extreme heat, and exposure to the sun can contribute to the spread. 

There are “Edge Cracks,” a crack that extends to the edge of the windshield or within two inches of the border. “Floater Cracks,” similar in structure to the edge crack but more than two inches from the edge. “Bullseye Cracks,” with a definitive point of impact that resembles a bullseye on a dartboard, as the name implies.

Whether a crack can be repaired or requires replacement depends on its size and how quickly you address the problem.

When to Repair Your Windshield

Smaller dings and chips in your glass may be repaired with a process of injecting resin into the damaged area. This procedure will strengthen the glass in the repaired area, prevent spreading, and improve visibility. When is repair an acceptable alternative? Usually, a crack that can be covered by a dollar bill, under six inches in length, is reparable. No more than three chips under two inches in size and less than three-eighths an inch deep can be repaired. 

Repairs are more cost-effective and less time consuming, typically about fifteen minutes per repair, with immediate drive-away time.   

When to Replace Your Windshield

Although the modern windshield can withstand significant impacts, there are times when a replacement is a prudent option. Generally, more than three cracks or a crack larger than six inches requires a replacement. Once a windshield incurs excessive damage or repairs, they lose their ability to withstand additional impacts and their structural integrity. 

Any severe damage that impairs the driver’s visibility should be replaced as repairs will leave some distortion. Edge breaks typically require replacement as they may also impact the glass’s structural integrity.

Benefits of Having Your Windshield Replaced 

An experienced auto glass company, like SunTec Windshield Replacement & Repair can help guide you through the evaluation process. SunTec technicians are experts; they have seen every type of chip, ding, and crack. If a knowledgeable tech determine that your chipped or cracked auto glass can be repaired, they can accomplish this very quickly. Repairs can normally be completed within 30 minutes, usually around 15 minutes for each chip or crack, and you can then immediate drive away.

Should a technician like one at SunTec suggest that windshield replacement is required, you have the comfort of knowing that you will maintain your vehicle’s optimal structural integrity, guaranteed by a lifetime 100% satisfaction warranty.  

Windshield replacement specialists, like SunTec, use only OEM or OEM-equivalent glass and materials. These parts are guaranteed to be of the highest optic quality, meeting all safety requirements. The trained technicians ensure the fit and finish are ideal. 

In Summary

To the untrained eye, determining whether to repair or replace a windshield can be challenging. A floater crack that requires replacement may seem like a simple repair job. However, a repaired windshield that should have been replaced can be unsafe and structurally compromised.

If you still have doubts, to ensure the safety and functionality of your windshield, be sure to reach to an auto glass company, such as the team at SunTec. Each chip or crack is different and experienced technicians can identify the safest option for your vehicle windshield service.

Author: Brandon Park