Windshield Repair Versus Replacement: Understanding Your Options

Windshield Scratch — Chicago, IL — Aaron Auto GlassIf you’re like most drivers, you don’t give much thought to your vehicle’s windshield unless you can’t see out of it or it’s damaged with a chip or crack. You need to take care of windshield damage promptly to keep your vehicle roadworthy.

Not every windshield problem requires a full replacement, but opting for a repair when you really should replace the glass entirely can cause problems later on.

How Does the Damage Affect Visibility and Structural Integrity?

A vehicle’s windshield serves to protect the people inside from debris on the road, but it also serves a structural purpose. In an accident, the windshield plays a role in the airbag deployment and helps support the roof so it doesn’t cave in if the car rolls over.

If your windshield is damaged in the center of your field of vision, you’ll need to have the damage repaired quickly. In many states, you cannot legally drive with cracks in the driver’s line of vision.

Cracks around the edges of your windshield may not impair your
visibility as much as cracks in the middle of the glass would, but they can spell serious trouble for the structural integrity of your car.

Have an auto glass professional look at any damage near the edges of the windshield to determine if repair is an option or if a full replacement is the safest option.

How Large Is the Damage?

If the damage to your windshield isn’t significantly affecting your visibility or the vehicle’s structural integrity, the next thing to look at when you’re deciding whether to repair or replace your windshield is the size of the chip or crack.

Small star or bull’s-eye chips and cracks that often form when the glass is struck by a rock or another small, hard object can often be repaired. Longer, thin cracks are also often repairable, particularly if they are contained to one line and don’t splinter or branch off into other cracks.

The Repair of Laminated Automotive Glass Standard states that bull’s-eye or half-moon cracks in laminated windshields must have a diameter of no larger than one inch to be repairable.

The standard also specifies that cracks in the glass should not be repaired if they are longer than 14 inches, but many auto glass professionals won’t repair cracks longer than six inches due to state laws and regulations.

When Do You Need a Windshield Replacement?

Large, splintered cracks that cover a large portion of the windshield nearly always result in a full replacement. Deep pits in the glass also can’t be repaired safely.

If your windshield has damage near the edges of the glass where it seals with the vehicle body, you’ll likely need a new windshield to keep your car structurally sound.

Inspect your windshield regularly for tiny pits in the glass that build up over time from debris hitting the glass while driving. These pits can make it difficult to see when light from headlights or the sun hits them, so a windshield with a lot of small pits needs to be replaced.

Windshield replacement is sometimes covered under comprehensive auto insurance policies, though most policies that cover replacement have a deductible that the policy owner must pay.

If your vehicle has an advanced driver assistance system, it may need to be re-calibrated after you get your windshield replaced, so make sure to ask your auto glass technician if they can perform the calibration or if you’ll need to take your car to a dealer to have it done.

Aaron Auto Glass offers both windshield repairs and replacements to drivers throughout Chicagoland, southwest Wisconsin, and northwest Indiana. If your windshield is chipped, cracked, or damaged in any other way, contact us today to schedule service at one of our convenient locations or via our mobile glass repair fleet.

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