A comprehensive guide to auto glass repair, including repair vs. replacement criteria, pricing estimates, and tips for getting your windshield repair or replacement done right.
Understanding Auto Glass
Auto glass is typically made of high-quality, tempered glass designed to shatter so that it crumbles into small pieces and is less likely to create shards and sharp debris than typical glass. Glass shards can cause severe injury or property damage. Although all the glass in your vehicle is important, the windshield is an important part of your vehicle’s safety features and structural integrity.
Windshields are made of laminated glass. Laminated glass is two layers of glass held together by a polyvinyl butyl (PVB) interlayer. This interlayer helps keeps shards in place in the event the glass breaks.
Even a tiny chip or ding can become a severe crack, leading to several issues, including complete breakage, if not adequately addressed. The windshield of a car takes quite a beating, and any problems can crop up that cause damage to it. While you can do your best to prevent that, you can’t control everything.
Sometimes things happen even if you do everything you can to protect your vehicle and its glass, like a stray rock from a truck driving past or a tree branch falling on your car. If something happens to your windshield that requires repair, here’s what you need to know.
Windshield Repair vs. Replacement
The first thing that needs to happen if your windshield is damaged is for an expert to assess the damage and determine whether it can be repaired. There are some instances where the answer is obvious, such as when a windshield is shattered from an accident or when there’s only a tiny chip smaller than a quarter. However, some situations may not be as obvious, so you call in the experts.
The more extensive or severe the damage, the more likely the windshield must be replaced. The good news is that some insurance plans will cover the replacement cost minus your deductible.
Auto glass repairs include:
- Fixing/filling chips
- Filling/sealing small cracks
Auto glass replacement will be needed for the following:
- Large cracks or spider cracks
- Completely shattered glass
- Cracks that compromise the seal or structure of the windshield
Once you have a professional assess the situation, they can advise you on the best course of action. They can also estimate the costs and help you determine whether it’s worth it to file an insurance claim (more on that in a minute).
Why Immediate Auto Glass Repair is Necessary
If the auto glass gets damaged, a small chip or crack can quickly become a bigger problem if left unattended. Temperature fluctuations can impact the damage to the windshield, and what would have been a simple repair suddenly becomes a $500 replacement. Getting chips, cracks, or any other damage repaired immediately is best.
It would help if you also repaired the glass of your vehicle right away to avoid issues with the following:
Visibility: Depending on where the crack or chip is located and its severity, it can affect your visibility. Damage in the driver’s line of sight should permanently be replaced immediately to prevent any issues.
Safety: The glass of your vehicle is designed to protect you. It cannot do that effectively if it is cracked, chipped, or otherwise compromised. That means that accidents and other issues could be more dangerous because of the damaged glass.
Value: If you’re planning to sell your car, you should repair the auto glass. Otherwise, you’ll have to take a reduction in the price you ask for the vehicle.
As of the writing of this article, the U.S. Department of Transportation has a law prohibiting people from driving vehicles with:
- Cracks or chips bigger than ¾ inch in diameter
- Intersecting cracks
- Cracks in the line of sight
- Two or more cracks less than three inches apart
States may also have laws superseding federal regulations, but these are a minimum standard.
Should I File an Insurance Claim for Auto Glass?
It’s only sometimes warranted to file an insurance claim for auto glass repair, even if you have the coverage. For example, a small chip or crack might only cost $50 to repair, but your insurance deductible is $250. In that case, it’s better to pay out-of-pocket. But, of course, if you have a vehicle with a $1,500 windshield and your deductible is $500, the claim would likely be worth it.
The best thing you can do is find out how much it will cost, check your courage and deductibles, and then decide whether to call your insurer or take care of the cost yourself.
The exception here is if you’re involved in an accident where someone else is at fault. In that situation, you would likely want to file the claim and let their insurance company pay for the repair or replacement because there will be no financial responsibility on your part. Even if it seems like a cheap repair, you shouldn’t pay for it if you don’t have to.
How to Choose Your Auto Glass Repair Service
You will want to find a reputable, experienced glass repair service if you need auto glass repair. Those filing an insurance claim might be advised to use a specific partner of their insurance company, but generally, you will have your choice of service and repair shops. Look for experts in auto glass repair that have experience and deliver perks like:
- Mobile auto glass repair
- Quality glass products
- Licensed, trained staff
- Working with insurance companies on your behalf
If your windshield or other auto glass is damaged and needs attention, check Glass.com for an auto glass repair service near you.