How Much Does it Cost to Replace a Windshield?

If you drive a car, there’s a good chance that you’ve already had the unfortunate experience of having a windshield replacement – by their very nature, they take a lot of abuse from the elements (being able to sustain temperatures from minus right through to 40+ degrees), all sorts of debris hitting them – imagine a hail stone hitting one at 70 mph – it’s like being shot with a gun.

Of course, some people will try and put off having a windshield replaced if it becomes damaged, they’d rather drive around with a rock chipped or cracked windshield than pay out a few hundred dollars for a replacement, but in all honesty, it’s a false economy.

The Implications

First of all, driving with a damaged windshield could easily get you a ticket, and that’s the kind of trouble that no one needs, but more importantly than that, your windshield plays a major safety part with your car, and not just from stopping the elements coming in to the cabin.

Cars are designed as a whole unit, this means that all of the crash testing and safety ratings are done with the correct windshield fitted – the windshield itself forms part of the structural integrity, in fact, reports say that a genuine OEM windshield accounts for as much as 60% of the structural integrity of a car in the event of a rollover – without it, your car will just flatten.

And although your windshield may still be in place, if it’s damaged in any way, the structural integrity is lost – a windshield is only strong while it’s completely intact.

Cost Factors

Understanding windshield replacement costs isn’t straightforward, there is a number of factors that can affect the price, but perhaps the biggest factor is rarity value. If your car is vintage, or rare, windshield stocks will have dwindled to almost nothing. So the seller can virtually name his price, just for the screen, and this could be in the thousands of dollars region, and then of course you need to pay for fitting.

automobile worker replacing windscreen

Aside from that, certain brands or models are only available through the dealer – think high-end sedans and luxury, so any windshield repairer or replacer will need to pay dealer prices (less a small discount) for the windshield – it’s not possible to buy a cheaper product from one of the other manufacturers.

You also need to consider how new your vehicle is – many of the newer vehicles have sensors built in to the glass – rain sensors, condensate, lights. Some cars can have as many as five sensors in the glass, and this of course all adds up to one thing – money.

And finally, anything with extra molding involved (complex curves for example) will generally be up to 20% more expensive as well.

Windshield Glass

Automobiles have had windshields fitted as early as 1905, thanks mainly to the invention of safety glass, which meant that the glass shattered into clumps, rather than splintered. These days, windshields are made from laminated glass, which is exactly what it sounds like – a layer of plastic is bonded between two layers of safety glass – a triple layer in all.

Not only does the windshield benefit from the added thickness, but the layer of plastic helps to keep the windshield as a whole piece, stops the glass from becoming dislodged, and potentially entering the vehicle (or worse still, a passenger).

There are around 80 companies worldwide that specialize in the making of windshields, which when you consider the amount of vehicles on the road (just in the USA alone, estimates put the number of vehicles at around 263.6 million), that really isn’t that many, less if you’re looking for factory specification (OEM – Original Equipment Manufacturer) windshields, rather than a cheaper alternative.

And talking of OEM, yes it’s possible to maybe halve the cost of a replacement windshield if you pick a budget model, but it won’t have the same level of quality as the OEM specification glass. That isn’t to say that it would be unsafe, just that the original specification glass will likely fit better, last longer, and will be capable of taking more sustained abuse.

What IS the Cost?

removing windshield on a car

Typically, prices for windshield replacement costs can be anywhere between $100 to $400 USD, but that includes the price of the windshield, labor to remove and refit, adhesive and cleaning. With many insurance companies, you won’t have to pay the deductible.

As we’ve already mentioned, there is many factors that change the price – even simple things will affect the price. Older cars generally have their windshield’s held in place with a rubber seal rather than adhesive, so you could save a few dollars that way, but on average, you’ll pay in the region of $236 for a replacement.

Even if your windshield has been damaged, you not necessarily need a full replacement. Many automotive glass companies offer a windshield repair service, and you may be surprised at just what can be repaired – some companies offer repairs on cracks up to 3 inches long, and rock chips up to the size of a quarter.

Don’t be tempted to leave a damaged windshield for another day, small cracks and chips will affect the integrity of the glass, and it’s highly possible that the cracks and chips could spread, especially in extremes of temperatures (where it’s cold at night and hot during the day).

Take professional advice as to whether your windshield damage is repairable or needs replacement, and get it done – your safety is the number one priority.

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