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, vehicle windshields take much abuse from the elements.
They can sustain temperatures from minus to 40+ degrees and all sorts of debris hitting them. Imagine a hailstone hitting one at 70 mph. It’s like being shot with a gun.
Of course, some people can try and put you off replacing a damaged windshield. They would rather drive around with a damaged windshield than pay out a few hundreds of dollars to replace it. But, it’s a false economy.
Implications of Driving with a Damaged Windshield
First of all, driving around with a damaged windshield could quickly get you a ticket. And that’s the kind of trouble that no one needs. But, more important than that, your windshield plays a significant safety part in your car. It’s not just something that stops the elements from coming into your cabin.
Cars are designed as a whole unit. All of the crash testing and safety ratings are done with the correct windshield fitted. The windshield itself forms part of the safety and structural integrity. Reports say that a genuine OEM windshield accounts for as much as 60% of a car’s structural integrity in the event of a rollover. Without it, your car can collapse and flatten.
And even if your windshield is still in place, if it’s damaged in any way, the structural integrity is lost. A windshield is only as strong while it’s completely intact.
Factors that Determine the Cost to Replace a Windshield
Understanding windshield replacement cost isn’t straightforward. Several factors can affect windshield replacement cost includes the following:
1. Make and Model of Your Vehicle
The type of vehicle you drive is one of the most significant determinants of how much windshield repair can cost you. Of importance is the fact that the different types of vehicles use different shapes and sizes of windshields. For example, if your vehicle is an SUV, it would require a giant glass for the windshield. Besides, the repair cost for an SUV is much more, given that technicians need specialized equipment.
In the same way, some high-end vehicle models like Audi, BMW, and Mercedes require special windshield glass, necessitating higher prices from the glass manufacturer. Some high-end windshields are equipped with and connected to features that provide a more comfortable driving experience.
Also important in windshield replacement cost is the car make, model, and year of manufacturer. The windshield replacement for cars that have been manufactured not more than five years ago may cost more. That’s also true for vintage or ancient cars whose windshields are hard to come by.
2. Type of Glass Used
Did you know that the type of glass used can significantly influence your windshield replacement costs? The market has two major types of glass – OEM and aftermarket. OEM refers to Original Equipment Manufacturer, a type of glass made with all the specifications and features of the original glass fitted by the car manufacturer. OEM glass has better security features, is clearer and durable. It also costs more than an aftermarket windshield.
Aftermarket windshields, even though produced by the same manufacturer, comes from a different production line. This type of car glass is a copy of the original windshields and can drastically reduce the cost to replace a windshield.
A typical aftermarket windshield may follow the same standards but are of much lower quality. Even though the average cost of aftermarket windshields is low, using them may result in problems due to failure to meet the specifications of your car.
3. Type of Service Center
The price of windshield replacement may generally vary depending on the service center where you seek glass repair services. Some service centers may repair a windshield at a meager price. But that may mean the questionable quality of work.
You falsely think you’re saving money on a good deal when you are getting ripped off with poor-quality products and services. Service centers with products and services of the highest quality may charge extra costs to replace your windshield. Since the replacement services are top-notch, the price is worth the while.
Furthermore, luxury cars have multiple features – such as sensors – requiring more elaborate, time-consuming replacement procedures. In that case, you need top-notch windshield replacement services that may cost you more. That’s because such service centers utilize highly trained repair and replacement technicians to install the glass.
4. Special Attachments
The replacement cost to replace a windshield may increase drastically if your car windshield comes with special attachments. Some of the most common special features include light sensors, rain sensors, automatic windshield wipers, windshield visors, and superior tinting for digital display. Only technicians with specialized skills can handle the damaged windshield expertly and carefully.
Of necessity, the technician needs to know how to re-wire the affected special features. Since you have to pay for the required expertise, that can increase the entire project’s price. Sometimes, the glass required for the project is not ordinary but of superior quality, increasing the windshield replacement costs even further.
5. Insurance Coverage
Many insurance companies cover 100% of the amount it costs to repair a windshield without extra deductions. However, to qualify for this kind of insurance, you should have comprehensive coverage of your vehicle.
Without insurance, you may have to pay a deductible and get a final price for the service that is lower than obtaining a quote and paying out of pocket. Insurance companies help you save repair costs by pre-negotiating discounted rates based on volume.
However, if the repair cost is lower than the deductible you had paid, the insurance company might not intervene. Comprehensive insurance can pay for the cost to replace a windshield due to storms, vandalism, fires, and animals. The insurance company may consider windshield repair if damage to the auto glass is six inches or less.
The advantage of having comprehensive coverage on your vehicle is that the insurance company hooks you up with a trusted, reputable windshield service provider with well-trained technicians, high-quality glass, and high-quality adhesive.
6. Rear Windshield Replacement
Sometimes, there could be damage to both the front and rear windshield. Replacing a rear windshield together with the front windshield can likely raise the price further. Bear in mind that factors such as the make and model of the vehicle, type of glass, and special features may raise the price even further.
Should I Consider Windshield Repair or Replacement?
There comes a time when you have to decide between auto glass repair and replacement. However, that isn’t something you can wake up and decide without considering the different factors that go into it.
When to Repair Your Windshield
- If glass repair won’t tamper with your car’s safety features
- In the case of a chip that’s smaller than one inch or a crack that’s 12 inches or less
- Windshield damage is only to the outer layer
- The chip or crack is further away from the auto glass outer margin
- Damage is on the passenger side of the vehicle
Advantages of Repairing Car Glass
- It prevents cracks from spreading
- It takes less than 30 minutes to fix most minor cracks
- Restores your windshield durability and visibility
- It is part of your comprehensive coverage
When to Replace Replace Your Windshield
You can replace your windshield if the damage hampers visibility and your ability to drive your car safely. Also, if the chip is more than 3 inches or the crack is at least 14 inches long, you should consider windshield replacement. That’s also true of the inner glass layer is broken, and the windshield damage is close to its edge. Finally, rather than being on the passenger side, the damage is on the driver’s side, replace your windshield.
Advantages of Replacing Car Glass
- Restores your car’s structural integrity
- It helps maintain high safety levels
- Maximizes the visibility available to the driver
- Comprehensive insurance covers windshield replacement
Factors that Determine Windshield Repair and Replacement
The choice between windshield repair and replacement isn’t easy, especially given what you must pay attention to. Here is a sample of the most critical factors that determine if you should repair or replace your windshield:
Safety is the most critical issue in the automotive world. Even though driving around with a broken windshield for a short distance isn’t dangerous, the sooner you repair or replace it, the better.
When weakened by windshield damage, the glass compromises your vehicle’s structural integrity. If your car gets involved in an accident, a broken glass won’t provide you and your passengers the safety you need.
Driving a car with a damaged windshield reduces your ability to see clearly, which is a significant safety concern. In some states, such as Pennsylvania, driving around with a broken windshield is illegal. If the scratch, chip, or crack is in the driver’s line of vision, glass repair is discouraged. Generally, that’s the area covered by windshield wipers.
Despite advancing windshield repair tools and techniques, there are limitations to the size and type of damage that can be fixed. Usually, it is possible to repair glass if it has a chip of diameter of at most 1 inch or a crack of not more than 12 inches.
Windshields feature two layers of glass, and whether you can repair them depends on how deep the damage penetrates through the inner or plastic layer. If the windshield is damaged to the inner layer, the glass cannot be repaired and has to be replaced. Also, glass with damage to the inner layer still needs replacement, even with an intact external layer.
If the windshield is cracked close to the frame, the service technicians may recommend replacing it. That’s because the most minor fissures near the edge of the corner can spread quickly, worsening the damage due to car vibrations and the stress of traveling through dips and over bumps. Cracks near the frame can diminish your safety by undermining your vehicle’s structural integrity.
The location of the damage may also mean tampering with the technological systems embedded into the windshield. Windshield replacement is necessary to keep key systems like rain sensors, automatic braking, and advanced driver assistance systems working correctly.
Types of Windshield Damage
Your windshield could undergo different types of damage, which ultimately determine the average cost of fixing the problem. Usually, the type of windshield damage determines the replacement costs. They include the following:
Chips often result from a small piece of debris, such as a rock hits the windshield. They usually occur on the outer layer of the car’s front windshield. Chips appear in the form of small pieces of glass flaking off. Based on the extent of the damage, chips can be of the following types:
- Chip (Pit): A chip occurs in the form of a tiny piece of glass missing from the windshield. The pit refers to the specific area where a tiny piece of glass is missing.
- Bulls-Eye: A bulls-eye is usually more significant than a chip and comes in the form of a dark-colored, circular-shaped area of damage, complete with a hole.
- Half Moon: Even though it looks like a bulls-eye, a half-moon chip is not entirely circular.
- Combination Break: This type of damage involves multiple issues, including a chip with cracks spreading outward from it.
Depending on the extent of the damage, you may consider repair or replacement of your auto glass. When you notice any chips on your windshield, you should have technicians at a repair shop examine it quickly. Since chips usually consist of minor damage, they may only require minor repair at a small price. If you don’t repair the chip, it may spread out to the rest of the windshield, causing extensive damage. However, it is necessary to replace a windshield if the damage is extensive.
Cracks may occur in virtually any glass on your vehicle, including the front and rear windshields. Unlike chips, cracks may not result from any particular impact on the auto glass. While cracks mostly form in the outer layer, they may sometimes appear in the inner layer. The following are the most common types of auto glass cracks:
- Edge Cracks: Edge cracks occur two inches or less from the edge of your windshield. Some even reach the edge.
- Floater Cracks: This type of crack usually shows up in the windshield center, away from the edges.
- Stress Cracks: The primary cause of a stress crack is a sudden or massive change in temperature, such as what happens when you melt ice on the windshield using hot water.
- Long Cracks: A crack that’s six inches in length or more.
- Star Break: This refers to cracks that radiate from one chip, thus appearing like a star.
Cracks on your auto glass may lead to the repair or replacement of the windshield. For a slightly cracked windshield, the repair is the most logical recommendation. Otherwise, windshield replacement is the only advisable thing to do.
Types of Windshield Glass
Automobiles have had windshields fitted since 1905, thanks mainly to the invention of safety glass. This meant that the glass shattered into clumps rather than splintering. These days, windshields are made from laminated glass with a later of plastic bonded between two layers of safety glass – a triple layer in all.
The windshield benefits from the added thickness, but the layer of plastic helps to keep the windshield as a whole piece. It also stops the glass from becoming dislodged and potentially entering the vehicle (or worse still, a passenger). The auto glass comes in different types, including the following:
1. Dealer Glass
This auto glass originates from the vehicle manufacturer and is sold under the windshield repair shop brand. Thus, dealer glass is available from car dealers appointed by the manufacturer as authorized service shops for your car make and model. This is OEM-quality glass with all the extra features included by the manufacturer when assembling the vehicle.
2. Aftermarket Glass
This type of auto glass comes with the same principles governing aftermarket vehicle accessories and electronics. Even though your vehicle’s original manufacturer doesn’t manufacture the glass, it is built to an excellent standard. The glass is considered to be either generic or off-brand, without a known origin. It is often cheaper than any of the two other types of auto glass.
3. Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) Glass
Original equipment manufacturer (OEM) quality glass is often the best when it comes to providing the best value. It differs from aftermarket auto glass in the sense that a vehicle manufacturing company makes it. Therefore, it is a genuine certified product and can last longer.
How Much Does It Cost to Replace a Windshield?
Typically, windshield replacement costs can be anywhere between $100 and $400, but that includes the price of the auto glass, labor to remove and refit, adhesive, and clean. With many insurance companies, you won’t have to pay for the deductible.
As we’ve already mentioned, many factors are affecting the price. Even simple things can affect the price. Older cars generally have their windshields held in place with a rubber seal rather than an adhesive. So, you could save a few dollars that way, but on average, you’ll pay $235 for a replacement.
Even if your auto glass has been damaged, you do not necessarily need to replace the windshield. 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 affect the structural integrity of the glass. It is also highly possible that the cracks and chips could spread, especially in extreme temperatures.
Take professional advice as to whether your windshield damage is repairable or needs replacement. If the latter, then have your windshield replaced. Then, get it done – your safety depends on it.
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