Windshield Repair Vs. Replacement: How to Choose the Best Option

car parked outdoors on rainy day with hail

When you’re driving, your car’s windshield is your primary safety net. It keeps the wind, rain, dust, bugs, and other elements out. A crack on the windshield isn’t something that you can ignore like a scratch on the bonnet. Unlike a scratch or dent on the car’s body which is harmless and only looks unsightly, a crack or chip on the windshield can turn into a serious issue. When you ignore it, the crack quickly spreads and may cover a large part of the glass. This weakens the glass, posing a risk of windshield shattering. So, if you accidentally get the glass damaged, you should have it repaired as quickly as possible. However, most car owners are frequently unable to decide whether they need to repair or replace the windshield.

Chips and cracks are the most common types of windshield damage. A rock chip is commonly defined as damage to the windshield caused by debris impact. Cracks and chips can occur in different shapes and sizes- a crack chip (smaller than 1 inch), a bulls-eye (circular), a partial bulls-eye (half-moon), a star break, or a pit (gouge). When any type of damage occurs, it is usually preferable to show your windshield damage to an auto glass professional because they know best whether you require windshield repair or replacement. However, there are a few things that can help you get an idea of different types of windshield damage to understand when repair or replacement is necessary.

The Size of the Damage

The first factor that determines whether you need windshield repair or replacement is the size- how large the damage is. While it’s possible to repair even large cracks, often replacement is a better option. Typically, cracks smaller than 12 inches or chips less than 1 inch can be repaired. If the windshield has sustained a bullseye larger than 3 inches or a crack larger extends up to 14 inches, it becomes mandatory to replace the glass.

Crack or Chip Depth

A minor amount of damage increases the likelihood that your windshield can be easily fixed. The next factor is determining the severity of the damage- how deeply the damage penetrates the windshield. A glass used for windshield consists of an outside layer of glass, a plastic interlayer, and an inner layer of glass. If the damage extends through both the outer and inner layers of glass, a windshield repair is not possible.

Damage Location

The placement of damage is also an important factor. If the damage is impacting the visibility of the driver, the windshield must be replaced. Even if a chip is little, it may reflect light that can impede the driver’s vision. So, the need to repair or replace the windshield is strongly influenced by the location of the damage. If the damage extends to the outer edge of the glass, the structural integrity of the windshield is more likely to be affected. Besides these factors, the features of the car should also be considered. If the sensor or ADAS system has sustained damage, you will need to get the windshield replaced.

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