Car Windshield Repair or Replacement: Do It The Right Way

You see your windshield every time you get behind the wheel, but do you pay much attention until a problem appears? Most of us do not. A rock chip while driving, hitting an animal or vandalism suddenly put the front glass in the forefront of our minds.

Besides being unsightly, a damaged windshield can impair your vision and even compromise your safety. So when the time comes for your car windshield repair or replacement, you will definitely want to do it the right way.

A damaged car windshield will often appear and behave differently than damaged glass elsewhere on the vehicle. This is because most vehicles have side and rear windows made of tempered glass that tends to shatter into tiny pieces, or at least crack entirely.

A car windshield does not do this because of its laminated construction. Think of it as a sandwich. Two layers of glass, with a polyvinyl butyral (PVB) layer in between. And it protects you from more than the elements. In a severe crash, an undamaged, properly installed windshield is critical to front passenger airbag deployment as well as structural rigidity in the event of a rollover. So while a small rock chip may appear as little more than a cosmetic annoyance, there’s a lot riding on car windshield repair or replacement done the right way.

As a general guideline, windshield damage smaller than the diameter of a quarter and shorter than the length of a dollar bill is usually repairable, provided it does not encroach into the driver’s straight-ahead line of sight. Using cycles of vacuum and pressure, a technician removes air from the break and injects a liquid resin that will cure under ultraviolet light. This can come courtesy of the sun or under a portable lamp in less than 30 minutes. Restoration of structural integrity is the primary benefit, though the appearance is usually improved also.

Windshield replacement is necessary when the damage is larger in size than safely repairable or is in the driver’s line of sight. For this, a technician must cut through the urethane adhesive around the existing windshield’s edges and remove the windshield from the car. The tech will then inspect, clean and prepare the pinchweld area around the car’s windshield opening, as well the replacement windshield itself. Fresh urethane adhesive is applied and the new windshield is carefully set in place. Naturally, windshield replacement takes more time than windshield repair. You'll often need to wait at least an hour for the urethane to cure and properly bond for safe driving.

Car windshield repair or replacement often involves an insurance claim. Provided you carry appropriate coverage, many insurance carriers will waive the deductible when a windshield can be repaired. For windshield replacement, a deductible will usually apply.

Do-it-yourself types, take note: car windshield repair or replacement is possible on your own, but so is dental work. Without proper training and the right tools, there are too many considerations to list here in order for you to do it the right away on your own. To ensure safety and avoid air and water leaks, defer to trained technicians with the proper equipment, brand-new glass and fresh supplies.


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