When Is It Time to Replace a Windshield?
Drivers everywhere are familiar with the sharp cracking sound of a rock flying into their windshield. At one time, the only option was a complete windshield replacement no matter how minor the damage. Thanks to modern auto glass repair techniques, countless drivers have salvaged their windshields. However, windshield repair methods can only do so much. Depending upon the location and severity of the damage, it may be necessary to replace a windshield.
Windshield Repair Basics
Windshields are comprised of plastic laminated between two layers of glass. When a rock or other object strikes a windshield, it can crack or chip the outer layer of glass. The windshield is repairable if caught before a crack spreads too far. A technician injects a special resin into the damaged area, allows it to cure and then polishes away any excess. The resin fills and seals the damaged area preventing the spreading of cracks while restoring strength to the damaged windshield.
Limitations of Windshield Repair
Even if a chip goes as deep as the plastic layer, in most cases it is still repairable. However, if both layers of glass are damaged, repair is likely out of the question. A windshield is beyond repair if damage has altered its structural integrity or blocks the driver's view. This includes deep chips and long cracks.
When to Replace a Windshield
There are three main considerations when deciding if replacing a windshield is necessary: the extent of the damage, where the damage occurred and how large of an area is damaged. Damage to the edges of a windshield reduce the overall structural strength. In most cases, it is advisable to replace rather than repair. If the damage obstructs the driver's view, it is recommended for safety reasons and possibly required by law to get a new windshield. Cracks that have spread a long distance are often irreparable. Again, this is another time that replacement is probably the only option.
Is It Really Necessary to Replace a Windshield?
Many people assume the sole function of the windshield is to keep wind and rocks from flying into the driver's face. While this is one of the primary roles of a windshield, it is not the only one. Windshields are part of the support structure of a vehicle and reinforce the vehicle's roof providing protection in the event of a rollover. In addition, a windshield also prevents the ejection of the driver or passengers during an accident. In short, a cracked or damaged windshield is a potential hazard. This is why many jurisdictions have passed laws requiring drivers to repair or replace damaged windshields. Replacing a windshield is routine and doesn't take long. In most cases, the average wait is about half an hour. Some vehicles may require additional time, but it still shouldn't take any longer than a few hours. Most insurance policies also cover the cost of windshield replacement. With as easy and quick as it is to replace, there is no reason to be driving around with a damaged and unsafe windshield.