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How Are Windscreens Repaired and Why?

The windows in your car are actually more important to the functionality and structure of the vehicle than you might realise. When you are driving or a passenger in a car, you’re surrounded by windows on all four sides – the windscreen, side windows, and the rear window. Car windows at the side, rear and front of the car are for more than simply enjoying the view when on the road. While one of the most important functions of the windows is visibility for the driver, the glass does more than this, including sharing the weight of the bonnet so that the overall structure of the car remains intact and contributing to the car’s aerodynamics. If the car windows are damaged, then they should be repaired as soon as possible.

What is a Windscreen Made From?

To understand why it’s so important to have your windscreen repaired if it is damaged, it’s important to know how car windows are constructed. While it might seem like the glass used for the windows in your car is all the same, it actually isn’t. The windows at the rear and side are made with tempered glass, which is treated in such a way that if it breaks, it will shatter into blunt pieces instead of sharp shards. On the other hand, the windscreen is constructed using laminated glass. This is also durable but responds to pressure and impact differently compared to the windows at the side and rear of the car.

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How Much Does Windscreen Chip Repair Cost?

Minor damage to the windscreen is usually in two different forms: cracks or chips. Chips are generally damage to the windscreen that clearly mark where the glass has been damaged. This can be in circular, a half-moon shape, a crack chip, pit, or a star break, which involves short cracks forming outward from the centre of the damage. On the other hand, cracks create a straight or slightly wavy line in the glass that ranges from less than an inch up to the entire width of your windscreen. Generally, they will run horizontally in a line. The good news is that cracks and chips in your windscreen do not always mean that the whole thing needs to be replaced, and even long cracks can sometimes be repaired. The cost of a windscreen chip repair will depend on several different factors including the size, quantity, and position of the damage. In some cases, chip repair might be covered by your car insurance, so it’s worth checking first.

How Much Does It Cost to Repair a Windscreen?

Unlike replacing the entire windscreen, the cost of repairing damage to your windscreen isn’t influenced by the make or model of your car. Most windscreen repairs will cost you no more than $140-$150, and only take around thirty minutes to replace. On the other hand, if you need to have your windscreen completely replaced, this is likely to cost more, with prices ranging from $200 to $2000. The cost can also vary depending on the size and availability of the windscreen glass for the make and model of your car, and if your car uses assistive technologies such as advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), as this will need to be recalibrated once the new windscreen has been installed.

When Should I Replace My Windscreen?

The windscreen is not only responsible for providing visibility to make driving easier, but also helps to keep you and your passengers safe. Minor cracks and chips in the windscreen can be a bigger problem than you might realise. If there is damage to your windscreen, you may be wondering if you should have it repaired or replace it completely. Some of the main factors to consider include:

  • Line of Vision: If the windscreen damage is in your line of vision when driving, this can be more complicated to fix compared to cracks or chips elsewhere in the windscreen. While a good repair technician will be able to match the glass light reflecting capabilities as much as possible, there is a chance that you are not going to get one hundred percent vision especially if you live in a sunny area where the light plays a large role in how well you see.
  • Location: Due to the tools that are used by windscreen repair technicians, cracks and chips that are located close to the edges of the windscreen might not be repairable and could require you to get a full windscreen replacement.
  • Size: In the majority of cases, a crack or chip that is larger than a quarter in size could be harming the structural integrity of your car. While it might be possible to carry out repairs for cracks or chips that are this size or larger, it is not always advised, as it could reduce the safety of the windscreen in an accident or if the airbags are deployed.

How Is Windscreen Crack Repair Carried Out?

When you take your car to a windscreen repair technician for chip or crack repair, the first thing that they will do is examine the chip or crack to ensure that it can successfully be repaired. Modern windscreens are made with two layers of glass and a thin layer of vinyl or plastic laminated in between them. If the chip has gone through the laminate or caused the laminate to become separated from the glass, this will not be repairable, and you may need to have the windscreen repaired. Once the repair technician has determined that it is possible and safe to repair the chip or crack, they will begin by cleaning the area and checking for any loose dirt or glass. They will then inject resin into the chip using a special device that creates a vacuum. This helps to ensure that the resin fills all parts of the chip, without trapping any air bubbles that could make the repair ineffective or less effective. Then, the resin is cured using a UV light or other hardening treatment. Finally, the area is cleaned and polished.

Can I Do DIY Car Windscreen Repair?

You can find kits that are designed to allow you to repair chips or cracks in the windscreen yourself. These are often appealing to drivers since they offer more convenience, and it can be cheaper to do the repair at home in your own time. However, it is important to bear in mind that these kits are not always effective on some kinds of damage. They often lack the ability to create a vacuum over the crack or chip and can be difficult to use since you may need to pull and push on the applicator plunger to ensure that there are no air pockets. If you don’t get it right, the repair might be very noticeable and not very effective, and you could end up paying more for a windscreen repair specialist to rectify it.

What to Do if You Get a Windscreen Crack While Driving

There are various different reasons why your windscreen might crack or chip. Poor installation or low-quality glass, bad weather, debris on the road, and extreme temperatures can all cause damage to your windscreen. While it can be inconvenient to get to your car while it’s parked and notice that there is damage to the windscreen, it can be quite dangerous and even frightening to have your windscreen crack or become chipped while you are driving. So, what do you do in this situation?

  • Slow Down: If your windscreen has cracked due to bad weather, you might already be driving quite slowly. However, any other cause of damage to the windscreen can happen at any time, including when you are driving at speed on the highway. When you notice damage, the first thing to do is slow down immediately and pull over whenever it is safe. Put your hazard lights on and be aware of any other cars around you.
  • Assess the Damage: A crack or chip in the windscreen can obstruct your view of the road ahead of you and weaken the structure of the glass. A deep crack or chip could mean that the laminated plastic or vinyl between the glass panes has been damaged, which can severely compromise the structure of the windscreen. If you notice a deep crack, it’s best to call your recovery service to come and take you to the nearest place you can have the crack repaired, rather than driving your car.
  • Get a Repair or Replacement: If the chip or crack is not deep, then you can safely drive your car with extra care to get a repair carried out. Ideally, get this done as quickly as possible since damage to the windscreen will get worse over time if left unchecked. A deeper chip or crack might require you to have the windscreen replaced. Some windscreen technicians offer a mobile service; getting them to come to you where you are parked safely on the side of the road to offer advice and a repair if possible is the best idea.

Cracks and chips in the windscreen might seem insignificant at first glance, but they could be putting you and your passengers in a lot more danger than you realise.

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