Windshield Injuries: Time To Repair Or Replace?

Posted on: 30 April 2015

Windshield damage is an unpleasant reality of owning and operating a vehicle. It's inevitable – if you drive on any road for any amount of time, that critical piece of glass is going to get chipped sooner or later. After a fender-bender or after a rock jumps up and slaps your windshield, your first question is likely, "Can it be repaired, or do I have to pay for a replacement?" Your collision repair or windshield specialist has the final word on this count, but these basic crack characteristics may help you assess the damage.

What kind of crack is it?

There are a few different common crack shapes and types, and each has a little different repair requirements. Small stars, bulls-eyes or chips are usually easy and inexpensive to fix. Unfortunately, many drivers tend to ignore these because they appear to be minor, and because most won't obscure your field of vision. Left untended, these spread over time to become a much bigger problem. Larger linear cracks, on the other hand, may not be possible or legal to repair.

Superficial cracks can usually be repaired, with possible exceptions if the crack is inside the windshield or the damage reaches to an edge. Some cracks reach through the layers of the windshield and may threaten the overall integrity of the glass, and these usually require full replacement.

Where is the crack?

A crack that's off on the passenger's side somewhere may be annoying, but – unless it's prohibited by law – you may be able to get away with driving until it's convenient to fix it. In most cases, however, it's against the law to drive with a crack that obstructs the driver's line of sight. Some states or municipalities may have different interpretations of the law, so always consult your local law enforcement or transportation authority if you're not sure about specific repair requirements.

Obviously, any crack that significantly obscures your view must be repaired immediately and may require the services of a tow truck to get the car safely to the shop. Cracks that are in direct line of sight may also not be reparable due to visual distortions through the repair site, so even small, simple cracks may still necessitate replacement.

How big is the crack?

The exact size of a repairable crack depends on the individual auto repair shop, as well as local laws or regulations. On average, a linear crack up to about 18 or 24 inches can still be repaired without doing a full windshield replacement as long as it's not in the critical area within the driver's line of sight.

Bear in mind that every state has its own Department of Motor Vehicles with some differences in what makes a car street legal, so the exact requirements for your windshield repair or replacement may vary. Always contact your insurance company first; they may pay for the repair, and may also have their own set of rules regarding acceptable repairs. If you were in a more serious accident, always have the collision repair shop like High Point Body & Paint check the seal around the windshield to ensure it's still in working condition even if the glass doesn't show any damage.

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