If your windshield has been damaged, it can be hard to know whether you need to hire a windshield repair service or replace it completely. A windshield replacement is usually more expensive, but a quality repair may be impossible if the damage is past a certain point. Below are a few questions that you can ask yourself to help make the right decision. As always, if you have any questions, contact a windshield repair company immediately.
How Big Is the Crack?
If the chip is tiny, you may be able to get away with a simple windshield repair job. In these circumstances, the technician may be able to fill in the hole with a compound and then buff it out so that it's imperceptible. The National Windshield Repair Association (NWRA) describes a repairable chip as anything smaller than 2 inches, while a crack must be less than 14 inches. Anything larger than that, and the entire windshield will need to be replaced completely.
Where Is the Crack?
While damage anywhere on the windshield is a threat to its structural integrity, the location of the chip or crack can make a huge difference. For instance, even a tiny chip that is directly inside your field of vision can be dangerous, since a glare or a slight distortion can cause you to not see as clearly. A chip or crack along the side of the windshield can also be dangerous, but for completely different reason: leakage. Any damage along the edges of the windshield is harder to fix, so don't be surprised if the technician recommends a full replacement.
How Deep Is the Crack?
It may be hard to determine on the outside, but the depth of the chip or crack can also influence whether you'll need a windshield repair or replacement. Despite what some people think, a windshield actually has several different layers—two outer layers of glass surrounding an interior layer of plastic. While a chip that has only penetrated through the top layer of glass is usually fixable, damage that has affected all three layers usually requires a full windshield replacement.
How Many Cracks are There?
One crack is bad enough, but if you have more than two, it's a smart decision to get the entire windshield replaced. Modern cars count on the windshield to contribute to the structural integrity of the vehicle, so if it's compromised—even if the cracks are minor—it'll cause major damage. You should probably have it replaced immediately if that's the case.
For more information when you're deciding between windshield replacement or repair, talk to a windshield repair professional in your area.