Windshields have a specific purpose, and that is to provide support for your car as it is subjected to stress when moving at high speeds. Most windshields are comprised of special glass laid on top of each other to give it strength. However, even the strongest windshields get cracked, so the question you should be asking is: do you need to replace it or will repairing it suffice?
Assess the Damage
The majority of windshield cracks can be repaired, but of course this hinges on the size, depth, type of damage and where the damage occurred. The first thing you should do is take your car to a good mechanic and have it inspected: apart from the main crack, your windshield might have suffered other damage you cannot see.
If the crack is three inches long or an inch in diameter, repair is possible, but anything larger than that might require a replacement. However, technological innovation is making it possible to fix even large cracks, but success will depend on the car and the type of damage that was incurred.
Even though windshield cracks may look the same, they’re not, as some cracks are easier to repair compared to others. However, multiple cracks are harder to repair and the mechanic might recommend replacing the windshield if there are too many chips.
And even the best repair job could leave a mark if the damage is severe. Unevenness, mistiness and discoloration will become factors if it affects the driver’s line of sight and pose a danger, so in these cases you’re better off getting a replacement.
Windshield Damage: Other Factors to Consider
Take a look at where the crack occurred: if it is close to the edge there’s a good chance the chipping will reduce the strength of the windshield and weaken the metal frame bonding. This becomes a risk especially for the passenger side so you should have this replaced as soon as possible. Another important thing to consider: large cracks are not the only ones that cause damage, because even small ones can spread and widen if not taken care of.
There also certain types of windshield damage that cannot be repaired, such as those that occur inside the structure, and if the damage affects both layers you need to have it replaced. Repair is also difficult if components like the internal radio antenna or rain sensor are damaged. Any kind of damage in the driver’s viewing area makes the windshield a risk on the road especially if there are several cracks, so replacement is necessary.
The basic rule when it comes to windshield damage is this: if the crack is small –less than an inch- and doesn’t obstruct driving and not located near the edge, it can be repaired by a good mechanic. But long or multiple cracks can be expensive to repair so it’s more practical to replace it. What’s important is that as soon as you see something wrong with the windshield, have it looked over by an expert so you can take the proper action right away.