Beside the seatbelt, your car’s windshield is one of your major safety nets when driving. This is why if you accidentally damage your windshield, you need to fix it as soon as possible. Most car owners have trouble deciding whether they should repair or replace their damaged windshield. If you’re in such a conundrum, you should always show the scope of the damage to an auto glass expert. For the meantime, we’re here to help you clear up any questions about windshield replacement and auto glass repair in general. Let’s dive right in.
Cracked Windshield versus Chipped Windshield
The first thing to remember is that windshield cracks and damages can be caused by various sources and not all damages will be the same. This means that while a small chip may look insignificant, the location of the chip might mean the whole windshield is compromised and needs replacement. An example is when the damage is directly affecting the line-of-sight of the driver. Before we dive deep on the types of damage, let’s first look at how a windshield works and how it's put together.
Windshield glass is also referred to as “safety glass”. This is because windshield glass is not a single piece of glass but two pieces that are combined together using a laminated plastic layer between them. Windshield glass is designed this way so that when damaged, it breaks into smaller pieces which are far less dangerous than huge pieces of glass.
A chipped windshield is caused by impacts that damage a portion of the glass layer. If it’s small enough, you can easily send it in for repair. However, if the chip is deep enough, it might need a replacement. Even though small chips on your windshield may not be a significant concern at first, it can worsen and become sources where cracks can grow.
Unlike a chip, cracks are distinct because there is a line where the glass has begun to separate. Cracks can start off small and eventually grow over time. Changes in temperature can expand and contract your windshield. This can either be exposing your windshield to the hot Sun or driving around in frigid air during winter. This whole process can cause any cracks present in the windshield to gradually spread and worsen. Everyday stress on your vehicles can also cause cracks in your windshield to expand. Stressors include irregular roads, potholes, speed bumps, etc.
Small dirt particles can also find their way inside cracks which makes it worse. If you want a temporary solution before you go to an auto glass expert, you can place a small tape over the crack to prevent it from spreading. Cracks and chips aren’t mutually exclusive. It’s not uncommon to find a combination of the two in one windshield.
Is it Safe to Drive with a Cracked Windshield?
The short is no, it is not safe to drive with a cracked windshield. This is true regardless of the type of damage to the windshield. It should be addressed by an auto glass expert as soon as possible. Your car’s windshield is a very important safety feature. A damaged windshield loses its structural integrity. This means that it may become a visual obstruction, or worse, won’t be able to withstand an impact from a flying object. You can even fail your car inspection if the crack in your windshield is significant enough.
It is a very bad idea to leave a small chip or crack in your windshield because it rarely stays small. The more a chip or crack spreads through your windshield, the weaker it becomes. This increases the likelihood of the windshield failing and becoming a serious driving hazard.
Is it Illegal to Drive with a Cracked Windshield in Norwalk CT?
Connecticut laws that concern cracks and chips only state that the windshield must be in an adequate condition that does not obstruct the driver’s view on the road.
When Should I Go for Windscreen Repair?
Windscreen repair is a lot cheaper compared to a windshield replacement. Whether your auto glass expert can repair your windshield will depend on the type, size, location, and also thickness of the damage. A good rule of thumb to follow is that if the windscreen chip is shallow, about smaller than 40 mm in diameter, you can still repair it instead of going for a full replacement. Another thing to keep in mind is that, at most, two chips on your windshield can still be repaired. More than that, you’re going to need to replace it.
Another thing to consider is that if the shallow chip is located at the slight center of your windshield while being away from the driver’s vision, your auto glass expert can most likely repair it instead of replacing. The most important thing to remember is that the later you go to an auto glass expert for repairs, the higher chance the small chip or crack will get worse, which in turn will lead to a replacement.
How Does Car Window Repair Work?
Repairing a windshield needs precise skill and plenty of experience to pull off. The windshield repairman injects resin into the damaged/chipped area. Holes are also drilled into the cracks to prevent them from spreading. The quicker you take your windshield to an auto glass expert, the higher your chances of avoiding the more expensive route of windshield replacement.
When Should I Go for Windshield Replacement?
There are a few instances where a windshield replacement is a very clear option. A good example is when a rock flings and makes a considerable hole through the windshield. Another is when your windshield develops multiple chips throughout its lifespan, sometimes even filling up the entire surface. If any of these scenarios happens to your car windshield, immediately contact an auto glass expert near you.
Just as stated before, not all instances of windshield damage are as simple and clear cut as the two examples above. Sometimes, smaller chips and cracks may also become the reason why your windshield might need a replacement. A good rule of thumb to follow is that if your car’s front window has any cracks anywhere, it is time to replace it.
Whether you want to replace it as soon as possible or you want to wait for a couple of months, the ultimate goal is to replace the old windshield. This is because cracks weaken the entire structural integrity of the windshield. If you experience a minor accident, you’ll have a higher risk of completely shattering the windshield or even detaching it, hurting everyone sitting inside the car.
When Should I Replace My Windshield?
Here are some pointers you should look out for when deciding whether you need a windshield replacement.
The size of the crack is longer than a dollar bill - some long cracks can still be repaired but if the size is longer than a dollar bill, it should be replaced as soon as possible.
The windshield glass is tempered, not laminated. - laminated glass means that when damaged, it doesn’t shatter into small pieces, instead it holds together. The rear and side windows of a car are generally tempered glass which means it shatters into pieces when damaged. The only option for this is replacement.
The chip or crack is deep enough that it penetrates more than halfway into the glass. - Any chips or cracks that penetrate both the outer and inner layer of the laminated windshield will need immediate replacement. If the damage only reaches the outer layer, it still needs to be checked because it can expose the inside plastic layer to the elements.
Watch Out For Windshield Replacement Scams
You need to watch out for windshield replacement scams. These scams could be insurance fraud. These scams include offers such as “free” windshield replacements, free replacements for undamaged windshields, etc.
Here are some steps you can take to avoid falling for these windshield replacement scams.
You shouldn’t postpone until it is too late. If your windshield is damaged, especially the front windshield, you should immediately contact your local auto glass expert. If you’re from Norwalk CT or the surrounding areas, Auto Glass is there to help you.
Professional technicians at Norwalk Auto Glass are equipped with the latest technology and industry techniques to tackle even the most difficult windshield repair and replacement jobs. We strongly believe that your windshield is a vital part of keeping you and your passengers safe and should be repaired as soon as possible. Our team of experts can get the job done within a few hours. We provide a wide variety of auto glass services such as car window replacement, car window repair, rear window replacement, rear window repair, and more.
Contact Norwalk Auto Glass today for high-quality and reliable auto glass repair and replacement services.