It all depends on one important factor.
A chip or crack in your windshield isn't the end of the world, but it can lead to a frustrating ordeal if it's not addressed properly and in a timely manner. Not only can a damaged windshield get you pulled over and ticketed in some states, but it can also affect how advanced safety systems operate in modern vehicles. There are options for both repairing and replacing a damaged windshield, and to find out which is right for you, we asked the experts at Safelite AutoGlass®.
If your windshield has less than three chips or a crack that is six inches or smaller, it can usually be repaired, which saves both time and money compared to a full windshield replacement. Some auto glass repair companies claim to be able to repair windshield cracks larger than six inches. However, in Safelite’s experience, the larger the damage, the higher the chance you'll get an unsatisfactory repair. Since the size of the chip matters in terms of being able to repair it, you'll want to take care of small chips or cracks as soon as possible before they grow to a size that requires replacing the whole windshield.
Repairing a chipped or cracked windshield is done by applying resin under a vacuum to the damaged area, curing it to a rock-hard finish using an ultraviolet light, and then polishing the glass. The result is a repair that nearly invisible to the naked eye and protects the integrity of your windshield. It's also quick; Safelite says repairs usually take 30 minutes.
When the damage is not repairable, like a small chip or crack directly in front of a camera or sensor, a windshield replacement is the only way to go. Be sure to choose a company that uses qualified technicians and top-quality materials. While there are many options out there for windshield replacement, Safelite is the only national company that offers a nationwide lifetime warranty for replacements and even guarantees the repair will pass lease turn-back and state vehicle inspections or they will apply your repair cost to the replacement.
A growing number of companies, including Safelite, offer mobile windshield replacement and repair services, which has been an added benefit in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic for vehicle owners who have suffered windshield damage.
According to Safelite, about 80 percent of new vehicles sold today are also equipped with some sort of forward-facing camera that will require recalibration with a windshield replacement, and by next year, all new vehicles are expected to come with this technology.
If you have a newer vehicle with a camera connected to its windshield, this camera will be affected during a windshield replacement. Vehicle manufacturers require advanced safety systems recalibration after a replacement to ensure advanced safety features like automatic emergency braking and forward-collision warning work properly. Safelite will replace your windshield and recalibrate your camera in a single appointment. They can perform this service in one of their shops or at your home depending on the type of recalibration you need.
There are two types of recalibrations depending on the vehicle and type of camera used: static and dynamic. A static recalibration can be performed while the vehicle is in the shop, while a dynamic recalibration requires a road test. Different manufacturers require either a static or dynamic recalibration and both are required for some vehicles. A company like Safelite can tell you if your specific vehicle requires recalibration after a windshield replacement and which tests need to be performed.
So, what does this all mean for vehicle owners who need a windshield repaired or replaced? Be sure to choose a reputable company like Safelite that backs up its work and is up to date on the latest vehicle technologies. As cars get more advanced, you'll want to choose a company that knows how to work with the advanced safety systems in today's cars. And while prices will vary widely by make and model, you should look for a company like Safelite that works with your insurance to provide low- or no-cost repair and replacement and will file the claim on your behalf.