Windshield Repairs: When to Fix vs. Replace

Do you need a glass repair shop? Here’s what to do when your windshield takes a hit.  

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First comes the sound: Ping! Crack! Thwack!  

Then you see the result of that sound: Something hit your windshield and left its mark. Don’t panic, though, because a small chip or small crack isn’t likely to spread before you can get to safety. And many times, the chip or crack in the damaged area can be repaired.  

But what should you do if a stranger offers to fix your windshield damage at no charge? Because cracked windshields are the most frequent auto insurance claim in the United States, there’s a possibility you’re being targeted by an insurance defrauder. If that’s the case, their goal is to get a reimbursement from your insurance company, not perform a quality windshield repair. They may even file a claim stating they completed a windshield installation when they only made repairs.   

And once they have your personal information to file a claim, there’s a good chance they’ll attempt to file more fraudulent claims against your policy without your knowledge.  

For your own peace of mind, follow these guidelines for windshield repairs to restore your glass to its former glory.  

Windshield 101: Replacement or repair services?

A technician replacing the windshield on a passenger car. iStock

Even small chips need to be repaired. If left alone, a windshield chip or crack can grow or take on water, fogging up the windshield and obstructing vision. And changing temperatures can cause minor cracks to worsen, resulting in the need for a full windshield replacement—at a much higher cost.

Typically, a simple test determines what auto glass repair remedy is needed. If a chip’s diameter is an inch or less (roughly the width of a quarter), the chip usually can be repaired. Windshield cracks can generally be repaired if a dollar bill can cover them entirely. Both of these windshield repairs (done either at an auto glass repair facility or with a DIY kit) requires an injection of epoxy that works like caulk. If the crack is larger than a dollar bill or if it’s close to the edge of the windshield, the glass' structural integrity may be compromised and you’ll likely need to have it replaced by a professional.

And even if the chip or crack is small, you may need a windshield replacement anyway if it’s directly in your sightline. Even though repaired glass is as strong as new, it often retains a visible mark. A glass technician can advise on whether a full replacement of the entire windshield is necessary.

Filing your insurance claim for auto glass replacement or repair

Woman Phoning For Help After Car Windshield Has Broken iStock

Your insurance company will work with you to fix your car  windshield, but you should contact them before you have the damage repaired. If you have full glass coverage, the windshield repair—or even a replacement—can be done without you paying a deductible. If you don’t have this coverage, your comprehensive insurance will cover the cost, but there may be a deductible if the windshield has to be replaced. 

With car insurance through AAA, you can submit an auto glass claim online.

Windshield repairs are usually quick (less than an hour) and can sometimes be done by the repair company at your home or workplace, getting you safely back on the road with minimal inconvenience.

If your car is equipped with a driver assistance system that uses a camera mounted behind the windshield, original equipment replacement glass may be required and the camera must be calibrated after the new windshield is installed. --- Please Remove this ----

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