We’ve all been there: as you drive down the road, you notice something both unusual and bone-chilling. A small crack or chip has settled into your windshield, blocking your sight from the bright future ahead of you. Both you and your wallet take a collective sigh. Now, not only do you have to find the time to get a full replacement, but you have to find the funds. A full windshield replacement can be downright terrifying. Auto glass isn’t cheap and neither is modern labor. But, is there a way to fix your windshield without replacing it? Is there a future in which you can make it out of the damage with money still lingering in your wallet?
As auto glass experts, we’ve seen every possible combination and crack in windshields. We also have seen every possible repair and attempted repair (we’ll get to that). Fortunately, we bring you good news. You can fix a windshield without outright replacing it. It’s completely possible. The answer is loaded with a plethora of what-ifs and scenarios, though.
At the end of the day, you aren’t here to hear us wax poetic about our favorite thing in the world, auto glass. So, let’s get to the point.
The Anatomy of a Windshield
Let’s start by breaking down some science (put your lab coats on).
Ultimately, car manufacturers put safety as their top priority when creating a vehicle. Sure, everything breaks under enough force, but modern technology has made windshields invulnerable to tensile stress and five times stronger than steel.
You heard that right. A sheet of glass pulled lengthwise is five times tougher than steel.
Though that sounds like a baffling feat, it makes sense. It has to do with malleability. Glass is stiffer than steel but brittler; glass takes more strength to bend, but once it bends, it’s easy to crack. This tensile strength is bolstered by the way in which modern manufacturers make windshields.
To break it down lightly: a windshield is made from two planes of glass that are thermally treated and then cooled (annealed). They are then put together with a laminate (usually Polyvinyl Butyral), creating a sticky resin plane between the two pieces of glass. Therefore, if the outside of the windshield cracks, the broken pieces will stick to the middle resin and not fly off, avoiding further damage to surrounding objects.
At the end of the day, to understand how to fix a windshield without replacing it, you have to understand what you are looking at. Damage to a windshield does not necessarily damage the entire pane of glass. The usage of two panes isn’t only for safety (though it helps immensely) but to help lower the risk of full breakage.
Unless extremely deep, a normal crack or chip is only on one of the two panes of glass. Therefore, these minor marks can be fixed without fully replacing the entire makeup of the windshield.
Sounds simple enough. Right?
Chips, Cracks, and Dents! Oh My!
To answer the overarching question, you can fix a windshield without replacing it. Overall, it depends on the severity of the damage.
Windshield repairs go one of two ways. A windshield can be replaced entirely or bolstered with a resin injection. These resin injections, first introduced in the 1980s, help fill in and restore the full integrity of the crack or chip. It has become popular due to its lower price, quicker fix times, and strength.
Typically, the repair process involves filling in the chip with the aforementioned transparent resin and cementing the surrounding region in place. When this procedure is completed properly, the windshield is no longer susceptible to additional cracking in the same location. A pane that is no longer vulnerable in this manner is significantly safer. In fact, the resin injection makes your windshield as strong as it was before the damage. No integrity is lost.
If your windshield’s damage is on one of the two planes and is relatively small, you will be able to get it fixed with a resin injection. This injection, both cheap and effective, will save you from having to get your windshield replaced.
Isn’t technology wonderful?
How Small Is Small?
Though resin injections seem like the superhero of windshield technology, it’s not always magical. Sometimes a windshield is just too far past the point of repair.
The key factor in determining a windshield’s repair extent is the size of the damaged area. Overall, it is on a case-by-case basis, but there are a few rules of thumb.
If you have a chip the size of a quarter or a break approximately three inches long, the glass can almost always be fixed by a resin injection. If it is any longer than that, your probability of a full replacement increase drastically. When a smaller crack continues to grow at an alarming rate, you are on your way to a full replacement.
Location Matters, Too!
The location of the damage is another element that may affect your repair options. Cracks and chips at the border of the glass might jeopardize the structural integrity of the vehicle since they tend to spread fast. While you may still be able to repair them if they are discovered in time, in most situations, replacement is the best option.
So, yes. A windshield can be repaired without replacing it. Consequently, it depends on the severity and length of the damage. If it’s too long or breaks through the middle resin, an injection will not restore the full integrity of the glass, making a repair a waste of time and money.
Can I Fix My Windshield Myself?
No. Moving on.
All jokes aside, it’s borderline impossible to fix a windshield without the appropriate tools. If you have the proper tools and resin injection, sure. Unfortunately, these aren’t easy to come by. Furthermore, you want a specialist to oversee the administration of any windshield fixes, especially with the direct correlation to your driving safety.
Don’t jeopardize your safety by doing something haphazardly.
Installing a windshield is an integral process. A windshield does more than just brave the elements. It also keeps your roof from caving in and keeps your airbags working correctly. Therefore, your windshield must be installed correctly and professionally.
Your safety is not worth less than getting your car fixed by a professional; this goes for auto glass, as well. Windshields should meet or exceed OEM standards and be installed with proficiency.
Long story short: you can repair your windshield without replacing it through the use of a resin injection. Unfortunately, the effectiveness of this resin all depends on the size and location of your damage. If significant, an injection will not cure the issue and you will need a full replacement.
At SLP Auto Glass, we offer mobile services across the Denver region. Whether you need a repair or replacement, we can offer you competitive prices for the local market. Let’s get it fixed! Contact us today.