Should You Repair or Replace a Cracked Windshield?

iStock 852120002 Credit: Glazier using tools repairing to fix crack windshield

A small crack in the windshield can easily become a major problem for you if you run over a bump in the road or if the windshield is damaged further. Small cracks and chips can be easy to miss, but once you’ve spotted one, it's important to take your vehicle to a specialist. The good news is that if the chip is less than six inches, you should be able to get the windshield repaired rather than replaced. If you have more than three small chips or cracks in the windshield you should consider replacing it. Also if the crack is in the driver’s line of sight, replacing the windshield can be the best option.

Windshield Laws

State laws differ when it comes to whether you can drive with a cracked windshield or not. For example, in Wisconsin, the law states that you can drive with a crack but it can’t be in a critical area, for example, the windshield wiper area. Bear in mind that windshields are designed for your safety so that in an accident glass doesn’t shatter into shards aimed at the driver and passengers. A cracked window can take that quality out of the windshield so for safety reasons, you should get the window repaired or replaced.

Insurance

If you live in Florida, Kentucky or South Carolina, you’re in luck because your deductible is waived for windshield replacement. If you have to pay for the repair yourself, figure on $50 to $60 to repair a crack that’s less than one foot in length and between $60 and $70 if the crack’s up to two feet long. The smallest of cracks is far easier and cheaper to repair as a glass cleaning kit costing around $30 can be used to correct tiny cracks.

Windshield Replacement

Replacing a windshield is much more expensive. You’ll need a few hundred dollars on hand for that. The replacement cost for a typical passenger vehicle is between $150 and $300. You’ll be able to replace the windshield on an SUV, pickup truck or mini-van for similar money but if you need a replacement for a luxury vehicle, you’ll have to pay a little extra. The cost of replacement for a Tesla Model X, which boasts the biggest windshield on the market, is $2,300. If you think that’s expensive, think again. You’ll need $4,300 for a new windshield for a Bentley Bentayga.

Time and Money

How long should a windshield replacement take? In some cases, the damaged windshield can be replaced with a new one in 30 minutes but it can take up to an hour for some vehicles. Once it’s replaced, you should leave the vehicle for at least an hour before driving as the urethane adhesive that bonds the windshield to the vehicle needs that time to cure. So overall, the whole process will take two hours at most.

Do It Yourself

You can fix a windshield yourself if the crack’s small enough and you buy a specialized kit but you might be wasting your time and money if you don’t do a good enough job and the crack returns and ultimately widens out across the windshield. As with any safety feature on the car, you should get an expert to check it out rather than rely on your own judgment. Getting a quote for repair never costs so take it to a specialist.