A vehicle’s windshield is an important safety feature which provides a certain degree of protection to those inside the vehicle in case of an accident. For this reason, every automobile owner has an obligation to ensure that their car windshields are in good condition at all times. In this article, I’m going to discuss the process of getting a damaged windshield replaced properly.
Replace or repair?
The first question that the majority of car owners face when dealing with a cracked or chipped windshield is whether they should have it replaced or repaired. There are pros and cons to both techniques, and sometimes replacement is the only option left. For example:
- If your windshield has suffered a serious chip or crack (more than a couple inches wide), it should probably be replaced.
- Replacement is mandatory in cases where the damage is on the driver’s side of the windshield. That’s because most repair jobs leave the glass looking a little distorted, which can be very distracting when driving.
- Most skilled repair/replacement technicians won’t agree to repair cracks that run along the sides of the glass. That’s because this type of damage tends to spread quickly and is extra difficult to contain.
The first thing you need to find out is whether your windshield is repairable and, since every single case is different, it’s best to check with a skilled and well trained technician to be sure.
Not all replacement companies are made equal
Now, your instinct might be to look for a company that will get your windshield replaced as quickly and as cheaply as possible. When it comes to windshields, that’s simply not the right way to go and here’s why: a windshield is a very important component of a vehicle and a poor replacement job can put your life, as well as the lives of your passengers, in serious danger.
- A properly installed windshield protects you and your passengers from being thrown out of the vehicle during an accident.
- It prevents the roof of your vehicle from collapsing during an accident.
- If your windshield pops out or breaks down completely during an accident, any airbags that deploy will be practically useless.
And this list goes on. Always do your homework well and only work with trustworthy, well trained replacement specialists. Learn about right and wrong ways to replace a windshield, and what to look for when choosing a replacement: Windshield replacement checklist.
How much is it going to cost me?
The exact price of a replacement job is very difficult to tell without knowing all the details. With that said, there are a few major factors that you should focus on.
- The size of the windshield that needs to be replaced will be one of the main factors that determine the price. The bigger your windshield is, the more it is going to cost you to get a new one.
- Complexity and fittings – this means things like mirror attachments, special coatings, heat/rain sensors and so on. All of these add significantly to the cost of windshield replacement.
- Whether you get an OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) or an aftermarket windshield.
OEM: an OEM windshield is going to be identical to the windshield that your car came with when it was brand new. Due to the fact that car manufacturers switch between different auto glass makers all the time, your new windshield might have to be manufactured by a different auto glass company (but it will be made to the exact same specification as the original).
Aftermarket: an aftermarket windshield is a windshield that has been produced by a third-party auto glass manufacturer not related to the auto maker who built your car. These third-party manufacturers do not follow the same specifications and guidelines as OEM auto glass makers, which makes buying/using their products a bit of a gamble, so to speak.
So, which option should you pick? That depends on your quality requirements as well as any existing state laws. Plus, many auto insurance providers only allow OEM replacements, so keep that in mind when making a decision. See OEM vs. Aftermarket windshields, OEM vs. Dealer Windshields, as well as No Deductible Windshield Replacement to learn more.
As you can see, car windscreen replacement is a pretty complex subject, which is not something that most people expect when dealing with a damaged windshield! Now, to top all of this off, some US states have additional laws and regulations that govern how, when and by whom a vehicle’s windshield should be replaced. Other states, such as Arizona, have no such laws – but that doesn’t mean that you are allowed to drive around in a car with a cracked windscreen!