You've probably heard that you should always repair windshield damage as soon as you notice it. While this approach might seem extreme for minor chips and cracks, there's a good reason this advice is so common. Glass can flex and change shape with temperature changes. Unfortunately, these imperceptible changes will often cause even tiny chips to expand into massive cracks.
A replacement was often the only option for significant cracks, chips, and other blemishes in the past. The methods available to technicians couldn't produce proper repairs for these problems, creating unacceptably cloudy or weak glass. Modern techniques allow technicians to repair much more significant problems, but sometimes a replacement is still the best or only option available.
When WON'T a Repair Work?
It's important to understand that windshield repair techniques typically use a filler that restores the structural integrity of the glass while also hiding most of the underlying blemish. These repairs are effective, but they don't always restore 100% optical clarity to the window. You may still notice some cloudiness or other distortions in the glass for significant damage.
As a result, some cracks and chips may not be good candidates for repair. For example, large chips in the driver's line of sight may still impact visibility even after repair. In other cases, the damage may be too extensive to fix while keeping the glass structurally sound. Deep cracks and chips often fall into this category, and you generally can't repair any damage that you can feel on both sides of the windshield.
Repair technicians also need to consider the overall structural integrity of the glass. Surprisingly, your car's windshield helps keep the cabin intact during certain types of accidents, such as rollovers. When a crack spans from one edge to another, the glass may stand up to these stresses. Although a repair will restore some strength, it's rarely enough to ensure the vehicle will remain safe in an accident.
How Do You Know You Need a Replacement?
While you can try to judge the size, depth, and location of your windshield damage yourself, it's best to leave the final inspection to a trained professional. Windshield repair technicians understand the difference between repairable damage and issues that require replacement. An expert will also be able to examine your windshield for other issues that may prevent a proper repair.
If you learn that your windshield requires replacement, it's important not to put off this essential job. A structurally compromised windshield may be unsafe in an accident, putting you and your passengers at risk. While replacing your entire windshield is more costly than a repair, it's a step that's necessary to ensure that you're not putting yourself or your passengers in harm's way.
For more information on windshield replacement, contact a company like Auto Glass Experts.