Windshield Repairs vs Windshield Replacement — The Right Choice

Windshield Repairs | Windshield Replacement | Madison WI | Auto Color

Waiting for the light to change, a gust of wind and a chunk of ice fractures your windshield. It could be a little chip or a major break. Either way, you’ll have to decide: “Can it be repaired or must the windshield be replaced?”

Wisconsin winters are known for potholes. Potholes that create ice, rock, gravel and cement missiles targeting you car’s paint, headlights and windshield. Windshield replacement and windshield repairs are high priorities in Madison WI this time of year. When debris hits the windshield, you know something has to be done. The first question is, “What?” Can this crack or chip be fixed or must the whole windshield be replaced? The right choice not only saves time and money, it impacts the safety of your vehicle.

Windshield Repairs for Minor Damage

Minor windshield damage is usually one of two things – a crack or a chip (sometimes a combination). A chip is usually clearly defined by a central point of impact. It may look like a star, a bullseye, a half moon, a gouge or pit.  Cracks create distinctive lines in the glass and can range  from an inch or less to span the entire windshield. You will know these when you see them!

Whether or not the windshield can be repaired depends upon four things:

  1. Overall Size —technology for windshield repairs is expanding all the time, but there is a size limit to what can be safely repaired. In general, cracks up to about 3 inches long and chips that can be covered by a quarter are easily repaired. Although, depending upon the shape and location of a chip or crack, those sizes can be expanded. The National Windshield Repair Association (NWRA) suggests that the upper limits of windshield repairs for chips be a space of 3 inches in diameter while cracks up to 14 inches are candidates for windshield repairs. A key factor is the location on the windshield and the technology available to the repair service.
  2. Location — where the damage occurs is a determining factor in repair or windshield replacement options. If the damage extends to the window frame there’s greater chance of structural damage – the integrity of the windshield may be compromised. Today’s windshields can be responsible for as much as 60% of a vehicle’s strength in a rollover accident, so there should be no taking chances with its reliability. Another location that dictates replacement rather than windshield repairs is damage directly in a driver’s line of sight. With windshield repairs there’s always a chance of a slight distortion in the repaired glass that could impact the driver’s view.

In today’s vehicles equipped with high-tech options like rain sensors, lane departure warning systems, auto braking sensors and other driver assistance systems repairs in these sensitive locations may not be advisable.

  1. Depth — Related to the size of the damaged area, the depth of penetration into the glass is a consideration. Modern windshields are basically a “glass sandwich” with multiple layers of material. If damage is limited to the outermost layer, repair is possible. If it’s deeper, a windshield replacement is in order.
  2. Overall Safety — It is not OK to drive around with a cracked windshield. Even the slightest chip can pose a safety risk. Consider:
  • In a frontend collision the windshield provides up to 45% of the structural integrity of the cabin area.
  • In a rollover that’s more than 60%

No Single Solution Is Always Right

Each time a windshield suffers from an inappropriate meeting with debris, the correct course of action will be determined by the previous four elements. At the same time, consider:

Advantages of Windshield Repairs –

  • No risk of a bad installation, window leaks, etc.
  • Poor quality repair is immediately visible
  • Insurance policies often cover repairs at 100% without invoking any deductible copayments

Disadvantages of Windshield Repairs –

  • Any sign of the crack or chip shows the windshield is weak
  • Visual flaws may not show up until night driving, etc.
  • There is some evidence to show that even the best repairs do not return a windshield to optimum strength

Advantages of Window Replacement –

  • A new windshield is a strong windshield with a surface similar – often better – than the original
  • There are no visible flaws
  • Replacement windshields must meet or exceed all regulations and factory specification

Disadvantages of Windshield Replacement –

  • A low quality installation may result in water leaks, wind noise and an unsafe vehicle

Dealing with Insurance For Windshield Repairs 

Windshield repairs and windshield replacement are covered by most auto insurance policies. But not all coverage is the same. When your windshield takes a hit, prepare to deal with your agent to get the best result for you and your vehicle. When dealing with an insurance company, keep in mind:

  1. You don’t have to use the windshield replacement company the agent suggests. An agent will likely recommend one or two shops in the area. These recommendations may be solely based upon the final price without any consideration of quality performance. Insurance companies are all about saving their money. You are not obligated to work with their preferred shop. The key in your final decision is making sure the shop you choose will accept your insurance company.
  2. Know what your insurance policy actually covers. Review your policy before choosing a repair shop. If you’re unsure, go directly to your agent. Comprehensive coverage usually includes windshield repairs and windshield replacement. But, that also means the your deductibles will apply to replacements – and a windshield replacement is often less expensive than your deductible so it pays to be sure.
  3. It may be less expensive for you to pay for a replacement windshield than work with your insurance company. If your deductible is more than$250-$300 you are better off shopping for a fair cash price. By doing your homework you can avoid the paperwork of an insurance claim and getting a quality repair for less.
  4. How will filing a claim impact my policy? In most cases rock chips and cracked windshields are not considered your fault so this kind of damage isn’t likely to raise your premiums. If your claim is for windshield repairs rather than a complete replacement, even deductibles are often waved. Only by asking you agent will you know for sure if filing a claim for windshield replacement will increase your future premiums.

When Road Hazards Literally ‘Hit’ Your Vehicle – Go to a Pro

When you need a full-service body shop, auto body painting or windshield glass repairs in Madison WI, call Auto Color first. Visit either of our two complete auto body shop locations in the Madison WI area – West on Parmenter Road in Middleton and East on Stoughton Road. These professionally-equipped shops serve all of Dane County including Verona, Waunakee, Fitchburg, Sauk City, McFarland, Middleton, Monona, Cottage Grove, Sun Prairie and Deforest.

Call Auto Color Middleton at 608-831-9554 or Auto Color East Madison at 608-221-5041, or email us to connect with specialists to deal with a windshield replacement and windshield repairs in Madison WI.

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