Friday, May 3, 2019

Don’t Trust That Rock Chip in Your Windshield

How soon should you have a windshield chip repaired?

Professional windshield repair equipment in use
Professional windshield repair equipment in use.

A rock chip in your windshield is a hazard any time of year, but especially during seasons of extreme weather changes (like all year round in Kansas). Temperature changes exert uneven forces on your windshield, so any weak point—like a rock chip or small crack—is more likely to turn into a big problem under these conditions. In this article, we’ll discuss how to deal with it and how much money you can save with windshield repair in Wichita, Kansas, compared to buying a new windshield.

The short answer is, “As soon as possible.” Small cracks can quickly become large cracks that require complete windshield replacement, which can cost more than four times as much as a repair job. If the damage is on the driver side, repair is even more important because the distraction of a small blemish can significantly hinder the driver’s perceptions of traffic conditions.

It’s also worth noting that a chip directly in the driver’s line of vision may require windshield replacement, even if it’s minor. This is the because windshield repair can leave minor optical irregularities in the glass—usually not enough to be noticeable, but safety regulations prohibit repairs in this area.

Why small windshield damage is a big deal
Even the smallest chip can weaken the structural integrity of a windshield, making it susceptible to further damage. This can happen from strong winds, flying debris and gravel thrown by the tires of other vehicles. Heat expansion is notorious for spreading cracks to the point that they can no longer be repaired.

The windshield is also a crucial part of your vehicle’s structural safety system, adding support to the roof and passenger compartment, so any damage to it can potentially place vehicle occupants in greater danger during accident scenarios.

Can your windshield be repaired?
Not all kinds of windshield damage can be repaired. It has to be small (generally no larger than a quarter), and it can’t be at the edge of the glass, which more significantly reduces the structural integrity of the vehicle.

A chip or crack with dirt worn into it may also be unrepairable, as contaminants prevent repair resins from bonding evenly in the damaged area—another reason to have it fixed as soon as you notice it.

If your damage is repairable, it’s a very fast process that costs about $50 for single chip or crack. That’s far cheaper than the $200 - $500 price tag for a replacement windshield.
How do technicians repair a windshield?

A vacuum mold is pressed against the windshield and a quick drying plastic resin is injected into the voids of the glass. When the mold is removed, the dried resin (which matches the optical qualities of auto glass) provides a tough, virtually invisible “patch.”

Can you repair your own windshield?
Yes, you can buy a DIY windshield repair kit and do the job yourself, but accomplishing a safe, invisible repair takes some practice. Certified technicians are trained and rehearsed before they ever touch a customer vehicle. When you do a DIY windshield repair, you have only one chance to get the epoxy properly mixed as it enters the void, to apply and remove pressure to the system at exactly the right moments—in short, to get everything right for a good repair.

You’re also at the mercy of the kit, itself; many kits don’t use professional-grade tools and epoxies, and the tools they supply are shoddy at best. The integrity of your windshield should only be trusted to the toughest resins and the best equipment.

Better sooner than later
Not all windshield chips turn into bigger cracks, but most eventually do. You can save yourself cash in the long run by getting them repaired as soon as they happen. The average windshield costs around $200, while the average windshield chip repair costs about $60. And while saving money is always important, the bigger issue with a “harmless” windshield chip is that, under the right circumstances, it can endanger your passengers’ lives.

Call the Glassman in Wichita, Kansas, at (316) 978-0027, and they’ll come to your location to repair small windshield damage before it becomes a big problem. The Glassman also provides services at all Auto Craft locations in Wichita.

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