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How to Handle A Cracked Windshield
Carmarkets Pointers on Repairing and Replacing Windshields
If you have ever driven behind a large truck on the interstate or lived in a climate that requires frequent snow removal, chances are that you have experienced the frustration of having your windshield cracked by an errant stone. Not only is it hazardous to drive with this obstruction, but chances are that that the crack will spread to cover a larger portion of the glass. Most consumers have long believed that a cracked windshield must be replaced. This misconception probably stemmed from insurance companies willingly reimbursing claims for cracked windshields. This is not necessarily true any longer. New technologies have been developed that make it possible to flawlessly repair windshields that previously would have been trashed. Insurance companies, recognizing their cost savings if windshields are repaired, have begun to reward customers who seek to repair instead of replace by paying the repair deductible and bill. Currently, most large insurers will pay the bill but require the owner to pay the deductible on a replaced windshield.
How do they repair a windshield?
The glass specialist at your local shop will fill in the cracked or chipped area with glue like clear resin. Once the resin is in the glass, it is cured and polished to match the rest of the glass. Different cracks and chips respond differently to the treatment. Only rarely will the glass appear as new; most of the time the blemish is still obvious. In either case, you can rest assured that it will not spread any longer. The resin prevents the damage from ever getting worse.
When is repair appropriate?
Needless to say, it depends. Whether or not replacement or repair is necessary depends on many factors, but most importantly the size and location of the damage. A good rule of thumb is that most shops can repair up to three-inch cracks or quarter sized chips in the glass. Some national chains, such as Novus, can repair cracks up to a foot long by using proprietary techniques. Windshields are the type of item, however, that must be evaluated individually. Cracks that begin in the corners of the glass are often difficult to repair, as is any damage caused by heavy objects or wrecks. In these cases, the structural strength of the glass may be compromised. Anytime this is the case the windshield must be replaced to ensure safety for the occupants of the vehicle.
Shop around for the best price.
Since broken windshields are so common, there are usually several local windshield repair specialists around to offer competitive pricing. Costs to repair chips are similar nationwide, averaging about forty to fifty dollars to repair the first chip, and usually ten dollars extra for each additional chip. The cost to repair a crack is roughly the same ($40-$50) for cracks up to three inches. Anything longer may require specialists such as Novus, who charges $70 to repair cracks up to a foot long. Even at $70, repairing your windshield still only costs five or ten percent of what replacement costs.
Costs to replace your windshield can vary greatly depending on the type of vehicle and the type of replacement glass installed. In addition to the glass, a molding kit and labor must also be factored into the higher cost. One thing is for certain. That is that car dealerships charge, on average, 80% more to replace windshields than automotive glass shops. The primary difference is in the glass used. Dealers typically use an Original Equipment Manufacturer windshield that is identical to the one that was originally on the car. The local glass shops, meanwhile, use windshields of comparable quality and safety from other suppliers. The glass is identical, but less expensive.
An automotive glass specialists or the dealer may seem the logical place to have the work done, but do not forget about other resources. Some places have facilities specially designed for windshield repair, and mobile windshield repair vehicles and general glass services also are viable alternatives. See who can do it the cheapest.
Will my insurance company reimburse me?
The answer we got from most insurance agencies is yes. Your insurance agency will cover the cost of repairing or replacing your damaged windshield. Because the cost of replacing a windshield is significantly higher than repairing it, the insurance company is likely to treat the deductible differently in the two cases. If you replace the windshield, be prepared to pay the deductible yourself. Some insurance companies pass along the substantial savings by paying the deductible themselves for repaired windshields. This is worth looking in to.
The most important aspect of the repair or replace debate is ultimately the safety of the car occupants. Any glass specialist should be able to evaluate the condition of your windshield and recommend a course of action. If your windshield is really in bad condition, it is well worth the additional expense to have it replaced with a new one.
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