Your vehicle’s windscreen is not just there to keep the elements and bugs at bay. It is a fundamental part of the vehicle’s structure, which means you should be taking care of it and making it a priority to fix any chips as soon as they occur, before they expand or turn into cracks.
Your car’s windscreen was designed to stand up to strong winds, heavy snowfall, sheets of rain and even the occasional projectile. In the unfortunate event of an accident, it’s capable of withstanding a considerable amount of pressure from debris or contact with heavy objects or another vehicle. Today’s vehicles are fitted with laminated glass windscreens, made of multiple layers, rendering them much stronger and resistant to breaking into pieces even when hit by something large, unlike their counterparts from earlier decades, which would shatter on impact and cause injury to the driver and passenger as well as spraying the road with debris. The glass laminated windscreens of this century are also engineered to have some yield, which means they bend slightly when hit and can absorb the force being exerted, rather than literally cracking under pressure.
That being said, you still need to keep an eye out for any minute chips that could develop and check your windscreen carefully for any damage should an object strike it or in the event of an accident. Aside from the important safety aspect, the sooner you identify and fix the chip – before it grows or turns into a crack – the less expensive and time consuming the repair will be. If you delay, you could also find yourself facing a fine for a traffic offense or failing your fitness warranty/certification.
What should you do if you find your windscreen has a chip?
Get it fixed, stat. This is not one of those things you should sit on or ignore, imagining it to be purely a cosmetic issue. You may think that one small chip can’t be that big a deal, but getting that little chip attended to immediately means a lower bill for you and, more importantly, is essential to maintaining the car’s safety and structural integrity. What you really don’t want to have happen is for that little chip to deepen or to widen into a crack; or worse, a fine spiderweb across your windscreen, which would likely necessitate replacing the entire thing.
The location of the chip on your windshield will affect your repair versus replace options. For example, should the chip be located 50mm or less from the edge of the windscreen, it may mean replacing the entire windscreen, even if the chip itself is small. Chips larger than 30mm that are in the driver’s line of sight will also require replacing rather than repairing, for safety’s sake. Sometimes a small crack is also possible to repair.
How much is it going to cost you?
There’s a couple of different ways that the repair shop could handle the costing: charging an upfront repair fee with added (but reduced) pricing for each additional chip or pricing out the entire job for one flat fee. We suggest you do some research and compare prices, since the quotes/pricing can fluctuate quite a bit from one windshield repair vendor to another. But don’t compromise on quality and durable materials – as we mentioned above, the windscreen is integral to your vehicle’s structure. Overall, depending on the severity of the chip, you may shell out $85 to $200 on repairing it. Replacing the windscreen is going to be a costlier affair, so if you can get to the repair as soon as you notice it, you will save money.
If you have car insurance this is often covered within your policy.
What does the repair or replacement process entail?
The good news about repairing a chip is that it is a relatively painless and fast process that should be completed in half an hour, though of course, if the chips are large or numerous, it makes take slightly longer. The cost will vary accordingly as well.
As to the repair process, resin is injected into the chip using a system designed especially for this purpose. The resin creates a patch of sorts, repairing the chip and making it virtually undetectable from the rest of the glass, not to mention as strong as before. A quick online search may show you DIY options but, given how vital a chip-free windscreen is, it’s far better to get it taken care of by trained professionals.
There are, unfortunately, times when a chip cannot be repaired, or else develops rapidly into a crack before you’ve noticed or had a chance to act. The elements in New Zealand can be a factor, especially the biting cold or a particularly hot summer, as well as the strong winds. Even something like slamming the door of your car hard could exacerbate the situation, turning a chip into an irreparable crack.
Replacing the windscreen is usually a half-day job and involves cutting the old windscreen’s seal, putting in the new windscreen and then giving time for the primer/seal applied to the frame to cure and fully take hold.
Do note that if your car has an Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) then the replacement windscreen requires calibration. This should be carried out by an approved vendor, to ensure that the ADAS system can continue to provide precise blind spot monitoring, navigation, collision avoidance and proximity warning.