Is Windshield Protection Film for Teslas a Good Idea?

Industry | 9 min read
Published: January 13, 2023

So you finally bit the bullet and are now cruising around in that new fancy Model S, Model X or Model 3. You're saving on gasoline and impressing all your EV-obsessed friends. It's like you're living in the future! But, let's be real, all that innovation that's saving you money and saving the planet is no match for a pesky rock flying at your windshield on the highway. As it turns out, Tesla's haven't quite figured out how to make windshields indestructible (we know, we're as shocked as you are).

But don't worry, we've got your back. Whether you're looking to protect your new baby or are still deciding if Teslas are for you, we'll take you on a journey through the pros and cons of owning a Tesla and show you how to make your already amazing car, even more amazing with windshield protection film. So sit back, relax and let us do the heavy lifting.

Why Your Tesla Needs Windshield Protection

Contrary to popular belief, Tesla windshields aren't made of adamantium like Wolverine's claws. And even if they were using Tesla's Armor glass, we all saw how that went for the Cybertruck demo…(too soon??).

The truth is, for all the advanced tech behind the windshield, that glass is no match for the average rock on the highway. It's like trying to stop a bullet with a slice of bread. No different than the average gas guzzling machine on the road, windshields are susceptible to damage, but the difference is what’s behind the windshield.

Your Tesla, like many other modern vehicles on the road, is equipped with a lot of innovative tech to give you that seamless driving experience you know and love. Like having a personal robot butler, except it's a car. Their autopilot system was ahead of its time, and we have no doubt that Tesla will continue to push the boundaries of these autonomous driving systems that will eventually pave the way for self-driving cars (like having a personal chauffeur!).

One of the most critical aspects of this technology is your car’s ability to accurately and reliably “see” the road and the surroundings so that it can make snap decisions to keep you safe on the road. This relies on a whole host of sensors and cameras mounted around the car, and notably, behind the windshield, to monitor the road ahead. 

While it is highly unlikely that you’ll encounter a rock that goes right through the windshield and damages these cameras and sensors, any imperfections or damage to the windshield will essentially confuse these sensors and cause them to behave strangely. This could range from small things like mis-aligning the lane markings, to much more serious ones like missing the vehicle in front of you. 

This is one of the biggest issues that the automotive industry faces and will continue to face as we rely increasingly on these systems to help us drive safely. If you look at most driver handbooks for any vehicle that has even the most common advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), any damage to the windshield needs to be addressed by a glass professional, or in some cases the dealership, to make sure the cameras and sensors are properly calibrated every time your windshield is repaired or replaced. 

While we can all appreciate the caution of taking this extra calibration step, the reality is that drivers are paying more for windshield replacements than ever before - partly because of the added labor associated with this step.

The Cost to Replace A Tesla Windshield in 2023

Let’s look at some of the average cost for chip repair and complete windshield replacement.

Tesla S Model Windshield Replacement: $575 – $950
Tesla S Model Repair Surface Chip (per Chip): $55 – $75 
Tesla X Model Windshield Replacement: $1,450 – $2,300
Tesla X Model Repair Surface Chip (per Chip): $55 - $75
Tesla Model 3 Windshield Replacement: $1,600 – $1,750
Tesla Model 3 Repair Surface Chip (per Chip): $55 – $75
Tesla Model Y Windshield Replacement: $1,565 – $1,685
Tesla Model Y Repair Surface Chip (per Chip): $55 – $75

Depending on the model and year of your beloved Tesla, you’ll end up paying out anything from $575 to $2,300, and since inflation is driving up prices for pretty much everything, that could be even more by 2024. Basically - it’s not cheap.

Oh and if you think insurance will cover you - think again. Most drivers (we’re guilty of it too) are in the dark about what their insurance does and does not cover. Not to mention the possibility of premiums conveniently going up after 1 or 2 windshield-related bills on the books. The truth is that insurers are starting to lose money on a lot of these “routine” claims because they can’t keep up with the rising costs, which unfortunately usually results in more of that burden being pushed on to us - the customer. 

All this is to say - if you’re wondering whether or not it’s a good idea to do something to protect your windshield - the answer is ABSOLUTELY.

What Is Windshield Protection Film?

Pretty much the only reliable way to protect your windshield (short of avoiding driving altogether) is to have windshield protection film installed on your Tesla. 

Windshield protection film is a thin, completely transparent film designed to protect your windshield from rock chips under your usual driving conditions (in other words - it will not prevent bullets or asteroids from damaging your windshield, but can handle most small rocks). It also helps to protect your glass from scratches or wear and tear that happens over time.

Windshield protection film has come a long way since it started gaining popularity about 5 years ago. Modern windshield protection films incorporate nanomaterials to improve the performance of the film without compromising features like optical clarity or longevity. 

ExoShield, for example, is made of premium-grade polyethylene terephthalate (PET) topped with our endurance class nanocoatings system to make it resistant to scratches, chemicals, and UV damage. The PET layer is designed to absorb the impact of any rocks or other debris that hit the film, which means that the force of the rock on a single point on the windshield is diminished, and the windshield is much less likely to break.The film is designed to take the bulk of the damage, leaving your windshield looking like new after you remove the film once it’s usable lifetime has passed (usually ~2 years).

Pro Tip: Don't be fooled by 'impact resistant' coatings

The only way to really protect your windshield from cracks or chips is to add an impact-absorbing layer. While there are some not-so-reputable coatings on the market that claim to protect your windshield from damage - be very wary of these claims! Reputable ceramic coatings may be able to reduce light scratching, and increase the hydrophobicity of the windshield, but will do nothing if a rock hits your windshield at highway speeds. Best case scenario? You can usually layer a high-quality ceramic coating on top of a film like ExoShield to give you protection that lasts even longer, plus allowing you to reap any additional benefits offered by the coating itself.

Does Windshield Protection Film Affect Tesla's Autopilot System?

We’ve spent so much time talking about all these sensitive cameras and sensors behind your windshield, that you’re more than likely wondering whether or not adding a film to your windshield will affect these systems. 

While we can’t speak for every product on the market, most premium films will be completely compatible with any sensors or cameras behind the windshield. ExoShield is specifically tested for optical clarity, and is actually optimized to be more clear than the windshield alone, making it completely transparent to any visible light or frequencies used by the ADAS sensors. 

That being said, always make sure to do your research about any other films you’re considering! There are some film products available that are designed for more niche applications or are made of materials that are naturally less optically clear, which could affect your Autopilot system.

Where to Buy Windshield Protection Film For Your Tesla

If you’ve reached the end of this and are wondering how, when, and where to get windshield protection for your Tesla (or other vehicles), then you’re in the right place. If you want specific details about getting your car’s windshield protected, we recommend chatting with one of our certified installers. They’ll be able to advise you on things like benefits, timing, and cost. If you just want to learn more about windshield protection film and the different technologies available on the market, we recommend browsing our post here on how to choose the right windshield protection film for you.

Looking for windshield protection? Check out our list of trusted installers all over the world to talk to an expert!

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