Before we start to even think about repair or replacement, it’s important to realize that not all windshield damage is created equal! Depending on the type and severity of the damage, you'd be amazed at what can be repaired.
Let's start by getting familiar with what types of damage you're most likely to see. There are generally 6 types of windshield damage:
3. Clamshell Breaks
5. Line Fractures
6. Combination Fractures
Of these, some are repairable, and some are not. So when do you know that it's just a simple repair vs having to shell out $2k for the full replacement?
Well, in general, line cracks are not repairable. While some auto glass specialists may tell you it’s possible, it’s not easy, and you can end up with an ugly scar on your windshield that can be distracting (and potentially dangerous) while you're driving. Insurance companies typically follow the guideline of anything longer than a credit card is beyond the scope of repair.
But what about chips in the windshield? As far as chips are concerned, your top level glass repair guys can usually fix anything smaller than a quarter pretty safely. Anything bigger is going to leave a very noticeable scar in the windshield, which again, can be distracting and dangerous. Plus, if you’re someone who puts a lot of time into maintaining their vehicle, that scar is going to bother you.
Obviously, if you are faced with a chip, it's worth seeing what your repair options are before doing anything, but it's always nice to go in there with some expectations.
Look - maybe it's just us, but being people who care a lot about windshields, we don't think you should ever be driving with a cracked or broken windshield. Small chips can get bigger over time if left unattended to (see the next section for more on this), plus anything on your glass that could impair your vision is just not worth it!
There’s also the matter of legality which is important to be considered. You may be tempted to wait to repair or replace your windshield when you first get that chip or crack, but in most states it’s illegal to drive with any damage within the driver’s line of sight, so make sure you’re up to date with the laws in your area before choosing to put off that repair.
One of the major concerns you’ll likely hear when you have a chip in your windshield, is that you better get it fixed before it turns into something bigger. But how much truth is there in that?
Well - unfortunately, those small, “harmless” chips or cracks that you may be tempted to leave on the passenger side window can spider out to a much bigger crack if left unchecked.
This can happen for a couple of key reasons:
1. Road vibrations
2. Temperature Fluctuations
Let's start with road vibrations. The vibration of the windshield while you're driving (especially if the road surface is…less than perfect). Even aside from the small normal vibrations of the engine, driving on roads with rough surfaces or a lot of potholes will only make this problem worse.
The other major factor is the expansion and contraction of the glass that happens with temperature changes. When the windshield is heated, it will expand, and when cooled, it will - you guessed it - contract. This is especially true for those of us that live in cold climates where we’re regularly using the defrost, or climates that have naturally large temperature swings over a short period of time. If you live in a climate where the windshield is going to be subject to frequently changing temperatures, it’s even more important that you repair any chips before it’s too late.
Now you might not drive a Porsche yet (although we can dream), but we’re going to use that as an example. There are four main suppliers of Porsche windshields: Saint Gobain Sekurit, Pilkington, Fuyao Glass, Guardian Industries.
If you take a look at your Porsche windshield, it’s more than likely that it’s one of the above 4 brands, and if you’re looking for the best-of-the-best in terms of quality, one option is to simply try to replace your windshield with the same glass manufacturer that was originally in your vehicle at the time of production.
Note: some other major OEM windshield brands for other vehicle makes include Carlite, Mopar, PPG, and AP Tech.
Over the years we’ve seen a shift across lots of industries towards thinner, lighter, (and often cheaper) materials. The glass industry is no different. While there have been some new options introduced that actually claim to strengthen the glass, as far as what is widely available for windshields, the glass you find in your car these days is thinner and lighter - but not stronger - than it was 30 years ago, likely because we care a lot more about fuel conservation nowadays.
This means that older windshields were actually almost twice as thick as modern glass, which can cause issues if you’re using new glass on an older vehicle since the rubber and moldings were built for a very different glass thickness.
There’s not much you can do about that other than try to avoid replacing your windshield - but in the event that you do get a crack in an older piece of glass, finding a glass specialist with experience working on older vehicles is your best bet.
Honestly, we don’t blame you if even just the title of this section is overwhelming. Navigating the world of glass repair can be confusing and exhausting. Don't worry - we’re here to break it down for you:
OEM, or Original Equipment Manufacturer, refers to any part that is the same quality and construction as your original part. This is going to be the closest to your original windshield, and will have come off the same assembly line so you can be reasonably confident that the glass quality is top notch.
Pros: Exactly the same quality as your original windshield
OEE, or Original Equipment Equivalent is glass that is supposed to be made to exacting standards, and will just be missing the logos and decals you may be used to on your original glass. While this can be the best bang for your buck, according to most expert auto glass specialists, it is not EXACTLY the same standard as OEM glass, and you may notice a slight decrease in quality.
Pros: Will be a perfect fit for your vehicle plus better price than OEM glass.
Cons: The quality is often not exactly the same as the original.
Aftermarket glass is windshield glass that is not produced by the original manufacturer. The world of aftermarket replacement parts is basically the wild west - the tolerances for poor quality are significantly higher, and you may end up with a windshield that is visibly distorted. On top of this, the fancy cameras and sensors behind your windshield these days are specifically made to be calibrated behind OEM quality glass, and choosing poor quality aftermarket glass could mean that you can’t even calibrate the sensors properly.
Pros: Can be significantly lower cost.
Cons: Quality is nowhere near that of your original glass and not guaranteed to be a perfect fit.
We generally would not recommend aftermarket glass - but we’re also pretty picky about clarity over here. If you are going the aftermarket route, please just make sure you do your research and check out some forums to see if you can hear any experiences from other drivers.
Usually if your vehicle is less than a year old, your insurance company will pay for OEM parts. Once you're past the one year mark, you need to have a specific policy rider added, stating that they will replace your windshield with OEM glass in the event of a replacement. This will add some money to your monthly cost, but if this is important to you, it might be worth it.
Well, if you’re currently facing a broken windshield - our condolences. It’s certainly not a fun repair to have to deal with, especially with the price of windshields in the modern era of driver assistance tech. If you’re just looking for a way to avoid this whole thing, check out how to choose a windshield protection option that works for you.
Adding a thin, transparent film to your windshield will give you protection against those nasty chips as well as the pitting and sandblasting that can happen over time. Prevention is ultimately the best solution in this case, and with a premium windshield protection film like ExoShield, it won’t harm your windshield in any way so it can be replaced every couple years as needed.
Learn more about windshield protection for your Porsche here, or check out our list of trusted installers all over the world to talk to an expert!
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