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Fixing Your Windshield: Should You Repair Or Replace It?

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author photo by Doug DeMuro April 2016

So your windshield got hit by a rock and now it's developed a chip or -- even worse -- a crack. Even if it's just a chip now, it could soon spread, eventually spanning the entire length of your windshield. So what do you do? Is it time for a full replacement, or should you consider fixing your windshield?

Fixing Your Windshield: The Basics

In years past, getting a chip in your windshield meant silently hoping that the chip didn't turn into a crack, which would require full windshield replacement -- at a high cost. Often, it was only a matter of time before the chip spread, no matter how careful you were or how much you crossed your fingers that you wouldn't need to replace your windshield.

But that's no longer the case. Modern technology has come a long way and that includes the realm of windshield repair, as most chips can now be filled and repaired to the point where you wouldn't be able to tell that they ever existed in the first place.

Of course, there are limitations. Most windshield repair businesses say that a chip larger than a nickel (or a crack larger than three inches in length) is no longer repairable, and will require the full replacement of the windshield. It's also worth noting that chips in the middle of the windshield are a lot less concerning than chips on the side, which are more likely to spread quickly.

Still, if you spot a chip on your windshield, we suggest bringing your vehicle to a well-reviewed windshield repairer in your area before it turns into a costly crack.

The Costs: Repair and Replacement

Exactly how much will it cost to repair -- or replace -- your windshield? A full windshield replacement can be expensive, with the service costing around $500 for many typical compact and midsize cars, and $1,000 or more for certain luxury models, especially if your vehicle features a heated windshield. As usual, independent shops tend to charge less than dealerships, as dealers use more expensive automaker parts.

By comparison, replacing a windshield chip is very cheap. Most windshield repair firms charge less than $100 per chip, with some charging closer to $50 or $60 -- a huge discount compared to replacing your vehicle's entire windshield.

Better yet, if you have comprehensive insurance, you might be able to get your windshield repaired for free. Many insurance companies would rather repair a chip than pay to replace a windshield -- so they're often willing to waive your deductible and pay for your entire repair if you find a chip in your windshield. If your chip is already too far-gone to repair, your comprehensive insurance policy will cover a new windshield, but you'll have to pay your deductible, which is usually $500 or $1,000.

Our take: If you spot a chip in your windshield, get it fixed before it comes a serious crack, which will be more expensive to you and your insurer.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Fixing Your Windshield: Should You Repair Or Replace It? - Autotrader