Repair or Replace? Its a question we are asked frequently when people come to us with damage to their windshield and I have to say up front, that it is a conflict of interest to ask a glass shop that question. Why? Because the glass shop makes more money doing the replacement as opposed to the repair. A reputable Auto Glass Shop will give you your options and let you decide for yourself. In some cases there is only one option, replacement, but for other cases you do have options and you should be informed of those as well. So, whats the difference and what factors should go into making this decision? Lets take into consideration some key elements of the windshield damage so that one can have a good understanding of what expectations should be for the repair and form an opinion on what best suits your needs.
Consider the size of the damaged area and if there are any cracks. Opinions vary on the repairable size of windshield damage. At Affinity Auto Glass of the Carolina’s, we prefer not to repair any damage larger than a quarter. That’s not to say that we can not do repairs on larger spots and we won’t get into the “if you can cover it with a dollar bill it can be repaired” argument. What we have found though, is that for consistent best results, this is the rule that we go by.
What kind of damage do you have? There are a few types of breaks that can effect how well the finished product turns out when a windshield is repaired. The most common ones being a “bulls eye” which has a circular appearance with an impact point at the center (the easiest to repair), a “star” which has a center impact point and crack lines radiating out from the center (one of the most difficult to get flawless repairs), and a “combo” which is a combination of the “bulls eye” and “star”. There are a few others, with varying degrees of repair difficulty, but those are the most common.
Where is the damage located? Some states have specific laws in regards to this and the Repair or Replace question. Basically paraphrasing, if the damage is directly in front of the driver in a 2 foot x 2 foot box, then a replacement must, by law, be done. Other states will not allow your vehicle to pass safety inspections if the damage is considered to be in the drivers line of site, which would be considered anything inside a box inside a 1 foot perimeter from the outside edge of the glass. Another consideration with the location of the damage is whether the damage is already a distraction to you while you are driving. Even though you have a quality repair performed on your vehicle and the repair fills in all the void the damage caused, you may still see the actual “impact point” that looks similar to a bug that has hit your windshield and could cause distraction as well. A good way to look at it is that if the damage is a distraction now, it could possibly be after the repair.
How long has it been since the damage occurred? Everyday you wait to have your windshield repaired gives the opportunity for debris and/or chemicals to enter the void in the damaged area of your windshield and effect the quality of the finished repair by blocking the impact point so that repair resin can not be fully injected into the damaged area (leaving unfilled cracks that may or may not run out) or hindering the bond between the repair resin and the glass in the damaged area (causing a milky look around the outside edges of the repaired area). The first time it rains on the damaged windshield while you are driving, contamination of some kind (be it debris, chemical, or moisture) has entered the void in the damaged area of your windshield. Best bet, have windshield repairs taken care of same day if possible to get the best results.
So with all that in mind, Repair or Replace? As a glass shop, we prefer to change the windshield, not because of profit, but because your windshield is like looking through a pair of glasses. You see whats on the other side of the lens but your mind filters out the actual lens and any scratches or finger prints. With your windshield you see the the road and where you are going but not the sand blasting or scratches that are on your windshield. The visibility difference between your old windshield and the new one is such a stark contrast that we have had customers tell us they never knew how bad their old windshield was until they had it replaced. In the end it boils down to your tolerance in regards to personal safety (Who can say if the structural integrity of the windshield has been compromised?), personal opinion (Windshields are made to be looked out, not at.) and what your budget can afford, but as long as you take your vehicle to a glass shop with AGSC/AGRSS certified technicians that will give you your options not just what works out best for them, you should be able to make an informed decision on what will work best for you, your vehicle, and your budget. Check us out and see why Affinity makes a difference, because at Affinity Auto Glass of the Carolina’s we love what we do for YOU.