Getting a chip or crack in your windshield can be incredibly annoying. A lot of the time they are simply unavoidable as you will find yourself driving happily down the road, only for a stone, acorn or something else to come flying out of nowhere and cause a big crack in your glass or a nasty big chip. If your car is otherwise beautifully new, then this can really be a blight on an otherwise pristine exterior that really takes some of the sheen off of your new pride and joy.
More to the point though, chips and cracks in your windshield can also be dangerous. Even a small chip can actually obscure relatively large objects when they're at a distance – and when you consider that you and the other cars on the road are travelling at such high speeds, this can be a serious issue. Chips and cracks can also be distracting, preventing you from keeping your full attentions on the road and they can distort objects making them look nearer or further away.
Finally, cracks in your windshield have a nasty habit of growing. What starts as a small problem can often grow into a much larger one, so it's always worthwhile dealing with it early on, before you have to replace your entire windshield.
Windshield Repair Kits: Do They Work?
If you have a small rock chip or 'bullseye' crack on your windshield that is really just confined to one small area, then you may find that a windshield repair kit can do the job and relatively effectively remove or at least reduce the eyesore they cause. On the other hand though, if you have a large hairline crack or a spider's web – where several cracks are emanating out form a central point – then you might find that these kits are less effective.
So for smaller chips and cracks, how do you use a repair kit?
Using a Windshield Repair Kit
Different repair kits have slightly different instructions and vary slightly. Nevertheless, they will all tend to follow roughly a similar process.
First, place some paper towels under your windshield wipers and then clean the area around the chip with an alcohol pad. Next, use a push pin and dig out any small bits of loose glass. You of course don't want these rattling around in your windshield. Obviously you need to be careful at this point not top hurt your hand. Clean again.
Next, you're going to peel off one side of the backing on your doughnut shaped adhesive and then press it firmly onto the windshield so it will surround the center of the break. Now peel off the other side and press in the part called the 'pedestal' so that it is angled directly upwards.
Snap or cut off the tip of the resin tube and enter roughly three-fourths of that tube inside the pedestal. This can be a little tricky to gauge as you can't always see clearly how much is in the tube. Just use your judgment.
Put the cap back on the resin and put it to one side, the resin should now be filling the broken glass area. Now take the syringe and plunge it into the pedestal, pushing it into place to form an airtight seal and drawing back on the plunger of the syringe in order to draw out any air bubbles. Leave the syring in this position for 10 minutes to maintain the vacuum.
Now remove the syringe, breaking the vacuum and allowing air back inside the pedestal. Reinsert the syringe so it's airtight again and hold it with one hand while pressing down on the plunge with your spare hand. Lock it in the lower setting in order to use the sealed space to force the resin right down into the brake. Leave it in this position for 20 minutes.
Take the syringe out and use a safety razor which should be included in order to cut off the adhesive donut and pedestal. A little resin may flow out but should be absorbed by paper towels under your windshield wipers.
Now it may help to move the car directly into sunlight and add a couple more drops of resin directly into the center of the break. Use the plastic square over the resin to smooth out any last air bubbles. Leave for 15 minutes and the resin should harden.
Now remove the plastic strip, wipe the glass down and you're ready to go!
So that's the process when you use a repair kit. The question is: should you try to follow this process or should you take your car to be repaired professionally?
The answer will depend on several factors.
On the downside, repairing a chip yourself is quite a lengthy and complicated process as we have seen. If you don't get it perfectly right then you might get some air bubbles into the affected area and this can look somewhat unsightly. Even if it goes well, you may find that you can still slightly make out the region that was affected, which you might find unacceptable if you spent a lot on your car and you're very proud of it.
Getting a chip in your windshield professionally repaired will result in a slightly better job as they can use a diamond-tipped drill in order to create a more uniform shape to fill and they will have a better bridge to help suction resin more firmly into the crack.
On the other hand though, this can save you a lot of money. Getting your windshield repaired professionally can range between $200-$500, whereas repair kits come in closer to $10-$20.
If your car windshield has a big enough crack though or the hole goes all the way through the glass, then you might need to get your windshield replaced. This will cost a lot more money if you need to get both layers of your windshield replaced as opposed to just the one.
Bear in mind that a windshield is actually made up of two separate panes of glass that are precisely the same shape and perfectly pressed together. Through the middle runs a thin sheet of laminate plastic that is adhesive on both sides. The two layers of glass help to prevent things from breaking all the way through, while the adhesive plastic helps to hold the glass in place, so if it breaks no large shards will be dislodged and they will instead all hang in place right in your windshield.
If you are getting your windshield replaced, then you can also take this opportunity to add new features. For instance, you might opt to get a slight window tint added which can help to block out sunlight at the top of the window thereby preventing glare from blinding you while you are driving – which of course can be highly dangerous otherwise.
Finally, remember to consider your other windows too. While they aren't quite as pressing, chips in your passenger windows can still be unsightly and they can still lead to visibility problems if they affect your blind spot or otherwise obscure your vision during maneuvers.