Since the first pieces of auto glass rolled off the factory line and were installed into automobiles, the number one goal of their inclusion has been convenience. In the first days of the automobile, auto glass was used mainly as a way to block wind and insulate the cabin from the outside world. Unfortunately, this type of glass was virtually identical to traditional home window glass, making it far less likely to protect drivers in the event of an accident – in some cases, its fracture pattern actually created even more dangerous conditions. As time went on, however, advances in the industry have eliminated virtually all of these concerns.
In today’s automobile market, there are several reasons to take care of your auto glass. Not only does it protect you from the elements, but it also provides protection from dust and debris, boosts fuel economy through aerodynamics and can even save your life in the event of a rollover. When you first spot an area of damage on your auto glass, it is important to act quickly in order to prevent the damage from spreading. Many people are unaware of how the auto glass repair process works or what can be expected (since hopefully, this is a rare occurrence for most people). Below, we’ll discuss some common auto glass repair situations and what you should expect during the repair and once the job is completed.
What Can Be Repaired
Not all forms of auto glass damage can be easily repaired. Most auto glass companies inform their customers upfront that some damage – especially if it is large – may require a complete windshield or auto glass replacement in order to guarantee their safety. An auto glass technician will have to first inspect the damaged area before he or she can render an accurate verdict. More complex forms of damage, even when small, may require a complete replacement. Your auto insurance policy most likely provides some guarantee or payment toward a replacement, though there is usually a deductible involved.
A good rule of thumb for most forms of auto glass repair is that it can be repaired if the damage in question is no wider in any one direction than a dollar bill. The structural integrity of the windshield may not be guaranteed once any crack has spread across a distance longer than this area. Cracks that have spread in multiple directions – even if they are not longer than a dollar bill – may also not be repairable due to the extent of the damage. Common forms of damage caused by pebbles and other smaller pieces of debris can usually be repaired quickly and with little fanfare when caught early. It is always important to call an auto glass technician as soon as possible in order to prevent the damage from spreading.
Treating the Interim Problem
We always advise that you call an auto glass technician as soon as possible in order to avoid a costly replacement. Since most auto insurance policies fully cover windshield repair, the cost to you is almost always $0. If you cannot schedule an auto glass repair job immediately, then how can you make sure that the damage does not spread?
Certain types of plastic film can be purchased at auto stores (and even from some auto glass facilities that keep them on hand) to help stop a crack’s damage in its tracks. While not a permanent solution, these pieces of film can be applied directly to a cleaned piece of windshield in order to temporarily seal the damage and prevent bumps, debris and inclement weather from accelerating the spread of the damage. If you cannot find this film in stores or through an auto glass repair shop, then something as simple as a bandage or even a clear piece of tape can be used temporarily with similar results. This can buy you some time if you are on vacation, out of town or have no time to have the repairs performed same-day, but this patchwork solution will only work for a limited time.
Expected Aesthetic Results
What exactly can you expect in terms of appearance upon the completion of an auto glass repair? It will depend on the type and extent of the damage, but here’s the rundown. Very small chips or cracks may be repairable to the point that the previous damage is no longer visible. In many cases, however, you will still have some visible remnant of where the damage was; this usually looks like a bug smudge or water mark on the windshield and/or auto glass.
An auto glass technician will most likely tell you about this before repairing the damage. Some auto glass companies run marketing gimmicks that claim all damage will disappear. Due to the nature of glass and the way in which it is repaired, this is an unrealistic expectation. The majority of the damage will disappear, but a perfect windshield in terms of aesthetics will not be the case in almost all circumstances.