A basic design characteristic of a car is the fact that they use a lot of glass. After all, you’ve got a windscreen that covers the width of the car, surrounded by windows on all three sides too. That naturally leaves them quite vulnerable to the risk of getting damaged. And damage to the glass of your car can be a car maintenance and a car repair nightmare if you don’t fix it quickly.
So, with that in mind, I’ve made this guide to everything you need to know about car glass repair.
Should I repair or replace the glass in my car?
Glass in your car is obviously quite expensive to replace. Windscreens don’t exactly come cheap after all!
The type of glass used in cars is laminated glass – that’s two pieces of glass that are bonded together with a piece of vinyl in the middle. It’s surprisingly robust but it can be relatively easily chipped, if you’re not careful. Chips only get bigger. Over time, they’ll lead to cracks, and the cracks lead to terminal glass damage that will cause it to collapse.
Types of windscreen damage
You can often work out how liable the glass in your car is to completely cave in based on the look and overall structure of the damage.
Here are the most common types of glass damage and what they look like:
A bullseye break is one where there’s a central circle of damage to the glass along with a wider circle of damage outside this too. It looks like a circle within a circle – a bit like a bullseye on a dartboard.
This is a type of chip that looks similar in appearance to the shape of the letter X. It can also look similar to a star (hence the name).
Put simply, a combination break is one that has several features. It could be a mixture of a straight line break and a bullseye, or it could combine a bullseye and a starbreak. Combination breaks often indicate more serious damage to your windscreen.
This is probably the most serious type of glass damage. With a central impact area, straight line breaks radiating from the middle and hundreds of miniature breaks in between, it looks slightly like the head of a dandelion (that’s why it’s called a flowerbreak). It’s likely to shatter at any time if left untreated.
Fixing your own windscreen
You can fix – or at least stabilise – small chips and cracks in your windscreen by using a DIY resin repair kit. It normally takes around an hour to seal any chips or cracks in your windscreen using this method, which isn’t too bad to be honest. In the kit, you’ll get a tube of sealant and probably some plastic gloves.
A word of caution though. These kits aren’t really designed to fix big cracks – those that are approaching the MOT limit of 5mm wide and high. For larger chips, you’ll need to enlist the help of your local, friendly mechanic and, even then, there’s no guarantee that they’ll be able to fix it without completely replacing your windscreen.
It goes without saying that if you have a crack or a chip over this limit you’ll have to replace your entire windscreen.
How much does it cost to repair your car windscreen?
Some forms of insurance policies, like comprehensive coverage, can actually cover the cost of repairing cracks or chip in your windscreen which is pretty useful. (Who knew an insurance company could actually be helpful? In this situation, the repair of the glass will effectively be free!
That means you should probably check the small print of your policy before you start messing around the damage, to see if your insurance covers the cost of it. Sometimes it will. Sometimes it won’t.
A complete windscreen replacement from one of the big, nationwide companies will probably cost you around £200- £260, if you aren’t covered. A basic chip repair will cost you around £50. That might seem quite steep, but bear in mind the fact that an untreated chip will end up eventually causing your windscreen to collapse anyway, over time, so it’s money well spent in the long term.