Car Windshield Repair: The Drive's Garage Guide
Broken glass, too, will pass.
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Car windows and windshields serve dual purposes; creating a clear view out of the vehicle, and protecting their occupants from road debris peppered faces. I mean, the name is literally wind shield. It couldn’t be more self-explanatory. Yet, that means your windows and windshields occasionally show battle scars.
Through normal operation, your car’s glass surrounds absorb impacts from a variety of attackers, most commonly rocks, but also road debris and pieces of other cars. And when impacts occur, they tend to present themselves in the forms of chips, cracks, bullseyes, and spidering. Luckily, you can repair them.
DIY auto windshield repair should only be done if the damage is minor, and your insurance doesn’t cover the repair. Otherwise, it’s best to leave to the professionals. For those who can’t, The Drive’s crack informational team is here to tell you when to repair, what you’ll need to do the repair, and how to repair it.
Car Windshield Repair Basics
Estimated Time Needed: About an hour
Skill Level: Beginner
Vehicle System: Windshield
It might not appear this way, but windshields are constructed of three layers. Two pieces of curved glass sandwich a layer of plastic vinyl for protective and structural reasons.
This construction method aims to prevent the window from shattering and/or creating large pieces of sharp glass from entering the passenger compartment in the case of an accident. Many rock chips only damage the first layer of glass, which makes it possible to repair the windshield rather than replace it.
When To Replace a Windshield
Not all windshield damage can be repaired. If the crack is too long, the chip has spidered too much, or the damage is impairing the ability to drive, it likely needs to be replaced. Use common sense.
Car Windshield Repair Safety
Working on your car can be dangerous and messy. Use these items to ensure your safety and prevent any accidents.
Everything You’ll Need To Repair Your Car Windshield
We’re not psychic, nor are we snooping through your toolbox or garage, so here’s exactly what you’ll need to get the job done.
- Sharp poker (A needle, small nail, or thumbtack will do)
- Dremel tool or electric drill
- Paper towels
Parts and Products List
Organizing your tools and gear so everything is easily reachable will save precious minutes waiting for your handy-dandy child or four-legged helper to bring you the sandpaper or blowtorch. (You won't need a blowtorch for this job. Please don’t have your kid hand you a blowtorch—Ed.)
You’ll also need a flat workspace, such as a garage floor, driveway, or street parking that’s also well-ventilated. Check your local laws to make sure you’re not violating any codes when using the street, because we aren’t getting your ride out of the clink.
Here’s How To Repair Your Windshield
When a rock hits a windshield, it creates a small pocket of air. Fixing that chip essentially means removing air from the chip and replacing it with a resin filler.
There are a variety of different types of windshield repair kits that use different tools or application designs. However, the process is generally the same. The Drive’s informational team recommends always reading the instructions of the kit you purchase and following them exactly. What we demonstrate below is an overall outline of the process.
Let’s get it!
- Spray window cleaner on a microfiber towel and clean the window. Do not spray cleaner directly on the crack or chip.
- Use a poker to pick out any loose glass. A spray of compressed air can further disperse shards of pulverized glass.
- In some instances, seen in the video below, it is recommended to use a Dremel tool or small drill bit to access the air bubble, but this is not always necessary. If you choose to proceed with this step, absolutely do not drill into the vinyl layer that is embedded within the windshield.
- Arrange and set the bridge, suction cups, stickers, or provided device.
- Arrange the resin injector above the chip and press onto the desired section of glass.
- Drop in the resin.
- Create a vacuum and draw the air out of the chipped glass. If instructed, allow time for this process to take place.
- Using sunlight or a UV light, cure the resin.
- Once the crack is filled, there will likely be a small divot remaining. Roll the extra resin or provided “pit filler” resin into the divot.
- Place a small piece of plastic on top of the resin and make sure there are no air bubbles.
- Remove the plastic by pressing horizontally on the corner of the plastic to prevent pulling the resin out.
- Use a razor blade to carefully scrape away excess resin.
- Pit polish can be used to further improve the cosmetic look of the repair.
Voila! Your window has been restored to a clean and safe state.
Get Help With Car Window Repair From Mechanic On JustAnswer
The Drive recognizes that while our How-To guides are detailed and easily followed, a rusty bolt, an engine component not in the correct position, or oil leaking everywhere can derail a project. That’s why we’ve partnered with JustAnswer, which connects you to certified mechanics around the globe, to get you through even the toughest jobs.
So if you have a question or are stuck, click here and talk to a mechanic near you.
Pro Tips to Repair Your Car Windshield
Over the years, The Drive’s editors have seen virtually every type of windshield damage there is. Through these experiences, we’ve learned helpful tips that we’d like to share with you below.
- Fix windshield damage as quickly as possible. Environmental factors such as temperature or weather, as well as the impacts of daily driving, could quickly turn a small chip into a full-blown cracked windshield. Fixing will always be cheaper than replacing.
- If the ambient temperature is hot, it’s best to use a resin with a thicker viscosity. If it’s colder, use a thinner resin.
- Be gentle and go slow. This is a delicate process, so it’s best to take your time and avoid hasty actions that could lead to inadequate repairs.
How Much Does It Cost To Repair a Car Windshield?
On average, the simplest consumer windshield chip repair kits cost roughly $10-20. More serious heavy-duty kits can cost up to $200, but at that point, it’s likely easier to have it done by a professional.