Your windshield is a vital part of your car – not just for visibility, but also for safety and structural integrity. Driving with even minor damage to your windshield is considered dangerous, so it is important to know your options when you notice that minor cheap or major crack. A full replacement can be pretty expensive, but in many cases, it is necessary to ensure that more damage won’t happen in the immediate future. Below, you’ll find some advice on whether you should repair your windshield or replace the entire thing.

When to Repair

In most cases, small chips and cracks don’t warrant full replacement. The general rule of thumb is that any cracks that are smaller than a dollar bill can be repaired pretty easily. These repairs should be relatively cheap as well. However, there are a few more factors to consider when making the decision to repair or replace.

•Size
As previously mentioned, the size of the crack or chip matters. If the damage is in the form of a crack, 3 inches is about the maximum length before considering replacement. In the case of a chip, which will be more circular in shape, anything larger than a quarter should be replaced.

In addition to the length of the chip or crack, mechanics will also look at the depth of the damage to determine if it can be repaired. If the crack only goes through the first layer of glass and doesn’t reach the inner layer, then it should be able to be repaired.

• Location
The location of the crack also makes a big difference in whether or not it can be repaired. As long as the damage is outside of the driver’s field of vision and doesn’t extend to the edge of the windshield, repair should be a viable option (assuming it also fits within the aforementioned size parameters).

So, if you have a relatively small, minor crack or chip that doesn’t pierce the plastic interlayer between the two glass layers of the windshield, it is highly likely that you will be able to save some money by having a simple repair performed. Just make sure that the damage is not in the driver’s line of site, as repairs often cause some minor distortion which can be distracting to whoever is operating the vehicle.

When to Replace

In the event that any of the above criteria are not met, you are probably better off replacing your entire windshield. It may be cumbersome and expensive, but it is far more important for your safety than saving a little bit of money (especially if insurance will cover your costs).

Any crack that exceeds 3 inches or penetrates the second layer will require the windshield to be replaced. This is because the structural integrity of the piece is now compromised, and a simple repair cannot undo that damage.

Even smaller chips and cracks that extend to the edge of the windshield may warrant replacement. The edges are sensitive areas, and even minor damage can lead to much larger headaches as you continue to drive. The windshield edge serves as a sort of foundation for the entire windshield, so you are better off replacing it rather than waiting for the already weakened windshield to continue to crack.

Anything that obstructs the driver’s view is also grounds for replacement. Repairing the glass tends to distort the windshield to an extent that it is no longer safe to use as a primary focal point. For most cars, this means any crack that can be reached by the driver-side wiper may warrant replacement.

Don’t Risk It – Trust Your Glass Repair Professionals

As much as you may want to avoid the nuisance of taking your car in for repair or replacement, it is essential for your safety that you get a proper assessment from professionals and allow them to perform the work required. Sure, you can drive with minor damage to your windshield for some time, but there’s no way of knowing if and when that may end up in catastrophe, especially considering how difficult it is to determine just how deep the crack may go. If you have any doubt about whether you should repair or replace your glass, see a professional today.