Guide to replacing windshields
Windshield damage can be unsightly. Or worse, block your view when driving. Although it’s possible to repair minor chips, large cracks make your windshield less stable, making it essential to replace your windshield soon.
You can call local auto body shops and ask, “How much to replace a windshield?” But, other options exist and may cost less. Explore your options and prices for a quick windshield replacement.
What is windshield damage?
Windshield damage is one or more knicks, chips, or cracks in the front window of your vehicle. It’s often caused by flying gravel or debris from the road or another car. Or you may be involved in a small fender bender and get a ding on your windshield.
Auto glass technicians classify windshield damage using multiple categories:
- Chips: Also called a ding, stone break, or a pit, chips usually stem from flying rocks. The impact point causes a piece of glass to chip off, leaving a cavity where the glass is missing.
- Edge crack: An edge crack either starts at or touches the edge of a windshield. These tend to be long cracks, classified as over six inches in length.
- Floater crack: A floater crack happens anywhere in the middle of your windshield but at least two inches from the edge. These vary in size and may be long or short cracks.
- Stress crack: A stress crack differs from other cracks because it results from extreme temperature changes. It usually starts near the edge of the windshield.
- Bulls-eye: A bulls-eye may be partial or half-moon. Each designation relates to the physical appearance. A bulls-eye is a circle with a deep chip in the middle. Partial or half-moon damage isn’t symmetrical.
- Stars: If you have a chip in your windshield with many small cracks radiating from it, then it’s called a star break or stars.
- Combination break: Windshields with two or more types of damage or multiple damaged locations are considered a combination break.
What are your options for dealing with windshield damage?
When you first notice a ding or crack, you may wonder, “How much does a new windshield cost?” But, not all chips or cracks need a full windshield replacement. Depending on the size and location, you may be able to repair it yourself or hire a professional to handle it for you.
You typically have four choices after noticing a ding or crack in your windshield:
- Leave it alone until it hinders your line of sight: Small chips, less than an inch, may not be noticeable or affect the integrity of your windshield. But, larger cracks will continue to spread and can cause unsafe driving conditions. In either case, it is recommended you address it early on to prevent the chip or crack from getting worse.
- Attempt a do-it-yourself (DIY) repair at home: Windshield repair kits cost $7 to $20 and can cover up a chip that’s smaller than a quarter. Clear nail polish can prevent a crack that’s less than three inches from spreading.
- Request a repair from a professional: Windshield technicians make sure your windshield is safe and repairable, then they may drill tiny holes into the crack and inject resin to stop them from spreading. Replace your windshield: Large cracks, combination breaks, and edge cracks can make your windshield unsafe. In this case, replacing the windshield is your only option.
When should you replace a cracked windshield?
In general, you should replace a cracked windshield after a collision, or anytime it interferes with your line of sight. However, there are other considerations as well. The damage’s location, size, and amount affect your decision. You may want to replace your windshield if:
- You have three or more cracks on your windshield
- Any single crack is longer than six inches
- The damage is on the driver’s side
- A crack starts at or extends to the edge of your windshield
- The inner layer of your windshield looks yellow
How much does it cost to replace a windshield?
You might pay $250 to $400 to replace a windshield. The amount varies by location, windshield replacement service, and the type of damage. Price differences also occur due to a vehicle’s make, model, or year.
If you drive a collector’s car or luxury model, the cost may be higher. Or your vehicle may be newer with special features, like rain sensors, causing the price to rise. Since a windshield technician must remove and replace the windshield wipers, this also may affect your price.
It’s a good idea to check online and call around to get price estimates from several windshield replacement providers. Many offer a free instant quote online, saving you time when trying to find out how much it costs to replace a windshield.
How much does windshield replacement cost for a luxury car?
Increasingly luxury cars and newer models may have heads-up displays on the windshield, rain-sensing wipers, or driver assistance safety systems. These add quite a bit to the cost of a new windshield. At the high end, a luxury car windshield can cost anywhere from $1,000 to over $4,500 to replace.
How much does it cost to replace a windshield on an older vehicle?
Older models without windshield sensors or special windshield wipers tend to cost an average amount of $250 to $400, whereas a single chip repair may cost $60 to $100.
Who pays to fix or replace a windshield?
If you’re involved in an auto accident, then the responsible party may cover the cost of a new windshield. But, if a rock hit you while driving down the highway, then the payment comes out of your pocket.
Some full coverage auto insurance plans may pay to fix or replace your windshield. Your insurance provider may require you to pay a deductible first, which can be more than the actual replacement cost. If you bought optional products, such as windshield protection, chips, or star breaks may be covered.
Replacing a windshield: Next steps
Budgeting for car maintenance isn’t easy, but your windshield is a crucial safety component in your car. If you notice a chip or crack, consider calling for estimates immediately. You may pay less for minor damage, whereas waiting can increase your bill by hundreds of dollars.