If your car windshield is cracked or broken, it might be time to replace it. How much does it cost to replace a windshield or should you opt to have it repaired instead?
In this guide, we evaluate the factors that affect the new windshield price. We also look at the different types of windshield damage, the various options available for dealing with the damage and we help you determine if it should be replaced.
How Much Does A Windshield Replacement Cost?
It costs anywhere from $100 to $4,000 or more to get a new windshield installed. However, there are many factors affecting the windshield replacement cost. The price depends on your vehicle type, labor rates, your car insurance deductible, and whether you choose an aftermarket or OEM replacement.
Factors Affecting Cost to Replace a Windshield
1. Vehicle Make/Model
The size of your vehicle and its windshield type can have a profound impact over what you are going to spend. If the windshield is compact, you will usually pay far less than one on a full-size truck. However, there are other aspects that play into this cost.
The auto glass width is also important in figuring the costs. The wider the glass is, the more you can expect to spend. Beyond this, the luxury brands have higher-priced windshields overall.
If your car type has specialized equipment on the windshield, such as integrated safety systems, the windshield is naturally going to cost more. This increased price is due to high-tech systems that need to be calibrated for accuracy.
2. Aftermarket vs. OEM
You can typically spend about $100 less with an aftermarket windshield when compared with OEM. However, these savings might not be worth it to everyone.
The OEM windshield is made to factory specs. For this reason, you might prefer to spend a little bit more for peace of mind. These windshields are made to fit better and they will provide the same visibility you received when the car was brand-new.
3. Labor Rates
The labor rates have a lot to do with what you will spend. While you are paying for the auto glass itself, you must also pay the person installing it. Usually, it’s not wise to install a windshield on your own, especially if you don’t have experience.
If you live in a busy urban area, you can expect a higher labor rate than those in rural areas. You can save a lot of money if you do a little calling around to see what various labor rates are. A short drive could save you a good chunk of change.
4. Car Insurance Policy
If you have windshield or auto glass protection with your car insurance, you can get some or all of the expenses covered. This coverage is optional, so it’s not automatically included with every policy.
Even if you do have auto glass coverage, you will probably have a deductible. This is the amount you spend, while the insurance company will handle the rest. The lower your deductible is, the less you pay at the time of service, but the higher your premiums will be. If the windshield for your vehicle isn’t expensive to replace, you might do better to pay for it out-of-pocket instead of getting coverage.
RELATED: 10 Best Car Insurance Companies
Types of Windshield Damage
Windshield chips are among the top defects that occur to the auto glass. Chips are also called by several other names, such as pits, stone breaks and dings.
The majority of chips occur from a rock or pebble flying into the windshield. Where the object impacts the glass, it chips slightly, leaving a small ding where the glass is missing.
There are many different types of cracks that can occur in the windshield. With an edge crack, you have a line that starts with the windshield edge. These are long cracks, usually measuring more than six inches long.
Floater cracks happen closer to the middle of the windshield, at least two inches from the edge. These cracks can vary in size, making them short or long. In comparison, the stress crack happens because of temperature changes that occur suddenly. These tend to start at the end of the windshield and move inward or vertically.
This circular mark has a deeper chip located in the middle, with other imperfections coming from around it. This mark is usually symmetrical.
However, the bullseye windshield mark can also be a half or partial moon shape. If this is the case, it won’t be as symmetrical.
The star normally starts as a simple chip. Either immediately or over time, this chip starts to spread cracks from it.
This star can also be called a star break. The cracks can continue to grow over time, creating larger marks, especially if the weather changes suddenly.
5. Combination Break
It’s possible for the windshield to break in multiple ways or locations. This level of damage is known as the combination break.
This combination can be any number of issues. The more cracks and damage that occur, the more stability is lost to the structure, creating even more danger.
How to Handle Windshield Damage
1. DIY Repair
If you have some automotive experience, you might choose to repair the windshield yourself for smaller damages. There are plenty of options available, with the internet overflowing with helpful tips to get you started.
The average at-home repair kit only costs $5 to $25, so you don’t have to spend a lot of money to try it. You can also use some clear nail polish to stop a crack from getting larger. Still, you should keep in mind that if you do something to create more damage, it may no longer be repairable, thereby forcing you to get a replacement instead.
2. Fill Crack
If you prefer to go with a professional, you may be able to simply have the cracked filled. As long as the windshield is still providing structural integrity, the team can use a filler to stop the crack from spreading.
The auto glass repair might require drilling small holes into the imperfection, so the resin can be injected. This fix isn’t usually guaranteed, but it tends to do a good job in most circumstances. Additionally, your car insurance company might pay for this service if it’s covered in your policy.
3. Replace Windshield
The worst-case scenario is that the windshield needs to be replaced. Whether you are dealing with a crack on the edge or a combination break, a replacement is the safest option.
A professional will know when the replacement is the best route to take. Thankfully, most replacements don’t take long. They can even be done while you wait.
When Should a Windshield Be Replaced?
The cracked windshield needs to be replaced if it can no longer supply structural integrity for the vehicle. After all, you don’t want to get into an accident and suffer more injuries or damage because the windshield was weak. That’s why most windshields are replaced after collision damage occurs.
It’s also important to have it replaced if your line of sight is affected. Damage on the driver’s side can get in the way of you seeing clearly. The crack size is also taken into account. If a single crack measures more than 3 inches long, it’s best to replace it. It should also be replaced if the crack occurs at the edge of the windshield or if there are multiple imperfections. Finally, if the windshield has turned yellow, you would do better to get a new one installed.
With that said, the sooner you act with any windshield damage, the less you can expect to pay. What could have been a simple repair often turns into a replacement just because people wait to have it looked at.
Can I drive with a cracked windshield?
If you have a crack in your windshield, it’s important to get it fixed as soon as possible. Cracks can weaken the structure of the windshield and make it more susceptible to breaking. If you’re in an accident, a cracked windshield could shatter, which could seriously injure you or your passengers. Driving with a cracked windshield also inhibits your visibility and makes it more difficult to see other cars on the road. This could lead to accidents even if you’re being careful.
How big of a crack in a windshield can be repaired?
If the crack or chip is less than 3 inches in diameter, then it can likely be repaired by a professional. However, if the crack is larger than three inches, then it will likely need to be replaced. Cracks that are larger than three inches are more susceptible to further damage and are more difficult to repair, and a windshield replacement is a much better choice.
How fast do windshield cracks spread?
A crack in the windshield can spread quickly, but it varies depending on the size, climate where you live and where the crack is. For a small, isolated crack, it may not spread at all. There’s really no way to tell exactly how fast it will spread.
Does insurance cover windshield replacement?
If you have comprehensive coverage, your windshield replacement will be covered in most cases. If you only have liability coverage, your windshield replacement will not be covered. However, it depends on the insurance policy. Some auto insurance policies cover windshield replacement, while others do not. It is important to read the terms of your specific policy to see if windshield replacement is covered.