Few things are worse than having to peer through a chipped windshield. “I just had to go out for a drive, didn’t I?”, you ask yourself angrily. It was a sunny Sunday morning, and you’re thinking of having a nice scenic drive through the countryside. Suddenly, a loud ‘whack!’ hits the massive pane of glass keeping you shielded in your car. Now, you have to wonder to yourself about how much it is going to cost for a windshield chip repair.
Some car problems are more annoying then others. Sure, your engine’s loud tapping or knocking noise might indicate a big failure was bound to happen. But psychologically, having to see the problem can sometimes be worse than hearing it. Windshield damage is common enough of an issue. No doubt then, almost everyone that spends any time behind the wheel at all will at some point have experienced needing a windshield chip repair.
But don’t despair just yet, as you need not necessitate a complete replacement of that expensive slab of glass. In fact, windshield chip repairs can be done just as cheaply as lunch at McDonald’s. It can be fixed within the comfort of your own home, and without needing much time at all. In our windshield chip repair guide today, we’ll be taking a look how easily you can have that nasty ‘bullet-hole’ filled in.
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- Should you keep on driving?
- Repair or replace?
- What are windshield chip repair kits?
- Methods for fixing
What Is Causing You To Need A Windshield Chip Repair?
First and foremost, we should take a bit of time to know just exactly what happened. “What’s causing this nasty little chip in my windshield”, you wonder. The easiest answer is almost always debris. This is courtesy of that loud and sharp ‘whack!’ sound you hear just before a chip appears. However, as we’ll learn more in our windshield chip repair guide, there could be other causes as well.
Here are some of the key factors that cause windshield chipping, as well as other damage such as larger cracks:
1. Driving Into Stones And Debris
This is naturally the easiest and most common cause that results in needing windshield chip repairs. Most often, this is down to simple bad luck, and is very hard to avoid. Sharp projectiles like these can easily cause windshield damage when driven into at speed. This includes stones, gravel, pebbles, or other forms of debris like littering from the car in front. Although most windshields today are more robust, it can still chip from debris.
2. Hail Storms, And Bad Weather
As a part of the car that is exposed to the outside world, the weather naturally has an impact on your windshield’s structural integrity. Continuing on with debris, hail storms can very easily cause significant chips and cracks on your windshield. The worst types of hail storms, combined with frigid temperatures, could even smash through your windshield altogether. So, be sure to pay close attention to your local weather forecasts.
3. Extreme Heat, Or Extreme Cold
Another continuation of the climate, extreme heat or cold could also cause windshield damage. Just imagine how metal can contract and expand with changing temperatures. Glass’ anatomy also shares similar characteristics. Exposing your windshield to extreme swings in temperature can cause the glass to expand and contract in a short period of time. This will eventually lead to damage, such as cracking or the glass itself distorting.
4. Collision, Or Weakening Structural Integrity
A car’s windshield is among the most fragile components, and needs to be cared for properly. Equally, it also needs to be installed properly while at the factory. Poor fitting, such as using subpar adhesives, can cause damage over time. Moreover, the windshield can also be damaged from impact. Even a small side impact, for example, could warp the car enough so that the pillars can bend and crack the windshield.
Should You Keep Driving Without A Windshield Chip Repair?
We now understand some of the causes that might necessitate a windshield chip repair. And as we’ve learned thus far, it goes far beyond that just a sudden impact against debris at speed. You might be looking through your windshield and wonder, “Well, that’s not really a big chip.” So, you might be tempted to just keep driving, and ignore it for now. Maybe you’ll just wait until it gets a bit more serious before having it fixed.
Or, you may not have the time to have the car sent to a workshop right now. So, could you really keep on driving without having that windshield chip repair? Our answer – No. Leaving that chip unfixed for an extended period of time, no matter how tiny it may be, is not a good idea. For one thing, it is a hazard and a distraction to your vision while driving along. This is since even the tiniest of chips can still impair visibility and driver attention.
Moreover, leaving the chip untouched might cause it to get worse over time. The windshield’s structural integrity is now compromised. This means that a second impact with a small pebble can cause another, potentially bigger chip or crack. The glass layers itself are also now exposed. This means that water, dirt, mud, and other particulates can enter into the windshield. This will further impair your vision, as it dirties or fogs up your glass from the inside.
Do You Need A Simple Windshield Chip Repair, Or A Full Replacement?
We can conclude from our previous section with; don’t try to drive your car while having even a small chip in your windshield. It is a distraction, a hazard, and an even bigger headache down the line. So, be sure to have it checked out as soon as you can. Try to store your car indoors, or have the windshield covered up. If you can’t do that, then use some clear tape to carefully and gently cover over the chip itself.
After that, you can take a breather to ponder over whether you’ll be needing a complete replacement, or just a simple windshield chip repair. This is depending on the severity and type of damage suffered. Today’s guide will cover windscreen chips, which are easily fixable. Chips are categorised as impacts or craters on your windshield. This can be seen with a flower-, or star-like pattern, or a “bullet-hole” appearance on your windshield.
This can be mended by filling in the chips, using specialised windshield chip repair kits. Good ones can be found for as little as $10, sometimes even less. It’s worth pointing out that you should only use proper windshield chip repair kits. Following an impact on your windshield, we very much don’t recommend using any old glue or adhesive to fill in the gaps. Off the shelf superglue that you’ll find in a bookstore will not be able to fix the problems properly.
What If You Need To Replace Your Windshield Entirely?
However, there are some types of damage on your windshield that cannot be fixed, and requires a full replacement. Even a speciality workshop with professional tools and equipment cannot fix every form of windshield damage. This includes long cracks, lines, or deep chips on your windshield. Depending on the model of your car, you’ll be looking at a windshield replacement cost anywhere between $250 and $1,000 on average (unless you know how to get your windshield replaced for free).
But before you go ahead and hand your keys over to a workshop, do check and see if there are other means of bearing the cost. Check your car’s insurance coverage to see if windshield damage is covered. Alternatively, your car manufacturer’s warranty could also help to cover for some damage. If neither one covers for it, then call up nearby workshops and dealerships to quote for a cost, and find the best ones for a full windshield replacement.
What Are Windshield Chip Repair Kits, And Why Should You Need One?
So, we now know that windshield chip repairs are possible, and they don’t cost much to do. We would recommend that you consider calling up a workshop or dealership to make sure. This is so you can know if the precise damage on your car can be fixed, or if it needs replacing entirely. So, what exactly are windshield chip repair kits, and what does it do? Besides, it does sound like some sort of magical stuff.
Windshield chip repair kits are often a type of clear resin, that can fill in the gaps or cracks caused by chipping. This resin is usually of high viscosity, meaning that they can be applied easier. Also, specialised resins should also be able to prevent shrinkage or distortions in its volume. This ensures a firm and tight bond with the windshield. There are some added benefits of using windshield chip repair tools, as well:
1. Reduced repair costs
The most obvious benefit is cost. As mentioned earlier, windshield chip repair kits can be found for around, or less than $10 on average. And these are the good sort of kits, too. Compare this with a professional repair job done at a workshop or specialist, which could cost $100 or more. This is far more obvious seeing that a windshield replacement can easily cost hundreds, or more than $1,000.
2. Easy to do, and time efficient
Another benefit of most windshield chip repair kits is the ease of use. They have been made to be fairly easy to apply to your chipped windshield. It takes little to no effort, and even an amateur can do it. Moreover, you can have it done from the comfort of your own home, and without needing much time at all. For most people, they can have the whole repair process done in around 2 hours.
3. Improved integrity of your car’s windshield
As we’ve learned earlier, even a small chip can cause your windshield’s structural integrity to weaken. This is an extreme hazard, as it offers less protection in the event of a crash, or striking more debris. We’ve recommended that you have chips repaired as quickly as possible. As such, a do-it-yourself (DIY) windshield chip repair kit can ensure that you’ll have that indent patched up in no time. Filling in the chips can at least maintain your windshield’s optimal integrity.
How Can You Solve A Windshield Chip Repair At Home?
So, by now we’ve learned that windshield chips can be fixed, and won’t require a full replacement. Minor or moderate chipping can easily be filled in using special windshield chip repair kits. “But are they really that easy to do?”, you will wonder, looking at that ghastly indent on your windshield. Indeed, most of the repair kits are fairly easy to use, and makes the fixing process more convenient than it seems.
Even for most non-technical folk, this can be done right at home, and won’t require much time at all. It’s worth noting that each repair kit will have differing ways on using them. But in general, the overall process is rather similar. Next, we’ll be showing you a general step-by-step guide, on how to use a windshield chip repair kit.
Step 1: Clean the chip, and the surrounding area
Before we can fill in the chip with the windshield chip repair kit, you’ll be needing to clean it first. A clean surface to work with will enable the epoxy resin to bond with the windshield as best as it can. Be sure not to use water, or a typical window cleaner solution. The best way to clean out the chip is by using rubbing alcohol. Then, use a microfibre cloth to wipe the chip and surrounding area clean, adding more alcohol as is needed.
There’s also the question of the tiny shards of glass that might remain, caused by the chip. Find a small thumbtack, pin, toothpick, or anything else that has a small pointy surface. Then, use that to gently and carefully remove any shards of glass from the chip. Once that’s done, pour more rubbing alcohol into the chip, and rub it gently with the microfibre cloth. You may also use a hair dryer to remove any moisture left behind within the chip.
Step 2: Create an air-tight vacuum on the chip
Now, you’ll need to put the repair kit in place on the windshield. Although there a wide variety of different windshield chip repair kits on the market, they generally work the same way. Usually, these kits have a large cylindrical tube, or a syringe-type device for applying the resin. This is then attached to the windshield securely via the use of one, though usually multiple suction cups.
You will then need to place the syringe, ensuring that the tip is in line with the centre of the chip. You can use a mirror to make this easier. Place a mirror on your dashboard, so that you can guide its placement from the outside. The tip of the syringe will then seal against the chip. This will create an air-tight vacuum for the resin to flow through. This is important, as any air bubbles will affect the curing of the epoxy resin.
Step 3: Fill in the “syringe” with the resin
Now, you can go ahead, and fill the syringe with the epoxy resin. Some resin might require mixing, although most will have already been pre-mixed. Fill the resin from its container into the syringe from the top. The amount will vary depending on which tool you’re using, though most will recommend filling it all up. Then, attach or screw in the plunger to the top of the syringe.
Step 4: Fill in the chip with the epoxy resin
Before we start with the next part, be sure that your windshield is covered from any UV-, or sunlight. UV-light sources will cure the resin, and you may want this for later. But for now, we’ll do this under the cover of shade. Or else, direct sunlight will force the resin to cure and bond prematurely. Once that is settled, place on hand to hold onto the syringe, and the other hand on the plunger.
Then, pull up on the plunger slowly all the way to the top. This will also have the effect of removing any remaining air pockets left in the chip or crack. Now, gently push down on the plunger, while keeping a steady grip over the syringe to ensure that it stays in place. This will push the clear epoxy resin to fill in all the gaps, and cracks left behind in the chip. Continue to push down on the syringe, until it bottoms out.
Step 5: Wait for air bubbles to leave
Now, you have to make sure that only the epoxy resin remains, and no air bubbles. The resin is clear and transparent, which should make seeing the bubbles easier. You can also go inside the car, and see from within if there are any air bubbles left. You should be able to see the bubbles leave as the resin is injected into the chip. Ordinarily, most windshield chip repair kits require you to wait for 5-10 minutes, before continuing.
If the air bubbles still remain, you can choose to detach the syringe, and gently place it back as before. You may have to do this more than once within the process, in order to remove any remaining air pockets within the chip or crack. Continue to push down on the syringe’s plunger, carefully making sure you don’t overapply the resin. You could also knock on the windshield with your knuckles, to help the air bubbles along.
Step 6: Fill in the “pit” of the chip
We’re almost done with our repair now. So far, the syringe and the epoxy resin has been able to fill in all the cracks within the chip. However, the actual ‘pit’, or the crater of the chip is still there. This is referencing to the large chunk of glass that’s missing following the impact. Now, you can carefully remove the syringe and the suction cups. Next up, take the bottle of epoxy resin, and apply one or two drops onto the pit of the chip.
The amount will depend on how big or small the chip may be. Once you’ve dripped your resin onto the pit of the chip, and it appears to be ‘filled’, find your curing strip. Most windshield chip repair kits should have a curing strip, which looks like a piece of clear tape. Apply this at an angle onto the chip, ensuring that no air bubbles remain. Then, hold the sides of the curing strip, as you take a razor blade to gently remove any further air bubbles.
Step 7: Remove excess resin, and leave to cure
Using the razor blade will also help to smoothen the epoxy resin, and rub off any excess resin away from the chip. Do so until you’re confident the surface of the windshield feels smooth. As mentioned earlier, some windshield chip repair kits require their resin to cure properly under UV-light. So, you can now drive your car out and into the sunlight, and let the resin cure. Or, you can use a UV-lamp to make this easier.
Step 8: Remove the curing strip
The final step in our windshield chip repair process would be to take off the curing strip. Do this only after you’ve ensured that no air bubbles remain. Also, make sure that you’ve allowed the resin itself to cure, following the time requirements set out by your repair kit. Don’t try to peel off the curing strip with your fingers. Instead, gently apply the razor to slowly remove the bond between the strip and the resin. This is to ensure that you don’t remove any of the resin.
Step 9: Success!
This step is optional, but we recommend giving yourself a pat on the back for a job well done! Once again, different windshield chip repair tools will have unique variables. This could be differing setups in the syringe, or needing shorter or longer waiting periods for the resin to cure. Remember to follow the instructions for your specific repair tool. If you’ve done all this right, you might never have noticed that there was a chip in your windshield at all.
How Can You Prevent Needing A Windshield Chip Repair?
Hopefully, our step-by-step guide above will have helped to give you a better idea on the process of having a chipped windshield fixed. We can see that the repair process is simple, easy to follow, cost effective, and requires only a brief expense of time. However, no doubt it would’ve been better to have avoided this in the first place. That said, you might be curious to know if you’re able to prevent this from happening again.
Most of a car’s niggles and problems can be easily avoided with good maintenance. Being attentive to your car’s every needs is crucial in keeping it in tip top shape. This helps to prevent serious problems down the line, such as engine or gearbox issues. Problems like lifter ticking or transmission slipping are easily preventable by regular maintenance and servicing. However, getting a chip on your windshield is a different story.
Unlike mechanical or electrical faults, windshield chips or cracks can be harder to prevent. It’s mostly a factor of being at the wrong place, at the wrong time. These are, after all, usually accidents or happenstance that a stone bounced off and hit your windshield. However, there are some preventive measures that might bring the odds in your favour. Although impossible to predict, here are some ways on how to prevent ever needing a windshield chip repair:
1. Keeping a safe distance from other vehicles
As we’ve learned much earlier, windshield chipping is most often caused by debris. How that debris got there in the first place, and hit your windshield is an even better question to consider. As you’re driving along, there will surely be some stones, pebbles, or other small debris that bounce off your tyres. This can then land and hit the car behind you, if they’re too close. This is especially so if you’re driving on roads that are not covered in tarmac.
Dirt, or gravel roads can have loads of debris thrown up by the car in front. Alternatively, the vehicle in front of you might be a truck, for example. Maybe, it’s just leaving a quarry, filled with gravel, stones, or any other loose material in the back. In any case, most of the debris that strikes your windshield are those that bounce off the road, from the car in front. Keeping a safe distance between it and yourself is always recommended.
2. Keep your car protected from the weather
We’ve also understood from much earlier, that extreme changes in climate or temperature can also cause all sorts of windshield damage. Too much heat or cold can expand or contract the glass too much, causing problems such as cracking. So, if the weather looks rather unfavourable, do consider parking your car indoors. If that’s not an option, then consider a full car cover, or one for just the windshield.
So, don’t park your car constantly under the hot sun. During wintertime, be sure to avoid the habit of defrosting your car’s windshield with hot or boiling water. Understandably, it can be common for your windshield to freeze up under the cold. But once again, avoid extreme changes in temperature, and trying to melt the frost on your glass with hot water is not helpful. It would be better then, to just let it defrost naturally.
Windshield Repair Facts:
- Chips and cracks on windshields can be repaired, and some can be done at home using a repair kit.
- DIY windshield repair requires the purchase of a windshield repair kit that contains epoxy resin.
- Chips that are smaller than a quarter in size can be fixed using a DIY kit, while chips larger than a quarter and cracks longer than three inches require professional glass service.
- Proper adhesion during repair requires cleaning the outside of the windshield where the repair will take place, without spraying glass cleaner directly onto the crack or chip.
- Epoxy resin in the repair kit may require UV light to cure, so windshield repair should be done on a warm, sunny day.
- Windshield repair involves 10 steps, including applying an adhesive patch and plastic pedestal, injecting the epoxy resin with a syringe, and allowing it to cure.
- Syringe plunger drawing creates a vacuum that draws air bubbles out of the resin and away from the chip or crack.
- Knocking on the window frees trapped air bubbles, and applying a drop or two of resin on top of the chip/crack and using a curing strip allows for the epoxy resin to cure.
- A sharp razor blade is used to scrape off the curing strip and remove any leftover resin.
- Windshield repair kits have a shelf life, and the expiration date should be checked before purchase, or an employee should be consulted to ensure it has not been on the shelf for more than six months.
Windshield Chip Repair – Conclusion
And that, ladies and gentlemen, concludes our windshield chip repair guide. We hope you’ve found our summary here helpful, in understanding how to fix that bothersome little chip on your windshield. In essence, windshield chipping is always an annoying problem, and one that can’t always be prevented. However, when it does happen, it can end up being a fairly simple problem to fix. No need for a full glass replacement, or a visit to the workshop.
Windshield chip repair kits allow you to fix them cheaply, and conveniently from home. Furthermore, you won’t need much more than an afternoon to fix it. It helps to encourage car owners to repair every problem as soon as they can. We’ve mentioned earlier how hazardous it can be to drive around with that crack staring back at you. So, if you have that chip making an unwelcoming visit on your car, have it filled in, and your windshield will be as good as new!