Hearing that loud popping noise coming from your windshield when you’re driving down the highway can be a thoroughly alarming experience. You know that something has just hit the glass, but it’s really hard to tell in that split second how extensive the damage actually is. Once you manage to stop the car and inspect the area though, there are a few indications of what you’re dealing with. These are also tell signs if you need windshield rock chip repair, or a full-scale windshield replacement.
First and foremost, know that the rock chip hasn’t completely penetrated the glass. That’s right, what you’re seeing is mostly air that’s been trapped. But trapped where, and how? Well, your windshield is made out of two layers of glass, which have a sort of plastic in between. When flying debris hits the surface, it punctures the first layer, and air gets trapped between the two layers. So how is that air taken out and the cracked field, and more importantly, what’s a standard windshield repair cost? For the latter, good news! Depending on the company you work with, it can be as low as $0 Out-of-pocket (we’ll get into that as well). For the first part, let’s get into it.
1. Determining The Severity of The Damage
When you have your first look at the damaged area, notice the way the crack formed. There could be a straight line, a star shape, or even a combination of the two. Another aspect is going to be the depth at which the chip has penetrated, or the length of the crack. Broadly speaking, chips that aren’t deeper than ⅛ of an inch, and cracks not wider than 3 inches, are safe to repair.
If you want to have a closer look, go ahead and place a white background behind the glass. That black “void” is nothing else than trapped air, which looks like that because of the way that light now affects it.
2. The First Step of a Professional Windshield Rock Chip Repair
In order to make sure everything’s done safely and efficiently, the first thing that’s needed is to create an access point to that trapped air. The way this is done depends on the case. Sometimes, a pick is sufficient, and we only have to remove remaining broken glass from the crack.
In other cases, especially if the crack is older, we’ll use a specialized drill. This is used just to create complete access and remove grime, dirt, and other unwanted contaminants. Under no circumstance would an expert technician puncture the inner layer of the glass during this procedure.
3. Filling In The Crack
Once everything’s ready for the windshield rock chip repair, a tool called a “bridge” is placed over the impacted area. This tool has a piston which is filled with a type of resin that’s going to basically replace the shattered glass. It does this by filling all the “legs” of the crack, while the bridge is simultaneously drawing the air out from them.
To aid this process, a mirror can be placed on the inside of the car so that the technician has complete visibility of all angles. The windshield itself is also tapped with a pick during this time to help loosen all of that trapped air. Once the resin goes in and everything looks as it should, the bridge is removed, and a finishing touch of resin is added on top of the crack. Once that dries, excess is removed from the crack with a razor, on a 90 degree angle, so that it’s not taken out of the crack itself too.
With some final polishing, the glass looks pristine once again, and your safety is guaranteed.
4. But Why Repair The Crack At All?
You might be tempted to just leave small cracks be. Because they’re not in your field of view, or you don’t have time, or you simply don’t consider them to be worth repairing. That can be a dangerous decision though. Any time of auto glass damage eventually expands due to a process we call “spider-webbing”. Namely, the crack naturally expands until it reaches the corners of your windshield, destroying its structural integrity in the meantime.
At that point, you’ll need a replacement to guarantee your safety down the road, but if you work with the right company, both of these can be done for free! Indeed, a windshield repair cost, as well as a replacement, can cost you as little as $0 out of your pocket. For example, at ProLite, we’re considered a preferred installer by most major insurers, and work with them to repair your glass through “no-fault” claims. If you have any auto glass irregularities, don’t hesitate to call us at (480) 525-6554.