The windshield of a vehicle is one of the most critical safety features, designed to provide structural support, maintain the integrity of the passenger compartment in the event of an accident, and protect passengers from external elements. So, when a windshield gets a crack, especially a sizable one, such as 12 inches, the question arises: Can it be repaired, or does it need to be replaced?
Understanding Windshield Cracks:
There are different types of windshield cracks and chips, and not all of them are created equal. Some common ones include:
- Bullseye or partial bullseye: Circular, and often caused by a round object.
- Star break: Has short radial cracks coming out of the center.
- Combination break: Contains characteristics of multiple types of breaks.
- Crack chip or ding: Single crack, typically the size of a quarter.
- Long crack: Extends over several inches, usually longer than a dollar bill.
- A 12-inch crack would typically fall into the "long crack" category.
Can a 12-inch Crack be Repaired?
The answer to this question isn’t entirely straightforward and depends on several factors:
Location of the Crack:
If the crack impairs the driver’s line of sight, many professionals will recommend replacing the windshield. It’s because repairs, although effective, can sometimes leave minor distortions in the glass, which can impact visibility.
Depth of the Crack:
Windshields are made of laminated glass—two layers of glass with a plastic layer sandwiched between them. If the crack has penetrated both layers, a repair might not be feasible.
Cracks that reach the edge of the windshield tend to compromise the structural integrity of the glass more significantly than those that are contained within the center. As a result, edge
cracks, especially of this size, often necessitate replacement.
Age and Contamination:
Over time, a crack can accumulate dirt and other contaminants, which can make it harder to achieve a clean and effective repair. Older, dirtier cracks are less likely to be repairable.
The Evolution of Repair Technology:
Windshield repair technology has advanced significantly in recent years. With the advent of better resins and repair techniques, some specialists can repair longer cracks that would have been deemed irreparable a decade ago. However, even with advanced techniques, a 12-inch crack is pushing the limits of what’s typically considered repairable.
Repair vs. Replacement:
There are several advantages to repairing a windshield rather than replacing it:
Cost: Repairing a windshield is often less expensive than replacing it.
Time: Repairs can be completed more quickly than replacements.
Environment: Repairing a windshield is more eco-friendly as it prevents the old windshield from ending up in a landfill.
Repairing a small chip is cheaper than replacing an entire windshield, which might become necessary if damages are ignored. Repairing rather than replacing windshields conserves resources and reduces the volume of discarded windshields, which often end up in landfills. However, safety should always be the primary consideration. If there is any doubt about the safety of a repair, then replacement is the right option.
If you find yourself with a 12-inch crack in your windshield, here are some things that you must immediately do:
Seek Professional Advice:
While you may feel, you can assess it yourself, always consult with a windshield repair specialist to get their recommendation. They can assess the crack and advise you on the best course of action.
The longer you leave a crack, the more chance there is for dirt and debris to enter, making a successful repair less likely. Also, temperature fluctuations and road conditions can cause the crack to spread.
Check Your Insurance:
Many auto insurance policies cover auto glass repairs and replacements. Some even waive deductibles for repairs, given that it’s often cheaper than a full replacement. Though, it may feel daunting, it is actually beneficial for you in the long run.
If advised to replace the windshield, do not delay. A compromised windshield can pose a significant risk in the event of an accident, as it might not provide the necessary structural support. Safety should be paramount in all circumstances.
While advances in technology have made it possible to repair longer cracks than in the past, a 12-inch crack in a windshield is on the cusp of what’s repairable. Many factors come into play, including the location, depth, age, and nature of the crack. However, the primary concern should always be safety.
When in doubt, especially with such a sizable crack, replacement is often the safest and most recommended option.