Driving a vehicle with a damaged windshield or window isn't a safe choice. Lots of folks wonder, though, what their auto glass repair options may be. Here are four possible options and when they might be appropriate.
Mobile vs. Shop
Mobile auto glass repair is an increasingly common service for many auto shops. Generally, a technician can perform simple repairs in the field, but there are some problems that need to be handled in a shop. Typically, fixes that require some time to cure, such as repairs around the seals, should be handled in a shop. Also, work that requires extensive disassembly, such as removing and replacing shattered door windows, will probably go better in a controlled environment. Conversely, applying a bonding material to a crack is likely to be an easy mobile repair job.
Kinds of Damage
Many of your options are dictated by the sort of damage you're looking at. Cracks and chips are usually candidates for some form of filler. A technician will usually apply a product to the crack or chip and cure it. These fillers are typically adhesive epoxies or acrylics that will not interfere with how light passes through the windshield.
When to Just Replace
Notably, there are types of damage that shouldn't be repaired. Damage that's in the driver's line of sight, the area above the steering wheel, is not appropriate for a technician to repair. Similarly, cracks that reach the edges are bad news, and you should strongly consider an auto glass replacement solution. Heavy accumulations of chips and cracks over time also tend to favor replacement.
Complex damage is a little iffy. Applying filler to two cracks that are merging might be fine as long as the total length is just a couple of inches. However, longer ones, such as ones over a foot, usually need replacement. The same goes for spidering cracks and bulls-eye ones. Generally, if it takes more than a couple of words to describe the problem to a technician, it's not a repair job.
It's fine to leave some types of damage alone. A millimeter-long chip with no real depth, for example, probably isn't a big deal. However, most other types of damage should be treated to at least prevent it from encouraging cracking over time.
Many insurance providers offer windshield replacements with driver's policies. Even if you have to pay out of pocket, the peace of mind is likely to be worth it.