Windshield Chip Repair Cost & Time
Small chips in the windshield can often be easily repaired and the cost of $75 is significantly less than a windshield replacement deductible. The repair can be done in 30 minutes on a drop-in basis. ICBC does cover this cost, and some of the private companies also do.
The purpose of the repair is to keep the small cracks from spreading. The chip will be less visible after the repair is done, but it will not disappear.
Windshield Chip Repair Explained
A car windshield is made of two layers of non-tempered glass with a strong layer of plastic between the two layers of glass. This glass is very similar to residential window glass and would break in the same way with large shards and long cracks if the plastic layer were not there. The plastic layer is the safety feature of the windshield; it will reduce the extent of the cracking and more importantly will hold the glass to keep the very sharp edges away from the vehicle occupants.
This combination of non-tempered glass and the strong plastic will often keep a single small sharp hit from forming more a small chip and these small chips in the windshield can often be repaired.
If the fine cracks from the chip extend more than 1.5 cm (about ½ inch) the chip can usually not be repaired. If the chip is in the approximately 30cm by 40 cm area directly in front of the driver it cannot be repaired by regulation. This is because the repaired chip will still be visible and distracting, particularly with flashes of light from headlights or sun hitting the still visible cracks.
The purpose of the repair is to prevent the fine cracks starting at the chip from spreading. While the damage is less apparent after the repair it is not an invisible repair, despite what may be claimed by some advertisers.
The obvious advantage of a repair over replacement of the windshield is cost, with the repair at $47.50 and windshields starting at $500 and easily getting to over $1,000. Insurance deductibles will be $100 to $300, or more.
A second important reason to consider a repair over replacement is the overall structural integrity of the car. We, and many other well equipped and staffed glass shops, are fully confident in our ability to replace a windshield properly and are ready to stand behind that repair for the life of the car.
That being said, the original windshield was installed in an ideal environment at exactly the right phase of the car build. When it is broken behind repair, it can be replaced safely, but there is value in leaving it in place until that replacement is truly needed.
A windshield chip, repaired or not, is not a safety issue if it is not causing a driver distraction. It will only be in the outer layer glass and the overall strength of the windshield is not compromised.