A cracked windshield can come out of nowhere, and it’s a troublesome yet common issue for many drivers. Having a crack in your windshield might mean having to leave your car in the shop for a whole day or dealing with a leaky windshield.
Even if the crack isn’t in your direct line of sight as a driver, it can still lead to a larger problem. Water can find its way into the chip, and eventually that moisture can even delaminate the glass of your windshield.
It makes sense to try and fix the problem as soon as possible. But considering the inconvenience – not to mention the expenses that will come with a trip to the glass and repair shop – you might want to consider an easy fix to a cracked windshield, before going to the auto body repair shop.
Fixing a Cracked Windshield
If you are lucky, there might be an easy fix to your cracked windshield; however, you need to do this easy fix as soon as possible.
The basic principle behind most of the DIY windshield fix techniques is to squeeze resin or adhesive into the crack, basically sealing it off. The exact specifics differ depending on what repair kit you have with you.
Here are the steps to fixing a cracked windshield:
Inspect the damage.
Take a very close look at the crack. The first thing to do is ask if it can be repaired. It can be repaired if the shape of the crack meets the following criteria:
- Crater (maximum diameter: 5mm)
- Horseshoe (maximum diameter: 25mm)
- Star (maximum diameter: 30mm)
- Bullseye (maximum diameter: 20mm)
- Crack (maximum diameter: 100mm)
Get a windshield crack repair kit.
After determining if an easy fix is possible, you can pass by most big one-stop shops or traditional auto parts stores to get a crack repair kit.
Dry and clean the windshield surface.
Before following the instructions in the repair kit, it’s best to dry and clean the windshield surface, to ensure that no debris will be included when you seal the crack.
You can use a hair dryer to dry the surface. Wipe away any dirt.
Apply the adhesive patch.
Different repair kits require different specific steps. If you have a repair kit with an adhesive patch, for example, simply peel off the backing film on one side of the precut adhesive strip and apply it to the glass of the windshield (make sure that it is centered over the chip).
Make sure it is polished over the surface with the back of your thumbnail or a blunt object. Peel the remaining film.
After that, place the plastic adapter such that the fitting is as close to vertical as possible and stick it to the film. Burnish the surface again.
Get the syringe and pull its cap off. Attach it to the adapter, and with your other hand pull the handle of the syringe as far out as possible. Time it for a full minute.
This pulls a partial vacuum in the syringe and in the crack. To know that it’s working, you should notice air in the crack bubbling up through the adhesive in the syringe; the adhesive will creep down towards the glass and chip
Let go of the handle abruptly. The pressure will force more adhesive into the crack.
Just repeat this process several times until the crack is virtually full of adhesive. There will be some residual film of adhesive on the glass. You can shave the protruding adhesive off.
Going to the Shop
Some types of windshield chips and cracks simply cannot be repaired by hand. The easy fixes available using DIY repair kits won’t work if the crack doesn’t meet the criteria mentioned above.
You would have to go to a professional to have your windshield repaired or replaced. Even without taking a close look, you can tell that a crack would need professional assistance. This happens in instances when you observe:
- Chips or cracks on the interior part
- Damage that pierces through all layers of the auto glass
- Chips or cracks that impair the driver’s view
- Complex or big spider cracks
- Cracks over 18” long
- Cracks or chips on the edge of the windshield
Overall, it is best to be safe rather than sorry when it comes to car damages. Contact an auto body repair professional to assist you with either a repair kit or with a repair job.
Written by Marc Laferierre, owner of Dents Unlimited. Dents Unlimited offers the best auto body repair Columbia MO has to offer.