From Chip To Crack

By Sharon Naylor

April 3, 2015 5 min read

You know to put plenty of distance between your car and any truck or vehicle in front of you while driving, especially if that vehicle is towing landscaping materials. But all it takes is for the vehicle in front of you to kick up some gravel for your car to get sprayed with pebbles and debris. At a high enough speed and with just the right impact, a pebble can hit your windshield and chip the glass. It's a frustrating occurrence, because you know that pebble damage now has to be fixed -- and that it can be pretty expensive to get work done at a glass-repair shop. So can you fix pebble-damaged glass yourself?

The simple answer is that no two stone chips are identical. To the eye, a chip may look like any other, but down deep, the damage is one of a kind. After all, many car windshields have outer and inner layers. That pebble may have caused chips in both, or in just the outer layer. A chip may starburst out in any number of directions and depths. And when a chip occurs, the chipped glass particles become surrounded by tiny air pockets that can worsen with water exposure and freezing weather, distorting your vision and weakening the integrity of your windshield. An untreated chip in a window can get worse, turning into a longer crack that cannot be repaired. Full windshield replacement most likely would be needed.

You'll need to decide whether you wish to repair your pebbled windows yourself, or bring your car in to your mechanic or to a car glass-repair shop. Weighing the pros and cons, a visit to the mechanic can be pricy and time-consuming, and yet the job will be done professionally, perhaps saving you from greater damage in the future. If you DIY your car window repair, it will likely be much cheaper. Keep in mind, though, that leased cars may require you to have the fix done professionally, so the decision is made for you.

Another thing to consider is that your auto insurance may cover glass repairs. The experts at Esurance say that "comprehensive coverage can kick in to help repair glass damage," and "some states have a specific glass coverage option that might allow you to skip the deductible altogether. These coverages vary by state, so check the specifics of your coverage to find out what you can expect to pay out of pocket (if anything) on a windshield claim."

And there is the eco-friendly issue of avoiding complete windshield replacement to keep the extra glass out of landfills. Many considerations will help you make your decision, one of the biggest being your confidence in yourself to tackle a DIY glass-repair project using a glass chip-repair kit found at your auto supply store and at big-box stores such as Sears.

If you do wish to take on the pebble-chip repair job yourself, drive your damaged car to your auto parts store, where you may be able to show the damage to an on-site car repair expert who can suggest the right windshield repair kit for you. You'll discover a number of different glass-chip repair kits on the market, including ones that work with the sun's UV rays to cure resin applications to the chip. Your auto supply store expert will be an invaluable resource in choosing the ideal glass repair kit for your particular damage.

You can then follow the directions on the package and learn application secrets by watching YouTube glass-repair videos, as well as product-use videos that may be posted on the repair kit's brand website. You also could improve your odds of success by asking a friend who has experience with car repairs to help out.

Before using a DIY glass-chip repair kit, be sure your car's warranty doesn't void from self-applied repair materials, and plan to avoid using your car for the prescribed amount of time after the fix so that the resin may dry completely.

After your professional or DIY glass-chip repair, ideally, your windshield will look good as new and will be fixed to a degree that prevents further damage from developing.

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