Chipped Windscreen? Repair or Replace?

windscreen chip repair
Windscreen chip repair

We all take windscreens for granted seldom giving them a second thought until they become damaged and then we are faced with the problem of choosing the best way to deal with the damage. In some cases a complete replacement is the only option and major damage such as cracks will invariably involve the fitting of a new screen but chips can be quite a different matter. Some can be satisfactorily repaired and some cannot but being able to judge the difference between “fixers”, “maybes” and the “no-hopers” is a job for the experts. In many cases, the decision to consider a windscreen repair rather than going straight in for a new screen is down to the insurance companies and most comprehensive policies make special provisions for dealing with glass damage. Any such claim usually does not affect a no claims bonus and the works are sometimes carried out with no cost to the policy holder or a policy excess amount may apply in some cases. It is of course in the interests of insurance companies to keep costs as low as possible meaning that windscreen replacement is usually only authorised after any possible repair options have been considered and found to be impractical.

What Kind of Chips are Repairable?

Whether or not a chip can be repaired depends on several things. The first is its location and any chip situated immediately in front of the driver and in his direct line of vision is likely to be problematical. A chip in this area is likely to result in an MOT failure. If the full extent of the chip is less than 10mm (approximately the size of a 5p coin) a repair may be possible. For other parts of the windscreen, larger chips may be regarded as suitable candidates for repair with 15 to 40mm chips often being tackled. Another consideration is the physical nature of the chip. Chips come in many different shapes and sizes some of which are more suitable for repair than others. Star, half moon or bull’s-eye chips are commonly encountered but some chips consist of a combination of various types and it is therefore down to the skill of the technician in determining the best way of dealing with them.

Are Chip Repairs Invisible?

The modern materials used for chip repairs are extremely good with regard to strength, clarity and refractive index providing the capability for virtually invisible repairs. Each chip of course is different and some may require more extensive treatment than others. Highly skilled technicians can provide the best possible repair in each individual case and the strength and integrity of the screen will be restored. In some cases, the site of the original damaged area may still be slightly discernible after the completion of the repair.

Why Bother Having Small Chips Repaired?

No one likes to waste money and there could be a temptation to simply ignore small chips, providing of course that they not in the driver’s direct line of sight. Such a course of action could prove to be a false economy and could also pose serious safety hazards. Even small chips can significantly weaken the windscreen. Chips frequently involve some degree of cracking which can be seen as small lines leading the impact point. These minute cracks have the capability of developing into full-size cracks often without warning and this of course means that a new screen then becomes inevitable. It may seem strange but in many designs, the windscreen acts as a structural component adding rigidity to the vehicle body. Glass of course does not flex as well as steel and can crack if subjected to any inappropriate forces. Another often overlooked function of the windscreen is provide support for air-bags triggered in the event of an accident. A weakened windscreen is therefore something which must be avoided.

How Long Does a Chip Repair Take?

The good news is that windscreen chip repairs can often be carried out while you wait. The nature of the very detailed work and the fact that the chemicals used require special processes and time to cure means that this is not a job which can be rushed but this is the kind of job that can carried out while you are busy doing something else such as visiting the supermarket.

Repair or Replace?

There will always be instances where a new windscreen is the only option but windscreen chip repairs can certainly offer a convenient and cost-effective alternative. The best advice is to consult the experts.