The humble windshield is perhaps one of the least appreciated parts of any car. You stare through it every single day, yet we often look past what we'd do without it. Back in the old days, drivers had to succumb to absorbing bugs, dirt, muck, and rainwater in the face at speed, in their windshield-less cars. Yet, the thought of your windshield hits you like a truck whenever you hear that sharp 'whack!'
Then a tiny crack or chip appears, caused by a small loose stone. A windshield is a huge slab of glass, and if you've ever needed to undergo the process of replacing your phone's shattered screen, then you know that molten sand is quite expensive. But don't despair just yet, as repairing a windshield, rather than replacing it outright, isn't just possible, but is quite simple and cheap to do.
Repair v. Replacement
The first thing that you should do after seeing a crack or chip appear on your windshield, is to stop and assess the . We need to stress that you should never ignore a chipped or cracked windshield. This large slab of glass is now structurally compromised, which would make it more susceptible to shattering under pressure or if there's even a minor collision, or a second impact.
Moreover, your now-cracked or chipped windshield, no matter how small the damage may be, is a distraction that could impair your visibility. Water, mud, dirt, and other contaminants can seep into the gaps of the chip or crack, muddying and fogging up your entire view. As we've established, we now need to see if you're going to need a repair, or a complete windshield replacement.
Chips or cracks on your windshield can be seen as a flower- or star-like pattern, or it might even look like a bullet-hole. These can easily be repaired with a chip repair kit, which can be found for around or sometimes less than £10. It works simply by filling in the chip, and no, a DIY-style repair using super glue or adhesives to fill in the gaps isn't recommended.
If the damage on your windshield is a long crack or a deep chip, it might have to be replaced. In the UK, the average replacement cost is around £200, but could start rising to £400 and upwards in no time. A few factors do play a role in how much your windshield replacement is going to cost, such as the make and model of your car, which may be offset if you have warranty or insurance coverage.
What Are Windshield Chip Repair Kits?
Windshield chip repair kits should always be your first go-to solution for when the dreaded chips or cracks appear. For the most part, these repair kits contain a bottle of clear and highly viscous resin. It can fill in the gaps around the chip or crack and then bonding with the windshield to create a secure fit. It's relatively cheap, not to mention easy to apply, and saves you a lot of time.
They are that easy to use, and most folks can do this at home. Here's a quick step-by-step guide on how to use these chip repair kits to fix your chipped or cracked windshield...
Step 1: The first step would be to clean the chip or crack itself and the surrounding area, preferably using rubbing alcohol over water or any other cleaning solution. A clean surface will ensure the epoxy resin bond as firmly with the windshield as possible. If there's debris or small shards of glass within the chip or crack, gently remove them using a toothpick or a thumbtack.
Step 2: After it's been washed with that rubbing alcohol, you can dry out the working area with a microfibre cloth. You now start to place the repair kit onto the windshield. Although they come in varying forms, they usually are designed with a large cylindrical tube or a syringe-like device to apply the resin.
Step 3: When attaching the repair kit, you'll need to use the pre-included suction cups to keep it firmly in place. Place the syringe, making sure that the tip is in line with the chip or crack that you're trying to fill in. The tip of the syringe will now seal against the chip, creating an air-tight vacuum for the resin to flow through. You don't want any air bubbles for the repair.
Step 4: When an air-tight and vacuumed seal has been created around the chip or crack with the syringe, you can start filling it in with the epoxy resin. With some repair kits, you may first have to mix the resin, though most come pre-mixed. Once you've already filled in the recommended quantity of resin, screw in the plunger up top.
TIP: Before we start with applying the resin, you need to make sure that you're doing this repair away from direct sunlight. UV light will cure the resin, which will be required later on. But as you're now just trying to fill it in and make sure it's settled properly, you don't want it to cure, bond, and harden prematurely.
Step 5: At this stage, you can start to fill in the chip or crack, with one hand on the plunger, and the other holding the syringe in place. Pull the plunger slowly to the top, which will also have the effect of removing some potential air bubbles, and push it down to start applying the resin. Keep pushing it all the way down as it fills in the chip, and every gap left behind.
Step 6: The resin is completely clear and transparent, but it's an illusion that will be ruined should there be any air bubbles. Take a peek from both inside and outside the car, and see if there are any air bubbles left. Usually, most repair kits require that you wait 5-10 minutes for all the air bubbles to leave before we can move on. You could carefully knock on the windshield to help it along.
Step 7: So far, we've used the syringe to fill in the cracks along the chip. However, the large pit of the crater still remains. Now, remove the syringe entirely, and grab the bottle of epoxy resin to properly fill in the large chunk of glass that's missing. Apply one or two drops (or more for a larger "pit"), and then apply the curing strip on top.
Step 8: Put the curing strip (which should look like a clear tape) carefully to remove all the air bubbles, and use a razor to gently nudge those pesky bubbles away. That razor blade should also work to smoothen out the epoxy resin. Drive your car out into the sun, and let it sit there for some minutes as recommended by your repair kit to let the resin cure.
Step 9: Once you've given it enough time to cure, and there are no more air bubbles that remain, take out the razor blade again. Carefully peel away the curing strip, and that's a job well done!
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