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Windshield cracks: to replace or repair?

A guide to understanding when a windshield crack can be repaired, and when replacement is the only option.

Motorists are often reluctant to replace a windscreen with a slight crack because of the expense – but, because windscreens contribute to the structural safety of the car, a full replacement is sometimes the only option. The question is, how to tell?

Generally speaking, if the crack is small enough to be covered by a R2 coin, it can simply be repaired – in other words, it should be no more than 2.5cm in diameter and 7cm long. That said, factors like the size, type, depth, and location of the crack impact whether it is, indeed, repairable. Location is particularly important: if the chip intrudes or interrupts the driver’s line of sight, it may prove very distracting. And, if it is on the border of the windscreen, where the glass meets metal, it may compromise passenger safety and will weaken the windscreen structure. 

Drivers should also be aware that if the technician can’t see the whole crack, they won’t be able to fix it. They also need to know that even if the crack or chip is repaired, there may be some damage remaining in the form of discolouration, mistiness, or unevenness – which, again, may distract the driver if it is in their line of sight. 

The best course of action is to consult a technician, who will be able to provide proper advice.