Have a chipped windshield or a passenger window that’s making a scary noise when you try to roll down your window? Need to get some estimates but worried about paying for a new window–not to mention a new window installation? You’ve come to the right place!
We’ve got myriad solutions for lowering your car window replacement costs, whether you’re the DIY type or would prefer to take it to a professional who knows what he or she is doing. Plus, we help you understand when it’s safe to repair instead of replacing a window.
All that and more is included below, so keep reading!
Is a Cracked Windshield Dangerous?
Let’s answer the question everyone wants to know: is the chip in my windshield dangerous? The answer is a bit complicated. First, a lesson on how windows are made. Automotive windows are laminated, which means they composed of a layer of glass glued to a clear plastic material which is glued to another layer of glass.
This means that in the event of an accident or the window getting shattered, the tiny pieces of glass don’t go anywhere; they stay stuck to the plastic. This is called safety glass and exists to keep you from getting if the glass breaks. The short answer then is yes, the car windows can shatter, but not in a way that will hurt you.
Here’s Where the Problem Lies
What might hurt you is the windshield losing structural integrity. Especially for newer model cars, the front window adds to the strength of the vehicle, so if that has been compromised, your car might not be able to keep you as safe as it would otherwise.
This becomes especially pertinent when the strength of your vehicle’s roof is put to the test, like in a rollover. A damaged windshield might mean a collapsed roof, which could cause extreme injuries for you and your passengers.
With your side or passenger windows, however, you’re mostly dealing with the inconvenience of not being able to roll your windows up or down. These, however, are usually less of an issue as they don’t normally chip or crack (they’re smaller and less prone to such damage).
Can You See?
The other issue, outside of the window cutting you or physically hurting you, is that it decreases your visibility. It’s easy for a crack to not seem like a big deal, but in the right light, at the right angle, in a split second (which is when accidents happen), a crack or chip can be a huge problem.
The final concern with a chip or crack is that it can spread. If you don’t take care of it, it can mean the difference between an inexpensive repair and replacing your entire window. However, are there times you can postpone taking action?
It Gets Worse
The thing about cracks is that they usually get worse. Once the outer layer of glass is compromised, dirt and moisture can get between the layers, causing the crack to expand more. Even additional bumps or rocks hitting your windshield can place more stress on the area that’s already weakened.
When Should You Take Action?
One simple solution to help keep water, dirt, or condensation out of your windshield is to place clear tape over it. This is a temporary solution but it won’t obstruct your view and will help things from getting worse until you can get it fixed.
Experts differ on recommendations for cheap car window replacement costs, but most tell you that, especially if you’re in a climate where you’re dealing with extreme cold or heat that can exacerbate windshield damage, if the chip or scratch touches the edge of the glass (or is close to it), is larger than a quarter or a credit card, or exposes the plastic in between the layers of glass, you should get it repaired.
If it’s small enough, you’ll be able to avoid a full replacement and just make a repair, but there are situations where a replacement will keep you safer. Ultimately, if you’re concerned, check with a reputable automotive repair center.
How Much Does It Cost?
Car window replacement costs and car window repair costs vary wildly according to several factors. These include:
- The make, model, and age of your car (newer models often have sensors and other equipment inside the glass–sometimes, higher-end models even need to be replaced at the dealership. In these cases, you’re looking at costs of upwards of $600).
- Where you’re getting your windshield repaired (a low-cost shop like Maaco will be less than the dealership. There are also local technicians who work independently at repairing and replacing windshields. They’re often cheap, but there’s no recourse or warranty support later if things go south with your repair or replacement.)
- Who is repairing (a pro will charge and a DIY job will be free except for materials but can take hours or potentially be dangerous if not done correctly)
- The extent of the repair (replacement is much more difficult and costly, and should probably be left to the experts, while repairs might be more manageable to do yourself, though they’ll also cost less than a replacement if you decide to pay to have it done)
- Which window (windshields will cost more than passenger windows)
- Original parts or aftermarket parts (original parts will cost more than aftermarket parts)
The average, however, for most people, tends to be in the mid-200’s for parts and labor at a professional shop on a windshield replacement.
DIY vs. Hiring a Pro
Car window replacement cost can easily influence your decision to do the job yourself; it’s much cheaper! As we mentioned earlier, however, it’s important to factor in the time involved (most experienced DIY’ers know to give themselves a lot more time than estimated!) and your level of expertise.
For example, if you never work on cars, a windshield replacement or passenger window replacement probably isn’t the place to start. However, if you have a small chip, a DIY windshield repair kit might be a great option for you and help you prolong the life of your window without a significant monetary outlay.
Most windshield repair kits, however, are only effective on very small cracks.
Replacing the Windshield
To help you better understand what replacing a windshield might entail for you, we thought we’d break it down:
First, you’ll need to remove the old, broken windshield. This job will involve two people, as you’ll need an extra set of hands to help you lift out the window. Before it’s ready for that, however, you’ll need to use a razor or cold knife to cut the window away from the pinch-weld, which is where the metal components of the window frame are welded together.
Once you’ve done this (being careful to remove and not damage the plastic moldings around the glass), you’ll need your partner’s assistance to carefully lift the glass away. He or she should be inside the vehicle apply gentle pressure outwards, while you should be lifting as the glass becomes available to grasp.
Next, you’ll need to thoroughly clean the frame of all dirt and debris. You should also make sure to trim excess urethane (urethane acts as the glue that attaches and seals the window to your car) to approximately 3mm thick.
Your next steps will involve applications of primer and urethane, but before you do that, you’ll need to tape off the edge of the frame that you don’t want to prime. Don’t forget to protect the inside of your car with a drop cloth or plastic–you don’t want any primer dripping onto your seat or dash!
Now you’re ready to apply a coat of primer and then (once the primer dries) use an electric caulking gun to apply a new coat of urethane to the existing urethane. The reason we recommend an electric caulking gun is because a manual gun makes an even, consistent application very difficult to achieve!
Finally, it’s time to install the windshield. Carefully align and rest it on top of the urethane and then follow the urethane manufacturer’s directions carefully regarding dry time. Do not use your vehicle until that top is up!
The Final Verdict
As you can see, deciding whether to replace car windows or repair them can be involved. Our recommendation, however, is to leave the actual installation to a pro–for a couple of hundred dollars, you can’t go wrong!
Finding somebody to help is also fairly straightforward; just type in “car window replacement near me” in your online search engine! For small chips, however, a DIY repair kit might be a great option. Either way, being proactive about repairs and replacements will save you money in the long run–and could keep you safer on the road.