The windscreen is an extremely important part of any vehicle – and unfortunately also an area that is prone to damage. Modern windscreens are technically quite sound and made from dual layer laminated glass which is glued into position and aids in the rigidity of the whole structure of the car. Windscreens don’t tend to fragment thanks to an inner layer, aiding safety in the event of a rollover. A windscreen check is part of an MOT.
Glass is of course by nature a somewhat fragile material, even with the processes with which modern screens go through in order to protect them (and us) from taking any damage. However, there are a number of factors that can effect damage such as wiper blade scratches, using sharp objects to remove frost from your car, stone chips and more.
A neighbour of mine recently suffered an interesting problem with a side window. She left the car for approximately one hour and upon her return discovered a side window completely fragmented. I was at the time cleaning my car, but didn’t see anyone causing the damage. Interestingly, when the police arrived to investigate they notified her that it was possibly a small stone chip, which the weather had in turn extended across all of the glass. Proof positive, I’m sure you’ll agree, of the importance of having repairs completed (though in this case, she did not see any damage in the first place!).
By far the most common form of incidental damage (i.e. when you’re out and about) remains the classic stone chip. There are a variety of factors that govern this type of damage, such as road surface driven on, number of miles, size and shape of windscreen, rake angle and type of car. Some cars seem to be more prone to this type of damage than others.
Stone chipping is a generic term really, but could mean just about anything causing impact damage – in this case with particular regard to your windscreen, though you may find your bonnet pot-holed too. There are a number of different types of impact that may be visible should your car suffer this, such as rounded ‘bulls eye’ damage or a ‘star break’ where the damage blooms outwards in all directions.
Of course, a chip is just that – and quite often does start off very minor at first (but warrants immediate attention, as I’ll demonstrate below). Real problems set in through the chip becoming much bigger. This can be caused by shock or vibration, extremes of temperature (so don’t pour hot water onto your frozen windscreen) or further impact damage.
By getting a windscreen chip repaired by a suitably guaranteed company you are potentially saving yourself the cost of a new screen. If you have glass cover on your insurance (most people do), a repair is usually free in most cases. There are one or two insurance companies that have started levying a small excess – typically £10.
Compare this with the cost of a replacement windscreen. If your windscreen chip cracks and you have glass cover on your insurance then you will have to pay your glass excess which is generally £50-£100.
This highlights how important it is, as I mentioned above, to have any damage rectified sooner rather than later, as once the damage goes beyond a certain point, you have no option but to replace the whole windscreen. Without glass cover on insurance, prices do vary so check with a number of suppliers before agreeing to have a repair completed.
Windscreen repair (rather than replacement) also has some further benefits:
- environmental (the screen is repaired instead of being removed and replaced with a new one)
- it’s quicker (takes just 30 minutes for a repair) so if time is money then this helps you save too
Plus there are the safety aspects:
- a windscreen chip could crack at any time and may distract you while you drive
- your windscreen provides up to 30% of the vehicle’s structural strength because it is bonded with special adhesive to the window aperture and the passenger airbag relies on the windscreen to provide support if the airbag deploys. Repairing a chip will result in your windscreen being as strong as before the damage happened.
It’s also worth highlighting that whilst there are a range of suppliers, it’s best to go with one that can provide you with a guarantee of the work done, for example, Autoglass holds the ISO 9001:2000 Certification of Quality Assurance.
If you are at all worried about your windscreen or any other car windows, please do get it checked out. As highlighted above, it is important not just for your wallet but also your safety.