Did you know that somewhere around 50 to 75 percent of all replaced windshields could have been repaired by a professional or one of the do it yourself kits purchased from the store? That is a lot of perfectly good windshields going to the landfill for no reason. Many areas in the U.S. unfortunately do not have a windshield recycling program in place.
While many people choose to pay a professional to repair their chips and cracks, it is actually a fairly simple process to do yourself. All you need is about an hour of labor, a windshield repair kit (anywhere from $6 to $20), and a few tips and tricks from the trade to see you through the project. Let's begin:
What Types of Windshield Damage Can be Repaired?
Any chip in the glass as large as one inch in diameter as well as a small star crack with no more than 2 small arms extending less than a half inch in length are good candidates for a store purchased repair kit. Longer cracks can sometimes be repaired by a professional depending on the severity of the crack, the tools used, and the repairers skill level.
The window for any successful windshield repair is usually within the first month the damage occurs. Older chips can be repaired, but in general the sooner you get to it the better your results will be. You also have to keep in mind that a chip or crack left on a vehicle for any given period, may spread quickly and become unrepairable during a spout of one cold evening, rainstorm, or jarring bump on the road.
Preparation for the Windshield Repair
Make sure the sunlight is going to be out for the next few hours, as most of these kits will rely on the sun to cure the solution. Another option is to use an ultraviolet lamp. Without either of these, the adhesive will remain a liquid and the repair will be next to impossible. One of the most important steps of any windshield repair is getting the windshield as clean as possible. This is part of the reason that waiting too long before a repair is unwise, as it will become next to impossible to properly clean the damaged area (inside the crack).
The first thing you want to do is gently remove any loose pieces of glass inside of the chip with a razor blade. Then take the razor blade and slide it across the glass to remove as much contamination (tree sap, bugs, etc.) from the window as possible. Finally, use soap and water and denatured alcohol to clean the chip or star and a two foot radius around the windshield. This will keep any contaminates from falling into your repair area.
The Windshield Repair Process
You want the chip area to be absolutely dry before injecting the adhesive. This is the other reason it is a good idea to do this on a warm, sunny day. The final key to a good repair is following the direction of the kit and not taking any shortcuts. The instructions will call for you to apply a syringe to the windshield directly over top the chip. Be very careful not to get any of the adhesive on your paint throughout this process.
What follows with be a series of pulls on the syringe plunger and snaps back against the glass in order to create a vacuum inside to allow the air to escape as the adhesive takes its place inside the damaged areas. This process will slowly fill the cracks and crevasses of the chip. You will need a clock with a second hand, as these pulls and snaps will be precisely timed. Continue to follow these steps until there are no traces of bubbles in the adhesive. It will be easiest to see this in the daylight from the inside of the vehicle.
Completing Your Windshield Repair
Once finished, you will have a solid film of adhesive covering the chip or star. If everything went well you should hardly be able to tell where the crack used to be, but you may still feel a small nipple from the center of the syringe. Let the adhesive cure for several hours, then you can use a razor blade to gently shave off any protruding adhesive down to the level of the rest of the glass.
You should now have a permanent repair that will stop the damage from spreading. This will also improve your safety by providing better overall vision through your windshield glass, but best of all you have saved one more windshield from ending up in a landfill.