For the most part, vehicle glass is probably the last thing on our minds. It just doesn’t require the kind of attention a car’s engine
, brakes or sheet metal does on a regular basis, but when it chips or cracks, it can cost you hundreds of dollars and be a serious safety risk. Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to protect yourself from massive repair costs with a few simple tricks.
1. Get Glass Coverage
By law, you have to have auto insurance
, so tacking on a little bit of extra coverage to take care of broken glass won’t cost that much. In many cases, it’s just a few extra dollars per month, and it could wind up saving you serious money depending on the type and age of your vehicle. Of course, it pays to be careful. If your insurance deductable is more than the cost of replacing a windshield (usually about $200-500), glass coverage won’t do you much good. The best thing to do is to get on the phone with your insurance agent and find out how little glass coverage actually costs and whether or not it will be worth it to you. It could end up saving you from paying that $200 out of pocket.
If your vehicle is brand new and a crack developed without being hit by a stone, it’s possible you’ve encountered a manufacturer defect. Check the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration to make sure no recalls have been issued on your vehicle. If one matches the problem you’re having, pick up the phone and call your closest dealer. The damage should be covered by your vehicle’s warranty, and manufacturers are obligated to fix any safety issues that fall under recall for free. In many cases, the work won’t cost you anything other than having to be without your car for a few days.
3. Fix Small Problems Quickly
If your windshield develops a small chip due to a stone peck, most glass repair shops will be able to fix it before it grows into a full-blown crack. Most places will repair the damage for less than $100, saving you hundreds over the cost of having to replace the glass once the crack grows. As a rule, anything smaller than a quarter can easily be fixed, but checking with a local glass shop is the best way to know for sure whether or not the damage can be repaired. Make sure you fix the chip or crack as soon as it happens, though. Changes in temperature from day to night, or from one day to the next, can easily make a small problem grow into a much bigger one.
4. Go With On-Site Repair
Not too long ago, getting your windshield replaced meant dropping your vehicle off at a glass shop during normal operating hours for a few days, arranging for rides to and from work, and eventually picking up your own car later. That usually meant taking time out of work, and for most of us that means a slimmer paycheck at the end of the day. Now there’s no need to make an already expensive repair cost you that much more in time off. Most glass repair businesses can do everything from small chip and crack repair to full-blown windshield replacement on site. So long as the vehicle is in a dry place or the weather is sunny, they can swap out your old piece of glass for a flawless new unit while you work away the day. Just ask your local repair shop if they offer the service. If they don’t, do a little shopping around.
5. Think About Aftermarket Glass
While the absolute best option for replacement glass is material suggested by the manufacturer, you can save some serious money by going with non-OEM parts. Aftermarket
glass is held to the same safety and quality standards as the parts that come from the factory. What’s more, manufacturers like SafeLite, PPG and others produce glass for older vehicles that may no longer be supported by the factory. So how much can you save? It varies from vehicle to vehicle and location to location, but the savings can add up to as much as $400 on luxury or sports cars.