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Factors to Determine Windshield Repair vs. Replacement
Zenith Auto Glass

Factors to Determine Windshield Repair vs. Replacement

Minnesota roads can be pretty tough on your car, especially during the winter months. And few parts of your vehicle take more impact from road debris than your front windshield.

When all of that commuting takes its toll on your auto glass, you can end up with a windshield chip, fracture, or crack that hinders your visibility, making driving less safe. To get where you’re going without incident and avoid a ticket, it’s essential to eliminate any windshield damage as soon as possible.

Follow this guide to determine whether you need windshield repair or replacement services, and then give Zenith Auto Glass a call to schedule your mobile service in the Duluth-Superior area!

Types of Windshield Damage

Not all windshield damage is alike, and the type of damage to your windshield can impact whether your windshield needs to be repaired or replaced.

These are the most common causes of windshield damage.

Road Debris

All types of road debris can damage your windshield, especially when you’re driving on the highway. When rocks and chunks of debris fly up from the road or get kicked up by other vehicles, they can cause chips and cracks.

Always try to remain a safe minimum distance from other vehicles while traveling on the highway to minimize your chance of windshield damage.

Sand and Debris Particles

It’s not just the large debris that can wreak havoc on your windshield. Small particles of sand can also create pitting over time.

One of the primary causes of pitting is road salt during the winter months. While pitting isn’t always easy to see with the naked eye, it can make driving a challenge when your window is covered in rain.

Heavy Snow and Ice

Minnesota winters can mean plenty of ice and snow piled on your windshield. If there are any chips, no matter how minor, all of that pressure can cause the damage to expand, especially as the glass expands and contracts due to extreme temperatures.

Signs Your Windshield Can Be Repaired

Many types of windshield damage can easily be repaired.

Here are a few indicators that yours can be repaired rather than replaced:

1.      The crack or chip is nowhere close to the windshield edge.

2.      Only the outer layer is damaged.

3.      Your car can be safely driven after a repair.

4.      For a bullseye chip, the damage is smaller than an inch. For a windshield crack, the damage is less than a few inches in length.

Signs Your Windshield Needs to Be Replaced

All of these signs indicate a windshield that needs to be replaced:

1.      The size of the bullseye or crack is larger than a dollar bill.

2.      The damage is near the edge of the windshield.

3.      The damage is deep, affecting the inner layer of the glass.

4.      The glass is not laminated.

5.      Your ability to drive safely and see clearly is impaired.

6.      Several areas of the glass are damaged.

7.      Cracks resemble extensive spider webs or are very complex.

Automotive Windshield Basics

The first thing to understand about windshield repair is that car windshield glass is much different from traditional residential glass. Windshields are manufactured to endure high-speed impacts without shattering, so they are made of several bonded layers of glass.

Typically, a car windshield features two layers of laminate sandwiched around a layer of vinyl. If the glass does break, it will usually stay together rather than breaking into dangerous shards that could injure the driver or passengers.

What to Expect From the Windshield Repair Process

The windshield repair process is fairly simple and straightforward. We begin the process by inspecting the windshield completely. We’ll thoroughly assess the level of damage to determine whether windshield repair or replacement is the best option for your vehicle based on the complexity, size, and shape of the damage.

After our technician determines a windshield repair is the best course of action, we’ll get started. Before repairing your windshield, we need to make sure the automotive glass is completely clean and free of dust, debris, and film.

After cleaning your glass and making sure it’s dry, we inject a restorative resin into the glass using a specialized syringe. The final step is the curing process. Your technician may apply a special technique to facilitate curing.

Once the resin is cured, you’ll be able to drive your car home again and wash the glass without concern for the condition of the repair. The resin in the glass strengthens the material to a rock-solid surface once more that is every bit as structurally secure as the original glass. And the finished product looks smooth and practically invisible to the average driver.

Risks of Postponing Glass Repair

As soon as you notice a crack in your windshield, be sure to schedule windshield repair services as soon as possible. When you put off glass repair services, the damage can end up spreading quickly, and once it exceeds a certain point, you risk getting hit with a fine.

Worse, driving with a broken windshield can be dangerous, impeding your ability to see the road clearly. These are just a few of the many things that can cause windshield breaks to expand:

Heat and Thaw Cycles

When you start mixing hot and cold, your windshield takes the brunt of it. Going from freezing temperatures and turning on a heater full blast to sitting in blazing heat and turning on the A/C can be dangerous to your windshield. This is because sudden changes in temperatures weaken the glass, and these jumps from cold to hot and hot to cold are the perfect environment to spread cracks and damage.

Additional Impacts

Impacts can happen anywhere, and depending on the intensity of the situation, the windshield can be affected by it. From increasing the size of cracks or chips to completely shattering the windshield, even the slightest impact can cause direct stress to the glass resulting in greater damage.


Windshields are made with three layers. One layer of vinyl is positioned between two layers of glass, and if you have any damage, this leaves plenty of space for moisture to get between them. Scenarios like rain or car washes can easily allow moisture between the layers, and once you get into freezing temperatures, the water will expand and can create new cracks or cause existing ones to grow.

Pressure From Fast Turns

As you drive your vehicle, the circumstances will change the pressure the windshield experiences. Taking a corner quickly puts a different type of stress on the vehicle and can enhance any existing damage or create new stress cracks.

Potholes or Speed Bumps

Driving on bumpy roads is another area of concern because this extra stress is put on your entire vehicle, including the windshield. The more rugged the terrain, the more likely they will spread if you have existing damage. If you have chips or cracks, minimizing the risk is key, so avoiding bumpy roads and refraining from slamming on the brakes or car door can help reduce the impact until you can get a repair scheduled.

Schedule Your Duluth-Superior Windshield Repair Services

Are you taking a chance by driving around with a crack or chip in your windshield? Contact Zenith Auto Glass for convenient windshield repair services you can count on or give us a call at 218-275-5555 today.

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