Your vehicle’s windshield is composed of three layers: two pieces of glass separated by a thin layer of “PVB” (polyvinyl butyrate). PVB is the plastic film that essentially holds it all together. Depending on the density of the outer-layer and the force of a rock impact, the glass can flex and break. Unless the windshield is completely shattered, most often the damage is in the form of a rock chip. These are generally in the shape of a star, bullseye, or tiny crack. Although it may appear innocuous, over time, a rock chip will more likely than not spread to form a crack. Studies have shown that over 90% of rock chips continue to grow. Fatigue stress due to temperature changes and road conditions work to accelerate this process.You may want to check out Windshield Repair for more.
The first company to introduce a rudimentary system for windshield repair was 3m, with a product called “Scotch Weld.” This system produced an ultrasound vibration to clean the break while injecting an adhesive. It was relatively effective; however it failed to repair many types of damage.
In 1972, Dr. Frank Werner invented a device that could substitute the air within a rock chip with a resin that could prevent a crack from developing. Over time, the science behind windshield repair evolved. Today, windshield repair is considered a favored alternative to windshield replacement in many circumstances. And although the science has evolved, the objective remains the same: to completely substitute the air within the break with an acrylic resin that will improve optical clarity, prevent further damage, and restore the structural integrity of the windshield.
THE WINDSHIELD CONUNDRUM: REPAIR OR REPLACE?
Windshield repair is essentially preventative maintenance. However, most motorists whose windshields suffer rock damage pay little or no mind to it. This is especially true where the damage is outside of the acute area of the windshield – not directly in front of the driver’s view. Hence the saying: “out of sight, out of mind.”
Once the rock chip spreads to become a large crack, windshield repair is no longer a viable option. Unfortunately, the cost of a new windshield can range anywhere between $300 to well over $1000, depending on the vehicle and the type of replacement windshield. OEM windshields, those made by the original manufacturer, are significantly more expensive than their aftermarket counterparts. In addition, many modern windshields offer features such as heating elements, sun coatings, and antennae, which significantly inflate the cost. Even with insurance, the deductible can be so high that it would be pointless to file an insurance claim. Thus, it is easy to understand why a $50 windshield repair is a favored alternative.
But cost is not the only issue. Once a factory windshield is replaced, other problems can surface. Windshield replacement compromises the factory seal, which is nearly impossible to replicate. Not only can an improperly replaced windshield lead to leakage and possible water damage, it can fail in the event of an accident.
Together with the air bags and seatbelts, the windshield plays a significant part of the vehicle’s safety restraint system (SRS). In an accident, the windshield works to maintain the structural integrity of the passenger compartment. As you can imagine, this is especially important in the event of a roll-over accident. It also cushions the occupant’s impact and prevents the possibly of being ejected from the vehicle. An improperly installed windshield could fail on all of these fronts.
An investigative report conducted by ABC’s 20/20 shed light into the dangers surrounding improperly installed windshields. It found that millions of windshields have not been installed properly and have contributed to serious injuries and even death.
So there are many reasons why a vehicle owner should opt for windshield repair early on. Ignoring the small and seemingly unintrusive rock chip could prove to be a mistake.