Can I slow down the spreading of a windshield crack?
January 3, 2005 7:38 AM   Subscribe

Cracked Windshield Filter: Anyone ever successfully slowed down the spreading of a windshield crack? Mine's moving at about an inch a day and I'd really like to put off getting a new windshield for as long as possible.
posted by amro to Travel & Transportation (24 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If it's still short enough (i.e., under a foot) most places will attempt to fill the crack with an epoxy that should stop it from spreading more. If you have comprehensive insurance, many insurance companies will pay for the repair with no deductable and without really counting as a normal claim, since it's a lot cheaper for me. Try asking them if they do it. If not, try contacting a local windshield shop and see how much they would charge and if they would attempt it.

Or you could do a google search for windshield repair and find lots of information, although much of it just ads. But if you want to fix it yourself, you'd have to buy something.
posted by skynxnex at 7:47 AM on January 3, 2005

If you've got anything above just No Fault insurance, there's a good chance your policy covers replacement with some sort of deductible.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 7:59 AM on January 3, 2005

I've had it done and it worked fine. They drilled a small hole at the end of the crack and filled it with epoxy. This was more than a year ago and the crack has spread no further. It didn't cost me anything, my insurance paid for it. It took perhaps 30 minutes.
posted by RustyBrooks at 8:04 AM on January 3, 2005

How big was the crack you had fixed?
posted by mecran01 at 8:08 AM on January 3, 2005

Just a crack? You may not need a new windshield. Due to new technology, cracks are often fixable w/o replacement. Cost is much much less, naturally.
posted by Shane at 8:19 AM on January 3, 2005

Also, check your insurance policy. I assumed there was a deductible (I carry a high deductible on my insurance), but my carrier paid it 100% with no deductible because they considered it a safety issue. Direct billing, too. Sweet.

It was either State Farm or GEICO. Don't exactly remember on which side of the changeover that it happened.
posted by baltimore at 8:37 AM on January 3, 2005

If it's growing at a freaking inch per day, I'd have that replaced, like, now.
posted by adampsyche at 8:47 AM on January 3, 2005

My crack was probably about a foot long. It went through a period of very rapid growth, mostly likely due to frost/thaw cycles (texas is a state where it can literally go from freezing to 70 degrees several times in a week)
posted by RustyBrooks at 9:06 AM on January 3, 2005

Car insurance usually covers windshield replacement. I have mine replaced every few years, whether or not there are significant cracks. Particles of rock and sand create small pits or craters over the life of a windshield, gradually reducing visibility. A windshield shouldn't last the car's lifetime. You should replace it just like you'd change the oil or rotate the tires, albeit less often.

And it's worth noting, whether or not you have car insurance, this is a really stupid area to be stingy. Buy a cheaper pair of sneakers, or cut a couple coupons. People who cut corners on auto safety to save a few dollars are risking their lives -- and, more importantly, others' lives. They shouldn't be driving.
posted by cribcage at 9:10 AM on January 3, 2005

Note that claiming this on your auto insurance raises your risk to your insurance company, and will, after a couple of claims, decrease your insurability (and therefore increase your rates). Since this isn't an at fault claim, I expect the actual item getting the "black mark" would either be your insurance zone or your vehicle. So, at least you could probably fix either by moving or getting a different vehicle. Maybe.

Depending on how terrible the insurance companies in your area are, this might not be a terrible risk to you. I know in my area, for any problems under $1,000 it's simply cheaper not to let your insurance company know (Insurance rates here for "good" drivers are around $1,000 - $2,000 a year for basic coverage, and increase *sharply* from there [speaking from experience]).
posted by shepd at 9:52 AM on January 3, 2005

A windshield shouldn't last the car's lifetime. You should replace it just like you'd change the oil or rotate the tires, albeit less often.

Your windshield is an important structural component of your car and plays a major role in body rigidity and, thus, handling and ride. Therefore you should leave the original one in place as long as possible. No replacement windshield is as good as the one installed at the factory.

I suppose that if you have to replace it for one reason or another, you could continue to replace it periodically thereafter. But if you live in an area where the transparency of your windshield is noticeably degraded over the life of the car, I would suggest moving. You're breathing all that whatever-it-is that's fouling your windshield, after all.
posted by kindall at 10:32 AM on January 3, 2005

I've had some luck with clear nailpolish. It prevents air from getting in from the outside, or so the windshield repair guy told me.
posted by euphorb at 12:00 PM on January 3, 2005

Prices at windshield glass shops seem to be quite negotiable. Never hurts to ask.
posted by theora55 at 12:19 PM on January 3, 2005

I've never had any luck with cracks being stopped with epoxy, even when done professionally they always seem to keep going. One thing that has worked for me in the past is just pushing the crack by pressing on the glass with my thumb and directing it to the edge so it doesn't spread any futher.

If you live in areas where the city spreads gravel on snow, you'll know that winshields ARE replaceable and that the advice given above that "No replacement windshield is as good as the one installed at the factory" isn't true.

Perhaps if you're paying $150 at a fly-by-night but not if you're doing it a reputable shop.
posted by jeffmik at 1:42 PM on January 3, 2005

Kindall's reply is ridiculous. It's been 30 years since "factory-installed" implied better quality.

Every windshield will suffer from reduced visibility over a length of time. It's a well-known effect called "hazing." Certainly its effect is more noticeable in New England (due to wintertime salt and sanding), but it happens in California just the same. It has nothing to do with breatheable toxins, and anyone familiar with automobile repair will snicker at someone who suggests, "If your windshield hazes, you should probably move."

But then, if you believe your windshield installation "plays a major role" in your car's handling and ride...well, that boat has probably already sailed.
posted by cribcage at 2:19 PM on January 3, 2005

Kindall obviously lives someplace where any amount of snow is a storm of the century event. A windshield every 3-4 years is probably average for anyone who does much driving around here. And I once did the same car three times in two weeks because of rock damage. In BC a star in front of the driver is a ticketable offence and ICBC comprehensive used to cover glass with only a $50 deductable.
posted by Mitheral at 2:25 PM on January 3, 2005

Depending on where the crack is, you can take the edge of credit card, and apply some pressure to help the crack along, but instead of continuing the crack in a straight line, bend it towards the closest edge of the window. When you reach the end of the glass it can't spread any more. I've never done this myself but I've watched someone do it, and it did the trick. YMMV. Of course I'll accept no responsibility for any disastrous consequences.
posted by Buzz at 2:36 PM on January 3, 2005

Um, yeah... kinda like how jeffmik described it above. I missed that. I think using a credit card may be easier than using your thumb, but when I said the edge of a credit card, I meant the corner. Concentrated force application. Dang.
posted by Buzz at 2:57 PM on January 3, 2005

Windshields generally just aren't that expensive to replace. Even an S-Class Mercedes windshield is only about $250 (US glass) and $400 (German OEM glass). Were it me, I'd replace it.
posted by bz at 3:36 PM on January 3, 2005

I just had to replace the rear windshield of my Geo and it cost $500. What a hoot. For another windshield, I was told that putting scotch tape under the crack somehow arrested it. Didn't work.
posted by moonbird at 3:58 PM on January 3, 2005

I'd also recommend, to someone looking at buying a new vehicle, that you find out if the vehicle has built-in front windshield defrosters or rain-detecting equipment. These "options" usually make OEM dealership windshield replacement mandatory - at a cost closer to $1000 (Toyota Highlanders are like this)
posted by jeffmik at 4:22 PM on January 3, 2005

It's been 30 years since "factory-installed" implied better quality.

It's not better-quality glass. It's better installed. A replacement windshield simply can't provide the structural support of the original glass. (The windshield provides up to a quarter of the rigidity of a modern car's cabin and helps prevent roof collapse in accidents.)

The factory windshield is installed by a robot and perfectly bonded to clean steel. Any reputable auto-glass shop will tell you that you should repair a cracked windshield if possible, rather than replacing it, even though the replacement would be more profitable for them. Indeed, this is a good way to tell whether a given auto-glass shop is any good.

If your auto-glass shop is competent, they can get almost as good a bond on a new windshield as on the factory one. But a lot of shops take shortcuts that significantly weaken the bond and can lead to leaks, mold, and premature cracking. In a rollover, your roof might collapse, crushing all occupants, if the windshield is not installed properly. Can you tell by looking whether they did it right?

Kindall obviously lives someplace where any amount of snow is a storm of the century event.

I lived in Ohio and Michigan up until I was 32, and I never knew anyone who had to replace their windshield on a regular basis because it had become difficult to see through! Hell, my dad drives a 30-year-old Toyota pickup with the original glass in it. It's fine.
posted by kindall at 4:42 PM on January 3, 2005

Are you talking CRACKED or CHIPPED? I have never seen a shop that will guarantee a cracked windshield - and almost any shop who does CRACK repairs will candidly admit that it has a fairly low success rate. Chips are a whole different story though and for $10 can usually be filled.

I'm in Calgary where the city uses gravel for traction instead of salt and sand mixtures. Rather than our cars rusting out beneath us, we have to deal with paint chips and rock cracks on our windshields - almost any regular driver in the city will go through a windshield every couple years. Even without full on cracks in the glas, they get pitted enough that they need replacement because of the kaleidoscope effect when you have oncoming sun.
posted by jeffmik at 5:42 PM on January 3, 2005

I don't know what make of car you have, but quite often you can get an `as new' windshield at a good price from a wrecker. A car which has been written off from a smash in the side or rear will often have a perfectly good front windscreen.

While not precisely what you're looking for, it might save you some dollars in the future.
posted by tomble at 10:41 PM on January 3, 2005

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