How to tell if your chipped windscreen needs professional attention

Noticing any kind of damage to your vehicle can be a heart-sinking moment.  Owning a car is a massive expense at the best of times, with insurance, car tax, petrol, servicing, parking charges and MOTs, not to mention the constant worry that something could go wrong with it at any point, sometimes the cost can feel endless.  If a small chip appears in the windscreen you may feel it’s not a problem and be tempted to leave it to avoid digging deep into your pockets for a repair or replacement.  But don’t be tempted to bury your head in the sand and ignore the damage or it could end up costing you a lot more in the long run.

Should I seek advice from a professional?

No matter how minor the damage is to your windscreen it is important to remember that it can be a safety risk having a chip or crack.  Damage to the windscreen can obstruct your vision of the road when driving and be a distraction.  It is particularly dangerous to have damage to your windscreen if it is located directly in front of the driver’s seat.

It can be tempting to leave the damage to your vehicle if it is just a small chip.  But remember that a small chip to the windscreen can often be repaired relatively cheaply by a professional and won’t need a full windscreen replacement.  But if you leave the chip for a period of time before getting it fixed then there’s a good chance that the damage will worsen beyond repair due to further wear from moisture, frost and dirt and you’ll end up having to fork out for a full replacement instead of a repair.  So it is in your best interests to get the damage looked at as soon as possible.

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How bad is the damage to my windscreen?

When a professional looks at the damage to your windscreen they will judge whether it needs a full replacement or just a repair by looking at both the severity of the damage and its location.  They work from a diagram showing that any damage located in ‘zone A’, which is directly in front of the driver’s seat can often be repaired if it is 10mm in length or smaller.  Damage elsewhere on the windscreen of up to 40mm in length can be repaired depending on the severity of the damage.  Anything larger will result in a full windscreen replacement.  These rules will also apply if you take your car for an MOT with damage to the windscreen, any damage over the specified length or a bad crack or chip would result in your car failing its MOT.

DIY Kits

If the damage to your windscreen is very minor and you’re not able to take your car in to see a professional immediately it is possible to buy DIY windscreen repair kits as a short term solution.  If the damage is anything more than a very minor chip then one of these repair kits may not be effective and just end up costing you more.  The kits contain equipment for you to clean the damaged area and inject resin into the chip, they are good for a temporary patch-up job if the damage is very minor, but are not as effective as a professional repair.

How much will a repair or replacement cost me?

Depending on what kind of insurance you have prices can vary.  If you are covered by fully comprehensive insurance then you don’t have anything to worry about, repairs are usually free and car windscreen replacements only cost you the price of your excess.  If you don’t have any insurance cover for your windscreen then prices will vary depending on the type of car and windscreen you have and you’ll need to get a quote from a professional.  It is possible to get some great value car windscreen replacement deals though if you shop around and put in a bit of time.

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So don’t be too disheartened if your windscreen becomes damaged, it doesn’t always have to cost the world to get it fixed.  Although it can often feel like a big inconvenience when something goes wrong with your car it is important not to lose sight of the importance of ensuring the safety of you and your passengers on the road.

Author: Sarah Hewitt. You can contact her via her Twitter page or Google+.