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Can a 12-inch crack in windshield be repaired?

August 22, 2023

Windshields play a critical role in the safety and structural integrity of a vehicle. They are not just to fend off wind, rain, and bugs; they contribute to the car’s rigidity and help in the deployment of airbags. When a windshield develops a crack, especially one as significant as 12 inches, it raises concerns over both safety and aesthetics.

How Windshield Cracks Occur:

Cracks in windshields can arise from various sources. Common culprits include:

  • Impact: Debris, such as small stones, can get propelled by other vehicles, leading to chipping or
    cracking.
  • Thermal Stress: Sudden temperature changes, such as pouring hot water on an icy windshield,
    can cause it to crack.
  • Structural Weakness: Manufacturing defects or poor installation can make the windshield more
    susceptible to cracking.
  • Accidents: Collisions, even minor ones, can cause significant damage to the windshield.

A 12-inch crack suggests a considerable force or structural compromise. Such a crack doesn’t only impair visibility; it also jeopardizes the safety of the vehicle and its occupants.

To Repair or Replace:

Conventional wisdom and general industry standards typically suggest that small chips (usually under an inch in diameter) and minor cracks (typically under three inches) can be successfully repaired. However, once a crack exceeds this size, replacement is often recommended. But can a 12-inch crack be repaired?

Depth and Location of the Crack:

The depth of the crack, as well as its location on the windshield, are essential factors to consider. If the crack has penetrated deep into the windshield or is near the edge, the structural integrity of the windshield might be compromised, making repair risky.

The Type of Crack:

Not all cracks are the same. A ‘star break’ or a ‘bullseye’ might be easier to repair compared to a ‘combination break’ or a long ‘edge crack.’ The more complex the crack, the harder it becomes to ensure a reliable repair.

Aesthetic Concerns:

Even if a long crack can be stabilized, it might still be visible post-repair. While this doesn’t pose a safety concern, it might be unsightly, particularly on a large and clear field like the windshield.

Safety and Longevity:

A repair might offer a temporary solution, but the crack might continue to grow over time, especially under thermal or physical stress. It’s essential to weigh the potential short-lived nature of a repair against the peace of mind and longevity of a replacement.

Cost:

Repairing a windshield, even one with a sizable crack, is almost always more affordable than replacing the entire windshield. For individuals without comprehensive insurance coverage, or those with high deductibles, this cost factor can be a significant consideration. However, it’s essential to remember that a compromised windshield can lead to higher costs in the event of an accident.

Environmental Impact:

The automotive industry has been increasingly under scrutiny for its environmental footprint. Repairing windshields reduces the demand for new glass production, which, in turn, decreases energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, by repairing rather than replacing, we reduce the amount of non-biodegradable waste in landfills, as discarded windshields often end up there.

Time Factor:

A repair can often be completed faster than a full replacement, allowing the vehicle owner to get back on the road sooner. This timesaving can be crucial for those with tight schedules or professional commitments.

While safety should remain the paramount consideration, it’s beneficial to weigh the economic and environmental implications when deciding on repairing versus replacing a windshield with a significant crack.

The Repair Process:

If a technician assesses the windshield and deems it repairable, the process typically involves:

  • Cleaning the crack to remove any debris.
  • Injecting a special resin into the crack.
  • Curing the resin using ultraviolet light.
  • Polishing the surface to restore clarity.

This process can effectively halt the spread of a crack and restore a significant portion of the windshield’s strength. However, for a 12-inch crack, the repair process is more intricate and time-consuming. It also requires exceptional skill to ensure the resin is injected evenly throughout the entire length of the crack.

Takeaway

In theory, a 12-inch crack in a windshield can be repaired. However, several factors, including the type, depth, and location of the crack, come into play. While technological advancements in repair techniques and materials have made it possible to mend longer cracks than before, the reality is that a crack of such length is on the cusp of what many professionals would consider repairable. Safety should always be a top priority. If there’s any doubt about the integrity of the repair or if the crack’s location poses a visual obstruction, replacement is the safer and more reliable option.

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