Many drivers focus on the condition of their windshields, but a vehicle’s side windows are just as important to safe driving. Window damage becomes dangerous when it interferes with your peripheral field-of-vision or when it interferes with your ability to focus on driving. While it may be tempting to postpone repairs if the damage seems minor, it’s important to know that cracked, chipped or broken car windows can present real risks. In many states, you can be ticketed if a police officer deems your broken window to be unsafe.
Here’s everything you need to know about car window repair.
WHAT TO DO IF YOUR CAR WINDOW WON’T ROLL UP OR DOWN
Window regulators are the mechanism that allows you to raise or lower your car windows. Whether your window regulators are powered by buttons or old-school manual hand-cranks, they are subject to high wear and tear (especially the driver’s window) and can stop working from age or excessive use. There are other common causes of window regulator failure: faulty switches, damaged window tracks, broken cables, worn out pulleys and cable lines, and exposure to moisture. A professional technician at your local auto glass shop can diagnose the problem with your regulator and repair it.
Although a window that can’t roll up or down may not seem like an urgent issue, especially if the window is already rolled up, remember that a broken window regulator could interfere with your ability or the ability of your passengers to exit your vehicle if you are trapped inside in the moments following a collision, so you shouldn’t delay getting it repaired.
WHAT TO DO WHEN YOUR CAR WINDOW IS DAMAGED OR SHATTERED
If your car window has a small chip or crack, the damage can spread over time, leading to more expensive repairs and potentially a full auto glass replacement. Weather can make window damage worse. Like with cracked windshields, moisture can drip into the chip or crack on a car window, and cold temperatures can cause the moisture to freeze and expand, making the crack spread.
If your window is already cracked when you get into an accident, the glass is more likely to shatter during a collision.
HERE ARE STEPS TO TAKE WHEN YOUR WINDOW GETS SHATTERED:
- Take photos and video of the damage. This is a key first step before beginning cleanup, especially if the broken car window is a result of an accident or burglary, because you will need to document the damage for insurance and law enforcement purposes.
- Contact your auto insurance provider and file a police report. If your car window is damaged as a result of an accident, burglary, or a natural disaster like a tornado, it may be covered by your auto insurance. Some law enforcement agencies will come out and file a police report in the case of accidents and burglaries. After natural disasters, some first responders will provide an incident report if you call them from a non-emergency line within a few days or weeks of the event.
- Clean up the glass. The most effective way to clean up shattered glass is to use a shop vacuum to suction it off of the interior of the vehicle. Remove as much as you can, but rest assured that your local auto glass shop will likely vacuum the car before they return it to you in an effort to restore it to pre-incident condition.
- Cover the window. Once you’ve cleaned up as much glass as possible, you will need to secure the window to protect the interior of your car until the window can be repaired. If you anticipate having to drive the vehicle before the window is repaired, you will need to use something that doesn’t obstruct your field-of-vision – we recommend clear packing tape and transparent plastic, such as a shower curtain liner.
SHOULD YOU REPAIR OR REPLACE YOUR BROKEN CAR WINDOW?
Auto Glass Repair
Auto glass repair is a quick, cost-effective solution if the crack or chip on your car window is small enough. Generally, chips smaller than the size of a quarter and cracks less than three inches long can be repaired. Anything larger will likely require a full replacement. A quality auto glass repair can prevent a chip or crack from spreading and help hide the original damage without having to remove the original glass. You’ll need to act quickly to get an auto glass repair, otherwise replacement may become your only option because driving with a cracked car window can cause the damage to spread.
An auto glass repair is a simple procedure that typically takes less than an hour: the technician uses a small suction vacuum to remove any moisture or other matter from the crack and injects resin to fill it. If done properly, window crack repair can be a safe and permanent solution to a damaged piece of auto glass.
Auto Glass Replacement
Auto glass replacement is typically more expensive than an auto glass repair, but it is often the best way to make sure that your vehicle is safe to drive. The location of the window damage can play a factor in determining whether or not you’ll need an auto glass repair or replacement. Depending on where the crack is located, it can compromise the structural integrity of the glass. If the damage is in the line of site of the driver, the auto glass shop may recommend a full replacement even if it’s a small chip, because auto glass repair can sometimes leave minor distortions in the glass. If a crack or chip is deep enough to penetrate the clear layer of plastic that prevents window glass from shattering, they will likely recommend a full replacement as well.
GET YOUR WINDOW REPAIRED AT AN AUTO GLASS SHOP NEAR YOU
A professional technician at your local auto glass repair shop will be able to inspect and assess the damage to your car window and help you determine the best method of repair or replacement.