Little cracks can grow into big headaches. If your windscreen has been damaged, acting quickly may save you a lot of trouble — and money — later.
What causes windscreen damage?
Unfortunately, it can be easier than you think to damage a windscreen, with a number of causes, including:
Sudden impact damage. Cracks and ‘bull’s eyes’ may be caused by your own car or another vehicle throwing up rocks or gravel from the road that hit your windscreen. Although they’re not a huge visual distraction if isolated, when left unrepaired, the damage can spread.
Hail storms. A storm only needs to be short to do severe damage. Major blows to your windscreen as a result of hail can cause multiple chips and cracks in your screen — and even threaten the overall structural strength of your windscreen.
Wear and tear. All windscreens suffer gradual degradation, through being continuously hit by small particles such as sand and dirt, and being scratched by windscreen wipers. Studies suggest that the fine scratches and chips caused by wear and tear, while less conspicuous, pose the most significant visual problem for drivers.1
Soiling. You may not realise it, but unless you regularly clean the grime from your windscreen it may become scratched and damaged — particularly when combined with the movement of windscreen wipers.
Should you repair or replace your windscreen?
Generally, when windscreen damage only affects the outer layer of glass, the car is usually safe to drive. But if the chip or crack isn’t repaired right away, it can easily get bigger. The vibrations and jolts caused by car movements, high speeds, potholes or even your stereo, as well as changes in car temperature, can all cause cracks to spread or chips to widen.
And a chip or crack that impacts on the driver’s view might also see your car fail a roadworthiness inspection.
The first thing to do is assess the damage, including its:
Location. Damage can generally be repaired if it isn’t in the driver’s line of vision, or within about five centimetres from the edge of the windshield.
Size. If the damage is smaller than two centimetres in diameter, it can usually be repaired.
How much does it cost?
Taking immediate action following windscreen damage will mean there is a higher chance your windscreen can be repaired, rather than replaced — saving you time and money in the long run. A repair can cost around $100, depending on the extent of the damage, while a full replacement might cost upwards of $300 plus the cost of installation.
Remember, many car insurance policies don’t include no-excess windscreen damage as standard — so, depending on your cover, you may end up having to foot the bill.
5 tips for protecting your windscreen
1 Monash University Accident Research Centre, Windscreens and Safety: A Review, 2001
Clean your windscreen regularly, both inside and out.
Check your windscreen often for chips and cracks, so you can do something about them straight away.
Replace your windscreen wipers regularly, to prevent scraping damage to your windscreen.
If your windscreen is cracked, place tape over it to keep dirt out — but get it fixed as soon as possible.
Get insurance with optional cover for windscreen claims — you won’t pay any excess on repairs or replacements. See our Insurance options.
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