Repair Or Replace: Which Is Best For A Damaged Windshield?

These factors can help you decide on replacement or repair. 
Close-up broken car windshield on the driver side

Owning a car comes with its fair share of expenses on repair and replacements. One part that can give you a dilemma on whether to replace or repair is the car’s windshield—knowing which option to go for can depend on factors like visibility, safety, depth, and position of the damage. 

However, it’s recommended to visit your auto repair shop for a better assessment. Depending on your location, you may get auto repair shops specializing in windshield repair and replacement. For example, if you’re in Phoenix, Arizona, you can search for an auto glass shop in Phoenix and seek an expert assessment of the extent of the damage.  

If you can’t immediately get such an assessment, the below factors can help you decide on replacement or repair. 

  • Safety 

Most windshields are made using laminated glass. This glass doesn’t shatter into pieces in case of an accident, thus improving your safety. Given that car manufacturers consider your safety as an end-user, it’s vital that you also take your safety as a priority. 

If your windshield gets a crack or is damaged at some point, you should repair or replace it immediately. The reason is that the damage can affect the structural integrity of the windshield glass. Therefore, it may not protect you in case you get into an accident. If the damage is on the corners or in the middle, it may be more advisable to replace the windshield instead of having it repaired. 

  • Location Of The Damage 

Given that the windshield has a large surface area without any metal support, any crack, or chip can affect its strength, although damage on some parts may not affect its structural integrity. The windshield’s strength is along the edges as these are the areas in contact with the metal frame. Therefore, replacing the windshield is advisable if you get a chip or crack near the edges or corners. 

Furthermore, the middle of the windshield is also one of its weak points. A crack in this area can make it more vulnerable and cave in even from a fender-bender. Overall, the edges and the center of the windshield should be your areas of primary concern whenever they get damaged. Replacing them is more advisable than trying to repair them. 

In some modern cars, the windshield is fitted with electronic sensors that help improve its safety. Some manufacturers can embed them in the windshield, sensors for automatic braking, driver-assistance systems, windshield warmers, and self-parking. As such, if there are cracks on the windshield, it may affect the effectiveness of these technologies. Therefore, while looking at the repair option, your auto shop can help determine if these sensors are affected by the damage.

  • Visibility 

Driving competency is an essential factor for safe driving. Therefore, it’s vital to ensure that the damage on your windshield doesn’t create unnecessary blind spots. If the crack or damage impairs your line of vision, then repairing it may not be safe enough. It’s important to note that some repairs may create distortion when looking through the windshield. This may affect your judgment on the distance to objects in front of you. Thus, there’s a need for replacement instead of repair.

  • Depth 

As mentioned earlier, the windshield is made of laminated glass. This means that it has more than one sheet of material for added strength and durability. It has an outer layer and an inner layer of glass sandwiching a thermoplastic material, polyvinyl butyral (PVB). Therefore, when your windshield is hit from the outside, the outer layer will crack, and depending on the force, it can penetrate the PVB onto the inner layer. In any case, the glasses will crack and not shatter due to the PVB material holding them together. 

If the damage affects the outer layer only, you can go to your auto repair shop for it to be repaired. However, if the damage goes through the PVB and cracks the inner glass layer, it’s prudent to replace it because it loses its strength. Not to mention that once the structural integrity is compromised, it can be fatal even in minor accidents. 

Therefore, while you may want to repair the damaged area, replacement might be the best option, especially if it has gone through the PVB layer. Furthermore, if you replace it, you won’t drive while second-guessing the safety provision of the windshield. 


Even though some damage may count as small from a casual point of view, the extent of their effect can jeopardize your overall safety. Thus, while you may want a quick in and out repair job at the auto shop, it’s vital to assess the damage well. If the damage affects your line of vision and has gone through at least the two layers of the windshield, it wouldn’t be safe to repair it. Furthermore, replacement would be the best option if the damage also affects the windshield’s structural integrity.

Emily Muelford
Emily is a British writer whose love of car culture is augmented by a fascination with both the European and American automotive markets. Her perspective is uniquely fish and chips.