The windshield repair technician’s primary goal is to keep the damage from cracking further, resulting in the need for a more costly windshield replacement. A quality repair performed by an experienced technician should leave the windshield 100% structurally restored to pre-damaged condition. The cosmetic result, however, will depend on a multitude of factors.
1. The extent of the damage.
Typically, but not always, the more extensive the damage, the more visible the result will be. While glass can be repaired 100% structurally, it will usually repair 75-80% cosmetically. Fractured glass, even when repaired, will no longer refract light the way it did before it was damaged. Also, when the rock hits, it shatters the surface glass and propels it inward. This too, can lead to a more visible repair.
2. The length of time the damage has been there.
A rock chip treated soon after it occurs will almost always look much better than one that has been there for months or even years. The impact of a rock or debris that has caused windshield damage, leaves an open hole into the windshield. This entry point allows dirt, debris, and moisture to accumulate over time, and it is very difficult, sometimes impossible, to remove. I often advise customers to cover the rock chip with a piece of clear packing tape (the kind used to ship a package) immediately after the rock chip occurs. This helps to effectively keep anything from getting into the damaged area.
3. Miscellaneous Circumstances.
Often vehicle owners will try to treat rock chips with “home remedies” and do-it-yourself kits. Common home remedies include: Crazy Glue, clear nail polish, and Gorilla Glue. None of them work, and most often they ruin the windshield. The technician can’t get the glue out of the rock chip and so there is no way to complete the repair process. I call do-it-yourself kits, “one shots.” On a very superficial rock chip with no complications, the home repair kits will sometimes take care of it. You only get one chance (“one shot”) though with a do-it-yourself kit. If it works on the first try, you have lucked out. Most often, however, a rock chip repair requires several fill and vacuum cycles. Resin is injected and then air, dirt and debris is removed, and then another pressure cycle to add more resin, etc. Sometimes this procedure is repeated three or even four times before the repair is completed. Only professional windshield repair tools will allow for this. Windshield repair is not one of those things you can “just do.” You have to know what you are doing or you risk irreparable damage.
Often customers show up thinking that their primary goal is to save their windshield, and the secondary goal is how the windshield will look once it is repaired. After the repair, we often find that the cosmetic result was actually more important to the customer than saving the windshield was.
In short, what can you expect from a windshield repair? A technician should only accept the job if they feel the repair can be completed successfully. This means that the technician has determined that the result will leave the windshield 100% structurally restored. The customer should expect that small, superficial damage will appear approximately 75-80% better cosmetically once it has been repaired. That’s it. While larger, more extensive damage sometimes falls into that 75-80% range, there is no guarantee that it will. If the visible, cosmetic result of more extensive damage is not something you are prepared to live with, you are not a candidate for a windshield repair, You are more likely looking for a windshield replacement.