Car Windscreen Chip Repair

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Why repair and not replace?

Replacing your screen should always be your last resort

If you’re still wondering why it’s better to repair, rather than replace, take a quick look at our simple guide, and we’ll explain the reasons why you should only ever opt for a replacement if it’s absolutely necessary - and even if you’ve already been told that your screen cannot be repaired, read on, as that is not always the case.

Safety first - for you, and your car!

The best windscreen fitting that your vehicle will ever have, is the one it received in the factory when it was being built. Having your screen repaired preserves this factory seal, preventing the risk of rust, wind noise, and any potential leaks!

Why is this important for safety? Your car windscreen contributes significantly to the strength and integrity of the vehicle, particularly in the event of a rollover or a front-end collision. It helps prevent the roof from collapsing and maintains the structure of the vehicle cabin. If you’re unlucky enough to need your airbag, the windscreen aids in its proper deployment, acting as a backstop that helps the airbag deploy towards you, ensuring the intended protection is provided during a collision.

Almost as important as your safety, depending on how much you love your car, is avoiding any unnecessary risk of vehicle damage. Removing a car windscreen is no mean feat. It involves cutting through the original factory seal, sometimes using power tools, with great care needing to be taken to prevent damage to the paintwork, as well as the sensors, cameras and electrical components that now feature in most modern cars.

Having your windscreen chip repaired means that your screen stays put, and neither your safety, nor that of your beloved car are put at risk.

Let’s talk about costs and convenience

Nobody likes to spend money unnecessarily, especially on something as boring as repairing a car windscreen! If your car insurance policy doesn’t cover you for damage to your glass, then it goes without saying that if a repair is possible, it will save you a significant amount of time and money. Even when your policy does include cover for your screen, the cost of your excess for a replacement is still likely to be higher than having your windscreen chip or crack repaired.

It’s worth pointing out that the repair prices quoted by some of the national automotive glass companies can be far higher than the cost of your insurance excess for a replacement. This is due to their businesses being historically geared towards providing replacement services, meaning it isn’t always financially viable for them to carry out a less profitable repair, even when it is actually possible. When you’re presented with these prices, it can seem tempting to opt for a new screen, but remember, a repair should not be prohibitively expensive, so don’t be upsold to an unnecessary replacement.

Whilst cost is a huge factor, saving time is also a priority for most people. Rather than waiting up to two hours for your screen replacement and calibration, a chip repair can be carried out in as little as 20 minutes. Furthermore, unlike a replacement, a repair cures instantly, so you’ll be able to drive your car away immediately.

Doing your bit for the environment

Due to the high temperatures required, glass production is a significant contributor to carbon dioxide emissions worldwide. While a replacement windscreen may be sat on a shelf ready for installation, for each one installed, another will need producing. Making matters worse, due to the glass being laminated - effectively a sandwich of glass and vinyl - the old windscreen cannot be easily recycled, with many ending up in landfill.

Windscreen chip repairs generate a fraction of this waste, and use very little energy, with thousands of repairs resulting in less environmental impact than a single windscreen replacement.

Knowing what can and can’t be repaired

Sadly, it isn’t always possible to carry out a windscreen repair. If your windscreen is cracked or has damage in certain critical areas, then unfortunately, a replacement is unavoidable. However, it’s important that you know the facts, understand what can and can’t be repaired, and avoid being sold a replacement windscreen when you don’t need one.

In March 2022, The British Standards Institute (BSI) updated the regulations regarding the code of practice for windscreen repairs. Your car windscreen is split into two main zones; the A Zone, and the B Zone, plus another area we’ll come to shortly. The A Zone is the area directly in front of the driver and is 400mm wide and centred on the steering wheel. The upper and lower extremities of this zone are determined by the arc of the driver’s side windscreen wiper. The B Zone is quite simply everything else, apart from the third and final area.

Many modern cars are fitted with various driver aids, such as adaptive headlighting, and lane departure warning, for example. These are known in the industry as ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems), and they use cameras and sensors which are usually located at the top of your car windscreen, behind the rear view mirror. No repair work can be performed in this area, without exception. In the A and B Zones, whether or not a repair can be carried out depends on the size of the damage in question. For the A Zone, it is recommended that the damage should be no larger than 20mm in diameter. For example, if you can hide the damage with a 1 pence coin, then it can be repaired. For the B Zone, the recommendations state a maximum size of 40mm can be repaired.

If the damage to your car windscreen is either in the ADAS area, or is larger than the recommended maximum size for repair, then it is quite likely that you will need your windscreen replaced. However, if you are unsure, any of our Optic-Kleer operators will be more than happy to advise you.

How all repairs are not equal

Now we know what can and can’t be repaired, let’s discuss how to repair it. There are two main methods of repairing chipped and cracked car windscreens, and they either use displacement or a vacuum to inject the resin into the damaged area. Both methods aim to achieve the same goal, yet there are subtle but important differences between the two.

The repair process works by injecting a resin into the chip or crack, which is then cured using UV light, resulting in it hardening, much like glass. When using the displacement method, the resin is forced into the damaged area, with the idea being that any air in the breakage is displaced. However, the drawback is that air can sometimes be trapped in the extremities of the chip, ruining the visual quality of the repair and reducing its integrity. You will often find this repair method being used by highstreet retailers or businesses that offer windscreen repairs as a secondary service, rather than a speciality.

At Optic-Kleer we only use the vacuum method, and have tooling specifically developed for this purpose. The main difference with this approach is that before the repair is started, all air is removed from the break, and then the laws of physics take care of the rest. Due to the absence of air, the repair resin is drawn directly into the damaged area, ensuring a complete fill. This achieves the highest visual clarity and maximum possible strength to the repaired area.

Still unsure? We’re here to help

You shouldn’t have to be an expert on car windscreens, but hopefully our guide has answered a few questions that you may have had. As with most things in life, there can often be grey areas, or you may simply feel that you’re not receiving the right advice. If that’s the case, come and speak to a windscreen repair professional, preferably before you have yours replaced - you would be amazed at how many people come to speak to us afterwards when it’s too late!

Find your nearest Optic-Kleer operator, and we’ll happily advise you. If we can’t repair your windscreen for you, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that you’ve made an informed choice, and you won’t be incurring any unnecessary expense or inconvenience.

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