Is a DIY Windscreen Repair Worth It?
A cracked windscreen is probably one of the most annoying, irksome, frustrating forms of damage that can happen to your vehicle. Often no fault of your own, windscreen damage can occur at any time. Far-flung stones or falling debris missiles can appear out of nowhere.
Damage to your windscreen is a surefire way to ruin your day. On average, this inconvenience occurs every five years at least. For those that drive a lot – it happens much more frequently. It’s for this reason that repairing a windscreen is largely considered a ‘grudge’ expense. It’s a cost and inconvenience that people are often annoyed about having to fork out their hard-earned dollars for.
I’m sure you’ve considered saving a few bucks with a DIY windscreen repair; but is it actually that easy? Is it worth the hassle? Do you really save that much money? And most importantly, is it safe?
First, let’s discuss the steps involved in a DIY windscreen fix.
DIY Windscreen Chip Repair Steps
Where do you start? Straight away is good. It’s risky business leaving even the most minor of windscreen damage untreated. If you’re putting off repair just to save a few dollars, you could find yourself in a sticky situation where minor problems quickly worsen and render your windscreen beyond repair. Procrastinating about whether or not you can fix the problem DIY can prove very costly if you wind up needing a full replacement.
Here’s what you should do the moment you notice the damage.
1. Closely Assess the Damage
Firstly, you’ll need to get a good close look at the damage. Use a mirror on the inside of the windscreen and view it from all angles. If you’re dealing with a crack, observe whether or not the crack is located near the edge of the windscreen, as this can compromise the structure of your vehicle. Cracks from the edge of your windscreen require a replacement rather than a repair to ensure your safety. This is the conclusion you’ll get from all windscreen repair companies.
If you’re assessing a chip or crack in the centre of the windshield, check that it isn’t located in the driver’s line of sight. It’s best to replace a windscreen when damage has occurred in the drivers line of vision.
Other factors to consider when deciding if you should repair or replace your windscreen include the depth and size of the damage. As a very general rule, if a stone chip exceeds the size of a 50c coin, you can consider it beyond repair, and cracks 15cm or more in length are generally too big to repair.
If you’ve decided you’re going to have a crack at DIY windscreen repair, it’s time to get yourself a repair kit. But which one should you choose?
2. Purchase a bridge-style windshield repair kit.
You can purchase a repair kit from an auto parts store or online.
It is recommended to purchase a kit that includes a “bridge” applicator. This style of applicator fastens to the glass, making it much more stable than a syringe applicator. Take your time getting familiar with the applicator and how to operate it.
3. Thoroughly clean and dry the windscreen
Before you attempt repair, ensure that your car windscreen is completely dry and clean. This is essential to avoid trapping any water or debris within the repair. This is another important reason to fix chips and cracks straight away; the longer they are left, the more likely they are to collect dust, dirt and grime, making them very difficult to clean and effectively repair.
4. Repair in the right conditions
You’ll be filling in the damage with a resin that requires ultraviolet light to set or cure. If you don’t have a UV lamp to speed up this process, you’ll need to wait for a sunny day. Try to shade the windscreen until you’re ready to apply the resin so you’re not dealing with a red hot surface and can work at a reasonable pace.
How to apply the resin
5. If your impact is tight, make a small hole
If you have a tight impact, you may require an incision with a fine drill. This incision will allow the resin to flow easily into the cracks. This step has the greatest risk of creating more damage to the windscreen, so be cautious. This step is only necessary when repairing a long crack that doesn’t end with a circular or semicircular hole.
6. Get to know your applicator
Follow the instructions carefully. There are many different models, make sure you’re 100% on where you’re required to load the resin. Keep in mind you should only need a few drops of resin in most cases. The majority of repair kits come with two types of resin – one to repair cracks and the other to fill chips – choose which resin you’ll need for your particular repair. Syringe applicators usually have a simple piston system, while the preferred bridge applicators might have various unique application mechanisms. Ensure you’re across the operation before you attempt a direct repair.
7. Apply the resin
Position the resin applicator. If you’re using a syringe applicator, hold it steady against the end of the crack. If you’ve chosen a bridge applicator, you should cover the suction cups with a good layer of lubricant – which should be included in your kit – if not, you can use Vaseline. Position the suction cups so the tip of the applicator is hovering over the end of the crack or centre of the chip. Once you initiate the application, the piston is put under pressure which then forces the resin between the layers of glass. This fills cracks and removes any air bubbles.
8. When the cracks are filled
When the cracks have been removed, a final resin is applied. This final resin replaces any glass that was lost from the initial impact. Chips and dents should be filled with the thicker resin. You’ll need to thoroughly clean the applicator before filling with the different resin.
9. Let the resin cure
Cover the resin with curing strips or curing tabs. This keeps the resin in place as it cures and protects it from environmental factors. Leave your car in direct sunlight for anywhere between 30-120 minutes, allowing the resin to properly set.
Is a DIY repair as safe as a professional job?
Well, as long as you have done the following:
- Made the right decision about repair rather than a replacement to ensure your safety
- Accurately gauged the type of resin and repair required
- Purchased a good brand of DIY repair kit with top quality resin
- Cleaned and dried the windscreen thoroughly
- Followed the instructions closely and used the correct technique
- Completed the job carefully and allowed enough time for the resin to set
- The repair has reduced the appearance of the damage almost completely
If you’re confident about all the above, you should be okay; but it’s worth asking yourself this question; if you had done this repair for someone else…would you be comfortable giving them a lifetime guarantee on your work?
Bottom Line, is DIY worth it?
DIY repair kits may seem like a cheaper and easier alternative to professional windscreen repair, but many people underestimate how fiddly and time-consuming it can actually be. Without the proper tools, lighting, experience, technique and quality products on hand, you could be unwittingly creating more problems for yourself. And how much is your time worth? No, you don’t have to be an expert to repair auto glass; but you have to do a professional job to ensure your safety.
With the mobile service that Novus offers, we can come to you at work, home, or out on the road. It’s hard to beat that sort of convenience, speed and peace of mind. And a lifetime guarantee on your repair? You can’t ask for more really. All in all, no we don’t think DIY windscreen repair is worth it when you’re dealing with something as important as your safety. Save your time for another DIY project that you will enjoy.