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Windshields are there to protect us–hence the “shield” in the name. However, that means they’re more likely to suffer damage when other cars on the road kick up a rock or other debris. If you end up needing windshield repair or replacement, you’ll probably want to know how much you can expect to pay. It turns out the answer to that maintenance question isn’t as simple as you might hope. 

It’s remarkably easy to crack a windshield

A shattered windshield of a U.N. vehicle after a roadside blast in Rmeileh
A shattered windshield | RAMZI HAIDAR/AFP via Getty Images

As a car owner, there’s a very good chance that, at some point, you’ll need to replace your windshield. In fact, according to Nexstar, a whopping 14 million windshields require replacement every year in the United States. Insurance companies generally see about 30% of their claims fall in the area of windshield repair or replacement.  

Anyone who’s driven on a highway can probably imagine why it is that windshields so often end up needing to be replaced. Rocks, pebbles, and other debris can come flying at you when they’re kicked up by another vehicle or come flying off the back of a truck in front. These projectiles can easily do damage to a car’s windshield. 

Sometimes this flying debris results in nothing more than a small dent. Other times, you can end up with a larger “ding” that can spread into a crack if not dealt with. This is when you’ll need to start thinking about replacement. 

How much does it cost to replace a windshield?

We could try to answer this question in the simplest way possible and say that the average cost to replace a windshield is $400. However, that wouldn’t do justice to the many factors that go into determining what you’ll pay for such a service.

For example, if you own a luxury vehicle, you’re likely to pay more for a windshield than someone who owns a typical base model sedan. Your location also plays a role in what you can expect to pay for your windshield, as does the material you choose, your service provider, and any modern technology involved in your windshield. 

You’ll also need to factor in your insurance company’s policies when thinking about windshield replacement. Does your insurance provider usually default to windshield repair rather than replacement? Some companies will do this as a way to keep premiums lower. Will the company offer a replacement for free, as required by some states, or will it require you to use your deductible? These are all questions you’ll want answered before moving forward with windshield replacement. 

What to do when you spot cracks

If you notice damage to your windshield, you’ll want to do a few things. First, consider carefully whether it’s damage that requires immediate repair or replacement. If you are dealing with a bullseye that is larger than what your state allows, or if you have a crack that’s spreading and impeding your vision, you’ll almost certainly need to get your windshield replaced. Take a picture of the damage with a ruler in view to record exactly what issue you’re dealing with.

Next, consult your insurance policy carefully. What does it cover, and what are the company’s expectations of you in this process? Your insurance company may send out an adjuster to make a final determination on what they think is required. The adjuster may put you in touch with a specific service provider or may allow you to choose who you wish. 

Luckily, unlike many types of car repairs, windshield repair or replacement is a pretty quick process. It usually takes less than an hour and can be done in your driveway or any public place. So, if you need a windshield replacement, don’t put it off. You’ll be done before you know it. 


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