I live in Pennsylvania where we are lucky enough to have four seasons: Fall, Winter, Spring, and PennDOT season. It’s kind of a joke, but not really. The constant freezes and thaws our climate goes through tear up our roads pretty badly every year, and the government agency in charge of caring for them (PennDOT) makes a big show of halting traffic across the state every summer without ever actually getting all the work done.
All the bumpy roads and construction vehicles mean that our car windshields are often at risk. Whether it’s a stray piece of gravel or a deer crossing the road at night, cracked windshields are a prolific phenomenon. Of course, this isn’t a problem we alone have in Pennsylvania. And if you’ve ever had the misfortune of dealing with a cracked windshield, you know it can be a costly repair.
Having a lot of experience dealing with the aftermath, I’m going to walk you through how to find a cheap windshield replacement.
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1. You might not need the entire windshield replaced.
First, just because you have a crack in your windshield doesn’t necessarily mean you need the entire thing replaced. A lot of times, repair companies can simply fill the crack in the glass.
But make sure to get any small nicks or scratches fixed right away. The more you drive with a small crack, the more likely that crack is to spread and become a bigger (and more expensive) problem.
2. Your cheapest bet is usually to go through insurance.
Whether you need a crack filled in or you need to replace your entire windshield, the cheapest way to get it fixed is typically through your insurance.
This past winter, I had a huge gasher running all the way up my windshield. I simply called up my car insurer, told them what was going on, and they sent one of the repair companies they contract with to my house.
When he saw how big the crack was, he knew the entire thing was going to need replacing. He used this fancy machine to suck the windshield off my car right there in the driveway. Then, he placed some glue around the edges and stuck the new one on.
I had to wait a couple hours to drive while it dried, but all in all it was super convenient process and not overly time consuming at all. Plus, I was fully covered so I didn’t have to pay a penny. No out-of-pocket costs feels like the best kind of cheap windshield repair.
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3. Check your deductible.
Depending on your policy, you’ll sometimes have to pay a deductible for this service. This varies by insurance carrier, specific policy, and state.
Some insurers view the repairs and replacements as preventative measures that will help prevent further damage, so they won’t make you pay the deductible to utilize this specific service. Others are forced to not charge you a deductible by state law under these circumstances.
Others still will absolutely make you pay the deductible if the law of the land allows it.
Windshield repairs are covered under the comprehensive coverage portion of your auto insurance. To see what your deductible is, find your dec page and look for the comprehensive coverage line item. The deductible should be listed right there.
Call your insurer to see if they’ll charge you this deductible or not. Even if it’s listed, they might not charge it for windshield repair or windshield replacement.
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4. Cheap windshield repair will vary by location.
I really, really hope you’re not driving a vehicle without insurance. That’s illegal.
But if you are, or if your car somehow got damaged while sitting in the driveway, you’re going to have to pay out of pocket. The price of repairs is going to vary greatly depending on your location.
5. Small chips usually cost $50 – $100 to repair.
Safety isn’t the only reason you want to get those small chips repaired early. If you can fix them before they spread, filling small chips usually only costs somewhere between $50 – $100. That’s not bad in the cheap windshield repair realm.
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6. Cracks in your windshield can cost up to $130+ to repair.
Filling full-fledged cracks in isn’t much more expensive, but if the crack has grown long enough you may be looking at a repair bill of about $130, sometimes more.
Don’t let those cracks get too long, though. If they’re large enough to compromise the structural integrity of your windshield, an honest repair person is going to insist on replacing the entire thing.
That might not be good for your wallet, but it’s good for your physical safety.
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7. Replacing the whole windshield will cost you hundreds.
If you’re replacing a windshield without insurance, the average cost is going to be in the hundreds. It will vary based on things like your location, vehicle, and where you shop. The range is typically between $250 – $500.
TIP: If your car insurance company is going to make you pay the deductible and your deductible is high, you might want to consider paying out of pocket rather than filing a claim. You’ll pay the same amount either way. While windshield repair claims don’t always push your premiums up, checking with your insurance company on their policies can help you make a good call.
8. You won’t find cheap windshield repair at the dealership.
There’s some assurance in utilizing a dealership to fix your car’s windshield. You know they have the exact right windshield for your vehicle, and you know the product you’re getting is legit.
The tradeoff is that you’re going to be paying a higher price to use the dealership’s services. It’s usually cheaper to go elsewhere.
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9. If you go with third-party companies, make sure they’re AGSC-certified.
When you go with a third-party glass repair company, you’re likely to find lower prices, but you’re also rolling the dice a bit.
Some third-party companies are totally legit in their cheap windshield repair offerings. They charge less than the dealership because they purchase aftermarket windshields directly from the factory supplier at wholesale pricing. These folks are professionals and know what they’re doing.
But others are shady and use cheaper (read low-quality) glass. They might be able to get the job done for less, but they’re also putting your family’s safety at risk.
To make sure you can trust the company, do the usual things like read reviews before engaging in their services. But also check to see if the company is a registered member of the Auto Glass Safety Council (AGSC). The repair person they send to your house should be AGSC-certified to boot.
Companies that ride with the AGSC might cost you more than those who don’t, but they’re also less likely to put you in danger.