While a chip in your windshield is often easy to repair, a cracked or broken windshield will need to be replaced. If you are a fairly skilled backyard mechanic and you're thinking about tackling the windshield replacement on your own for the first time, there are some things that you need to consider. Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you try to make the decision to either do it yourself or take it to a glass repair shop.
Don't Try To Seal The Crack
It's tempting to try to use a chip repair product or even superglue to seal a cracked windshield. Unfortunately, when it comes to cracks, this is not a good solution. The crack will weaken the integrity of the windshield. Even if it physically fills the crack, that's a weak point in the glass. Any kind of impact, even from the pressure of wind against the glass, can cause it to break further. If this happens in an accident, you won't be protected the same way and may suffer significant injuries.
Clean The Windshield Frame
If you remove the gasket and push the windshield out, you'll have to clean the windshield frame before you can install the new glass. That means scraping out any residual urethane from the channel in the frame. You also need to address any rust that's started to form, because any moisture left in the frame can lead to more rust. That will threaten the structural integrity of the windshield frame and put it at greater risk of failure in the event of an accident.
Sand the rust down, and then clean the entire windshield frame before you go any further. It's best to wipe it out with a damp rag before drying it out. This is important because it has to be clean and dry before the urethane gets applied because the urethane won't form the necessary seal if the windshield channel is wet or dirty.
Let The Urethane Cure
When you take your car to a glass repair shop to have the windshield replaced, they allow for the time needed to let the urethane cure before you can pick up the car. If you decide to replace the glass by yourself, you need to allow the same time before you try to drive the car. That urethane is what helps to secure the windshield in place, and it forms an important seal that prevents air and rain from passing through and into the passenger area. Further, a properly sealed windshield is a key component for the structural integrity of your car and the windshield area.
The amount of time required for the urethane sealant to cure will vary from one brand to another. Make sure you read the package and instructions carefully so that you know exactly how long it takes for that particular brand to cure. Allow it to set that long before you try to drive the car.
Consider The Temperature
The ambient temperature is also an important consideration when you are installing a windshield. If the temperature is too cold or too hot, it can prevent the urethane from sealing the way that it is supposed to.
When temperatures are too cold, the urethane is likely to freeze before it can cure. This makes it brittle and renders it non-functional. When the temperature is too hot or too humid, it can slow the cure time or prevent the urethane from completely curing.
That is why most auto glass repair shops will do these replacements indoors in a controlled environment. This ensures that the urethane can seal properly in the time required.