3 Considerations When Replacing Or Repairing Your Auto Glass

Auto glass is surprisingly strong and resilient, especially in modern-era vehicles. But in the end, glass is still glass, meaning that your windshield and other windows will always be vulnerable to breaks, chips and scratches. Unfortunately, addressing these issues isn't always as simple as slapping a new piece of glass into place. Here are three potential wrinkles in the process that can be smoothed out with the aid of skilled professionals.

1. Cure Time

No matter how expert the installation, an auto glass replacement requires a certain amount of time to "take." That's because the urethane adhesives used to create a tight seal between windshield and frame need to cure, hardening into a reliable, waterproof join. If you simply drive away immediately after the installation, your windshield won't be firmly attached -- meaning that your car won't be safe to drive.

The adequate amount of cure time for your windshield replacement depends on factors such as:

  • One-part vs. two-part urethanes - One-part urethanes typically take up to 12 hours to cure even under optimal conditions. Two-part urethanes use chemicals to speed the curing process but still require at least one hour of curing time before the vehicle can be used.
  • Humidity and temperature - One-part urethanes are dependent on environmental conditions. The more moisture is present in the air, the more oxygen is available to the curing process, allowing for faster curing. The outdoor temperature must be above freezing for curing to occur.

2. Special Needs Of Vintage Automobiles

One of the great benefits of owning a recent-model, mass-production car is the plentiful availability of replacement parts -- either new parts directly from the manufacturer or like-new ones from "donor" vehicles. But when you're need to replace the glass on your classic car, that convenience may go out the (broken) window. This holds true both for vintage cars and the rear windows on vintage trucks.

What can you do? For most replacements, your only option is to consult an auto glass repair specialist about the possibility of ordering a custom-made windshield or window for your particular make and model year. Make sure the company crafts your glass according to the appropriate NAGS (National Auto Glass Specifications) pattern.

Repairing chips in a vintage windshield may prove difficult or impossible, since antique windshields are constructed with different materials and techniques than today's repair techs are equipped to handle. Ask your auto glass specialist whether it's wiser to leave those little chip marks alone.

3. Dealership vs. Auto Glass Shop

Should you take your auto glass issue to a local dealership or simply head directly to an auto glass repair shop? Either approach has its pros and cons, namely:

  • Cost - A dealership repair will almost certainly cost you more money. That's because most dealerships simply subcontract the work to the same auto glass shops you could have visited yourself, adding their own markup in the process. 
  • Convenience - If you need to have other work done on your car, from a nagging repair issue to regularly scheduled maintenance, consider leaving the auto glass job to the dealer. You may have more profitable uses for your time than running from shop to shop.
  • Quality - A dealership will almost always use dealer glass, ensuring that the parts you receive are identical to the ones your car came with. An auto glass repair shop will use OEM (original equipment manufacturer) glass instead, which is just as good and will be accepted by car leasing agencies without complaint. Ask the shop to avoid using aftermarket glass, with its cheaper materials and non-standard thicknesses, unless your vintage vehicle forces the issue.

From choosing the right auto glass to allowing the appropriate amount of cure time for your windshield installation, take the time to consider your options and ask questions. A little knowledge and a few smart choices will help you see your way clear to a successful auto glass repair or replacement!