Windscreen damage can happen at any time and the cost of a replacement is one you want to avoid. What makes it worse is that the worst damage often happens as a result of a minor incident.
Picture the scene. You're driving down the motorway, minding your own business, when something strikes your windscreen. You ignore it but, when you arrive at your destination, you notice a small chip. "I'm sure it's not that bad," you say to yourself and promptly forget about it.
Three days later, you're driving home from work and don't see a pothole in the darkness. As you drive over it, the chip blossoms into a spider web of cracks. You can barely see out of your windscreen and you don't feel safe driving.
Sound familiar? Well, it means that a windscreen replacement is imminent.
How Much Does Windscreen Replacement Cost?
Windscreen replacement can cost about £150 for most vehicles. If you drive a high-end vehicle, such as a Mercedes, Jaguar or Land Rover, you're looking at around £400-£500.
Both figures are just estimates as a heated windscreen costs much more, for example.
Now is the time you're wishing you fixed that chip earlier, isn't it? The costs quickly rack up because a windscreen replacement requires a certain amount of expertise and the glass itself needs careful transportation.
How Can I Keep This Cost Down?
Repair that chip straight away or add windscreen cover onto your insurance policy. However, without either of these measures already in place, there's not much you can do except bite the bullet
Your standard insurance policy doesn't cover windscreen damage outside a claim for an accident. That means that stones, grit and low-flying birds are your problem.
However, according to Confused.com, you can insure your windscreen as an add on to your policy for around £30. This little extra allows you to claw back the cost of any windscreen repairs through your insurer. Sometimes, they'll even pay the full cost for a replacement too! Just read the fine print of your chosen policy before dancing for joy.
You have to pay a small excess (detailed on your policy document), and take your car to the garage your insurer provides. This isn't always a bad thing, especially if you're not the one whose paying!
But double check the garage's reputation. If it's rated highly by satisfied customers on our directory, it's the real deal. Windscreen cover is always worth the investment but don't worry if that just reflects wishful thinking for you.
Here's something you can do right now to keep the cost of your windscreen replacement to an absolute minimum.
It's Not All Doom and Gloom if You Don't Have Cover
Our directory features a number of small, independent body shops. If there's one in your area, consider booking with them first. They do just the same quality job as the market leader. Even if you choose a franchised garage or leading windscreen expert, make it clear that you're the one paying for the job. Garages know that insurance companies will pay whatever premium they charge, but they usually give other customers a lower price.
You can save yourself a fair few quid by making it clear that your windscreen replacement isn't an insurance job.
Do I Need a Repair or a Windscreen Replacement?
It might be that you don't even need a windscreen replacement. There's high-tech equipment which allows skilled professionals to repair windscreen glass. It cost a lot less than a full windscreen replacement, but you can't repair every chip.
When it comes to repair, your windscreen is split into four sections, labelled A through D. In each section, you can repair different size chips and cracks rather than replace the full windscreen.
- Section A covers the section of windscreen in the driver's direct field of vision. You can repair chips with a diameter of 10 mm or less in this section. This isn't that big but, when it comes to vision, you need to see clearly. Especially in this section of the windscreen. More on that later.
- Section B covers either side of section A, just outside your direct vision. You can repair chips up to 15 mm in this area.
- Section C covers the section of the windscreen in the passenger's direct field of vision. This section affects the driver's direct vision less, so you can repair a chip of up to 25 mm.
- Section D covers the rest of the windscreen, around the edges. This is the least vital section and chips up to 45 mm can be repaired.
If your damage is any bigger, then you need a windscreen replacement but the experts will advise you what to do. And, because any bump can turn your chip into a crack, you need to repair the damage as soon as possible. You certainly can't put a windscreen replacement off.
Well, not only do you risk injuring yourself and others by driving irresponsibly, but it also breaks the law.
Several of them, in fact.
Section 40 of the Road Traffic Act refers to 'the use of a motor vehicle in a dangerous condition'. This means all vehicles must be 100% roadworthy at all times - and a shattered windscreen is not.
It also breaks two separate rules of the Highway Code: 89 and 97. 89 states that you must "ensure your vehicle and trailer comply with the full requirements of the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use regulations)". 97 states that you must "ensure your vehicle is legal and roadworthy".
So, it's pretty clear what you need to do.
If all that wasn't enough incentive, a chipped windscreen also contributes to MOT failure.
And we all know how important that certificate is.
Your car fails if there's a chip larger than 10 mm in the driver's line of sight or a chip larger than 40 mm anywhere else on the windscreen. So don't think you can get away with it in section C or D - the area swept by the wipers also counts.
In short, the cost of a windscreen replacement is always worthwhile, even if you have to fork out for it. Just remember there are ways you can keep that cost down. Insure your windscreen separately and, when you notice a chip or crack, choose the right option to save yourself the most money.
And please, always keep yourself and others safe when out on the roads.