Removing a Windshield Is an Advanced-Level Repair for Most DIYers. Here’s Everything You Need To Know To Remove a Windshield at Home.
- DIY Difficulty Level: Advanced
- Time Required: One to two hours
- Tools & Materials:
What Are Windshields?
Car windshields serve a multitude of functions and can be critical as the car brakes. As the word “shield” suggests, the windshield protects drivers and passengers from wind, rain, dust, bugs, debris, and other outside elements. A main function of the windshield is to ensure that the driver has a clear view of the road, other vehicles, and their surroundings.
In addition to its safety functions, the windshield provides 40% of the structural strength to the car’s roof. This ensures that, in the unfortunate event of a rollover, the windshield stabilizes and helps to prevent the roof from collapsing in on the car’s occupants. The windshield also plays a key part in the correct deployment of the front airbags. Considering these facts, it is imperative to know if your windshield’s structural integrity is compromised and when to replace it.
Is It Safe To Drive With a Broken Windshield?
The short answer is no. However, it may be acceptable to drive with minor cracks and chips. Federal regulations permit chips or cracks that are smaller than 3/4 of an inch in diameter, as long as they are further than 3 inches apart from one another and are not directly in the driver’s line of sight.
It’s important to remember that the smallest cracks or chips can quickly deteriorate and develop into a lengthy crack, which can run through the driver’s line of sight. Driving with a windshield in this condition is dangerous for both yourself and other road users, not to mention that you may potentially get a fine if the police pull you over. In addition to reduced visibility, a crack or chip weakens the windshield structure and offers less protection during a collision.
It’s best to repair small chips and cracks as soon as possible to avoid developing larger cracks. In the instance where a chip has developed, you can and should get it replaced professionally if you have insurance. If you don’t have insurance, you should still consider having a pro replace it for you. There are specialized tools required that you’ll likely never use again, plus a professional will have the special training and expertise required to do the job right the first time. Although the job costs between $153 and $337, on average, or as high as $1,125, depending on car make and model, it’s worth it to make sure it’s done right.
When To Replace a Windshield
You should always keep an eye on the condition of your windshield and consult a professional if you have any concerns. Always replace your windshield if:
- The glass is tempered and not laminated
- There are cracks longer than a dollar bill
- The cracks or chips go deeper than halfway into the glass
- The cracks or chips extend to the outside edges of the windshield
- Your car fails state safety inspection for a damaged windshield
Keep in Mind
It is always best to follow all maintenance guidelines provided by your car manufacturer, which includes using the recommended type of glass and the correct equipment when removing your windshield. As with all professional services, it’s important to be on the lookout for non-reputable traders when purchasing materials to avoid potential scams.
When removing your windshield, you might also check on the following related car components:
How To Replace a Windshield
While we recommend having a professional glass technician replace your windshield, here are the steps they will follow.
Step 1: Remove Wiper Arms and Rearview Mirror
Using painter’s tape, mark the resting position of the wipers on the windshield, then open the hood. At the base of the wiper arm, remove the dust cap of the hinge with a flathead screwdriver. Loosen the nut holding the wiper arms on with a socket and ratchet. Gently remove the arms from the studs and set them aside.
Remove the rearview mirror from the glass-mounted hardware. There should be a screw to remove or a clip to slide the mirror off. You may need to apply some heat to soften the glue that holds the mounting hardware to the glass before you can remove it.
Step 2: Remove the Trim
Using a trim removal tool, remove any plastic molding and weather stripping around the windshield. Be careful not to damage any clips holding the molding in place, as these are reusable and can be costly to replace.
Step 3: Cut the Urethane
Urethane is a very strong, flexible polymer-based adhesive and is most widely used in the car industry to hold windshields in place. Cutting the urethane all around its perimeter from the outside of the car to separate it from the vehicle.
Step 4: Remove the Windshield
Removing the windshield safely is a two-person job. Start by securing the suction cups on the right and left sides of the outside of the windshield. Open the front doors of the car, and have each person reach one arm in on each side to gently push the windshield away from the pinch weld. Finally, grab the suction cups and lift the windshield away from the pinch weld.
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Disclaimer: The guidelines in this article are general and not meant to replace instructions for your specific vehicle. Please consult your owner’s manual, repair guide, or a professional before attempting repairs.
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