Windshield Replacement Costs – All You Need to Know

windshield replacement costs

How Much You’ll Pay for a Windshield Replacement

If you’re lucky, you have never thought about your car’s windshield except when it’s too dirty and needs a good cleaning.

But if you’re like most of us, a damaged windshield is one of the more common problems you can have with a car.

What Are Windshields Good For?

There are some obvious reasons for windshields, and some you may not have considered.

A couple of basic reasons we need windshields:

  • Protect passengers from debris
  • Add needed structure should the car be involved in a roll-over

Windshield Technology

A lot has improved in the technology of windshields over time. Nowadays, windshields are constructed with three layers. A protective layer of plastic vinyl is sandwiched between two curved sheets of glass.

This three-layer construction helps keep the glass from shattering, reduces the chances of debris from entering the car and, when small rocks and other items hit, they only damage the first layer of glass. Ultimately, many damaged windshields have cracks that can be repaired without replacing the entire windshield.

Items that Can Crack a Windshield

Here are some of the most common causes of cracks in a windshield:

  • Rocks and pebbles that are picked up by other cars’ tires can be shot back to hit the windshield of the car behind.
  • As with household windows, windshields can shatter or crack when hit by low-flying birds.
  • Bugs can hit a windshield with such force it creates tiny cracks that add up over time. To make insects easier to deal with:
    • Apply a light film of nonstick baby oil on the vehicle’s grille, bumper, hood and above the windshield.
    • Wax the car’s bumper and hood and re-apply every couple of weeks.
    • Use a bug deflection shield, which will absorb bug impacts.
  • Loose cargo in the construction truck ahead of you can jettison things like nails, screws, bolts and so forth, can bombard your windshield. Boxes can drop in the road and be a danger.
  • Sometimes, the auto in front of you on the highway is being driven by someone who is a roadside litterer. This puts you in the path of possible windshield projectiles and cracks.
  • Extreme cold and heat can turn a slightly damaged windshield into failing.

Did You Know?

Damaged windshields can sustain a variety of cracks, and they have names:

  • Stress cracks occur after repeated impacts of extreme heat and cold.
  • Edge cracks that form on the outer edges of the windshield and extend towards the center.
  • Floater cracks are about two inches or more from the edge.
  • Chips are small divot, or pits in your windshield.
  • Bullseyes, as you can guess, are shaped like bullseyes, craters with rings emanating from the center chips.
  • Star cracks are chips with fissures that emanate out in a pattern shaped like a star.
  • Really large cracks form across the windshield and should be replaced immediately.
  • A medley of cracks, chips and fissures is considered a combination of the possibilities.

The Resurfacing Option

Some glass replacement businesses offer resurfacing as an option, but this is usually considered a temporary solution. You might end up doing a full replacement down the road.

Surprisingly, insects can damage your windshield, ultimately making resurfacing or replacement necessary. When they hit a windshield, bugs cause tiny scratches. Over time, these little microabrasions can add up and cause the window to look opaque. The cracks can enlarge, and opacity get worse, so resurfacing as quickly as possible is imperative if you don’t want to go straight to replacement.

How Much Does Windshield Replacement Cost?

Sometimes cracks are so bad you need to replace the windshield entirely. If you don’t repair cracks right away, they can get worse and eventually the windshield will need to be replaced. Replacement costs vary but experts say the average cost including labor is around $250. Depending on the particular factors can be as high as $1,000.

What Goes into the Cost of Windshield Replacement?

Some of the details that go into replacement include:

  • Make, model and year of the vehicle – Windshield replacement for older (2007 and older) non-luxury cars costs less, typically less than $200. Technology included in cars made in manufactured from 2008 to present, such as sensors for condensation, rain, lane departure and break assist, make changing out a windshield more labor-intensive and expensive.
  • Quality of windshield wipers – Poorly made wipers break or wear down easier, which can result in squeaking, uneven movement, smears and streaking,
  • Type of replacement glass – If the replacement glass is original equipment manufacturer (OEM) it will be more expensive, while an aftermarket windshield can cost hundreds of dollars less.

Does Auto Insurance Cover Replacement Costs?

Check the comprehensive insurance on your policy. Some plans will pay 100 percent of the cost. If you have a high deductible, you might consider not filing a claim and paying for the entire procedure out-of-pocket to avoid higher premiums.

How Cracks Are Fixed

A damaged windshield is repaired with fillers or replacement.


Fillers of clear glues or resins are typically used to fix minor cracks and divots. If the cracks and pits are large, they aren’t good filler candidates, and the solution is to replace the windshield.


Fillers are not effective when the holes and cracks are large. Often, very large cracks spread across the entire windshield. Replacement becomes necessary.

Short-Term Fixes

For a temporary fix until you can have a damaged windshield repaired or replaced. Some DIY fillers used are great for the short-term, including super glue or nail polish.

Watch Out for Windshield Insurance Scams

Auto glass fraud is on the upswing, especially in Florida, South Carolina and Kentucky, the three U.S. states that require insurance companies to waive the deductible on windshield replacement when you have comprehensive coverage. But even if you live elsewhere, there are plenty of scammers out there ready to rip off you or your insurance company. Here are some things to watch out for windshield insurance scams.

  1. If someone approaching you in a car wash, parking lot or other public place and offers to replace your “damaged” windshield for free, your scam-alarm should go on. Typically, they’ll point out a small ding and claim that your entire windshield is compromised. They’ll also boast that they can do the work for “free” if you act immediately. Their tactics tend to be aggressive, bordering on intimidation. Not surprisingly, they prey on the most vulnerable people. Don’t buy into their bullying.
  2. If you have a crack or nick in your windshield, contact your insurance company to set the legitimate claims process in motion. Many will even fix a small crack or chip for free. Besides, many car insurance policies give the insurer the right to inspect the damage before it can be replaced. You also don’t want to risk having your car insurance premiums increasing because of an unnecessary claim. Even worse, once they have your insurance information, the fly-by-night scammer can charge several windshield replacements to your policy, which could result in your car insurance being canceled.
  3. The windshield insurance scams artists won’t use quality replacement parts or employ the best installation techniques. You could end up with a substandard windshield that dangerously distorts your vision and can easily crack or shatter in an accident. When that happens, don’t expect them to be around to honor a warranty.
  4. Always deal with reputable auto glass replacement companies. Make sure all parts and labor are guaranteed and that the guarantee is backed in writing. Get a written estimate and compare it to your final bill to make certain you haven’t been charged for more than you agreed to. If you think you’ve been scammed, report it to your state insurance department.

About Barbara Howington

In a 40-year career that began as editor for a college public affairs department, Barbara has been an instructional media script writer, public relations director, marketing manager, account manager, and co-owner of a graphic design, marketing and public relations firm. For the past several years, she has funneled her knowledge and insight into copywriting, her favorite part of every professional position she’s held.