Not a Small Job: Tackling Repairs in Large Windshields

When it comes to large windshields, replacement is more expensive, but repair is not impossible.

Steven Maples, owner of Fix-A-Crack Windshield Repair & Replacement in McAllen, Texas, says that whether replacing is better than repairing depends on the situation. “Repairs on those are a little bit more difficult,” he says. The outer glass on RVs is thicker than the windshields on automobiles. “So, to work on them, and get them to act right, it just takes a little more work. They’re worth saving,” Maples adds. The cost of a new large windshield is $1,200 to $4,000. “I’ve saved a lot of windshields by doing repairs.”

While calibration when repairing automobile windshields is necessary, Maples says he has not had a large windshield come in his shop yet with ADAS. “That’s the no. 1 reason we do repair,” he adds, because calibration is not necessary on large windshields yet. “So it’s far better to repair that than to replace.”

“I’m all for you must recalibrate, because that’s what the manufacturer said,” Maples says. However, he says, some semi trucks do have ADAS in windows, but they have not come through his shop yet.

Maples says he will make a repair on a large windshield up to 13 inches, the standard set by the National Windshield Repair Association. “If I’ve got a crack that I can stop that’s 13 inches, I can save [the customer] $4,000,” he says.

“It’s customer safety first,” Maples says of repairs. If the repair will affect the customer’s safety while driving, then the windshield must be replaced.

Joe Saka, manager of Legacy Auto Glass in New Jersey, repairs large windshields as a mobile technician. He started repairing windshields on large trucks in Staten Island six years ago. “We didn’t want to turn anybody away,” says Saka of why his family business chooses to repair large windshields.

“It definitely is [challenging], because you need two, three people to do it,” Saka says of repairs. But Legacy Auto Glass has yet to have a customer technicians could not help. In fact, Saka says he just replaced a windshield on a dump truck which the shop could not find the glass for, “but we were able to make it work.”

Saka says that sometimes parts for larger vehicles are not listed, and the shop has to find parts from similar vehicles that fit their customer’s vehicle.

Saka uses repair kits and a drill with a diamond bit, as well as resin and cure for repairs. “And it comes out pretty good,” he says. He does not repair any chip larger than a pencil eraser, and not more than one chip per windshield. Saka has success with repairs on large windshields and guarantees his work.

If a customer were to return a repaired large windshield, Saka says the shop will put the cost the customer paid for the repair toward a new windshield. “I’ve never had anybody come back,” he says.

Some shops choose not to repair, but to replace large windshields. “I just feel like, for the repairs, if it’s a big chip, you repair it, you have distortion in the glass,” says Kenny Evola, owner of A1 Custom Auto Glass in Manalapan, New Jersey. Evola says large truck drivers need the best visibility through their large windshields.

A1 Custom replaces windshields in dump trucks, tractor trailers, boats, and cars. “All those types of trucks, we have repeat customers,” Evola says. “We pretty much do anything that’s thrown at us.” In business for seven years, Evola says he began working on large windshields because he and his staff have a lot of friends who drive big trucks. “That’s what got us started on the big trucks.”

Evola says he used to do repair on large windshields, however, he felt the work could lack quality and customers could return weeks or months later unsatisfied with the work. “We just focus on replacement. We have a good reputation and we try to maintain that.”

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