I drive a vehicle with the aerodynamics of a shoebox. Windshield chips and cracks could be considered as much a part of the Jeep experience as the Jeep wave. I’ve owned many Jeeps and every single one had the windshield replaced at some point. Toxic Crush is on its third windshield. Which brings me to this post, it got a replacement windshield this week. I’ve learned a few things along the way that I’d like to share with other Jeepers.
Windshield Repair vs. Windshield Replacement
The first thing you need to know is a windshield repair will not keep a windshield from cracking. The repair is purely cosmetic. Some consider it a waste of money. But, windshield replacement may not be in the cards for everyone. An OEM 2011-2015 Jeep Wrangler windshield brings just over $800 at the moment. That is a lot to spend on something that isn’t an upgrade. I’ve had chips filled in the past. It will visually reduce the size of the chip, but it won’t go away. The filling process involves drilling and injecting a solution to fill the void. If this is what you need time is of the essence. The longer you go without the repair the less likely it is to be filled successfully. Dirt can prevent the solution from filling the crack. My preference is always to replace the damaged glass.
You should never try to replace a windshield yourself. This is a job that requires knowledge, skill and specialty tools. One wrong move and the glass can crack and may eventually leak. It’s important to know your own limits.
I’ve owned many Jeeps so I know that Jeep windshield are not long for this world. If your insurance company offers “full glass coverage”, it is a worthwhile addition. Some have a small deductible others have no deductible. To qualify for this you need to have comprehensive and collision coverage (full coverage). This is a talking point I bring up when shopping for new coverage and clarify with the insurance agent exactly what coverage I’ll get, what it costs, and any additional terms. For example, some offer a no deductible replacement windshield but use aftermarket glass. Usually, you can ask for an OEM replacement and/or pay the different to get an OEM replacement.
Aftermarket vs Jeep Factory Glass Windshields
Aftermarket glass manufacturers re-use the dies that are used to cut the windshield too many times. Each cut removes some of the die. When worn, the glass ends up being cut too small, and results in cracking and/or leaks. OEM Jeep replacement windshields require the dies be used a limited number of times, and they are carefully checked for optical distortion. That’s why OEM glass usually costs more than aftermarket glass. Sometimes that distortion is not apparent, but can result in eye strain and even headaches.
The OEM Mopar glass will keep the Jeep logo in the center windshield and little Jeep in the corner. Another reason to avoid aftermarket glass. There are some creative options to keep this design detail with aftermarket glass.
Use a reputable glass company. Don’t call the 800 number your insurance company provides. They usually use substandard glass companies that employ amateur techs and use aftermarket glass. Get a recommendation from your insurance agent or your local Jeep club. Find out who uses OEM glass and has qualified techs.
Replacement Windshields and Your Insurance Company
The insurance industry and glass companies can be at odds, so some use a 3rd party glass network. Reputable local glass companies cannot afford to wait 9 to 12 months to get paid. If they bill the insurance company direct, which they can by law, they must wait for their money. So most bill through a 3rd party glass network. Most insurance companies have a glass network they use. These networks pay the glass companies quickly, but they require the glass shop to greatly discount their price. They leave enough for the glass company to be marginally profitable, but not much more. The 3rd party glass network then charges the insurance companies full retail and top dollar for labor. Since they make so much on the transaction, they can afford to wait to get their money.
These networks are not on your side. They default to cheaper quality glass and may suggest a shop with a lower labor rate. The less you accept the more money in their pocket. But, if you are an informed buyer you can request OEM glass and qualified labor.