You were driving down the road and – oh no! – you heard it. Crack. A stray pebble got kicked up by the car in front of you and it put a neat little crack in your windshield.
So what do you do? Obviously, it needs to be fixed, since it’s a huge safety hazard and you could get into a lot of trouble with the authorities if you’re caught driving around with a cracked windshield. You can take it to a dealership or an auto body repair shop; sometimes though the cost is astronomical and you are tight on cash this month. If you’re the kind of person who enjoys doing home auto repair, though, then replacing the windshield on your own might be the way to go.
Supplies You Will Need:
A new windshield, a painter’s knife and sealer (available at auto parts stores or online), a scraper blade, suction cups, a gasket sealer and a rubber hammer. And if you can, get a friend to come over and give you a hand.
Step 1: Purchase a Replacement Windshield
If you check online, there are sites that sell replacement windshields. Be wary and skeptical before forking over your credit card number it might be the wisest option to just call. That will also be helpful when it comes to price, because if you have a live human being on the phone, there’s a good chance you can haggle on the cost. If you do not like any of the prices online, another option is to try to find a second-hand windshield. While not as commonplace as side windows, there are still whole windshields out there, if you know where to look. Try salvage yards first. If that yields nothing, try looking around on Craigslist in the auto parts section (or post your own ad saying that you’re looking for one – it’s free and easy).
Step 2: Remove Windshield Wipers
It might seem obvious, but nonetheless, remove the windshield wiper assembly on the car before you go for the glass. Make sure you remove the trim and then unscrew the bolts which attach the wiper to the car.
Step 3: Remove Molding
With your painter’s knife, carefully remove the molding that surrounds the windshield. Take care not to damage it, as you will be reusing it later.
Step 4: Remove Gasket and Existing Adhesive
At this point, it’s important to note that your new windshield should be set up on a pair of carpet-covered saw horses. It’s also important to put a padded barrier between the glass and the wood so that the glass isn’t scratched and the wood isn’t messed up by the sealer that will go on later.
The rubber gasket needs to be peeled off the channel and set aside. You can start removing the existing adhesive now, taking care to do a thorough job with a scraper blade. The key is to make sure you get all of it, as any remaining old adhesive will prevent the new from being properly installed. Also, check both the exterior and the interior for the old adhesive.
Step 5: Remove Old Windshield
Now the really fun part: it’s going to be heavy, but you’re either a big tough guy or lady or you nabbed a friend to help, right? Use the suction cups to lift off the old windshield and set it aside. With any luck, it will stay in one piece while you do this.
Step 6: Prepare the New Windshield
Clean the new windshield so that it’s smudge free (around the edges especially). At this point it’s a good idea to reapply the gasket, working it around the perimeter of the windshield. Apply gasket sealer by pulling back the edge of the gasket and brushing it on so that it’s between the gasket and the windshield. Don’t miss any spots and don’t fuss that it’s messy. The central thing is that you create a good seal.
Step 7: Reinstall New Windshield and Molding
Now you can use those suction cups on the new windshield and carefully lift it into place. Lay it on the frame, pressing with even pressure. If necessary, use the rubber hammer to “seat it.” Then you can reinstall the molding, by setting it in place and pushing it down. That rubber hammer might come in handy again, too, right about now.
That should do it! It’s always a good idea to check for leaks when you’re done, too.
See Also — Where Can I Find My Cars Paint Code?
Information updated June 2014.
By Charles K. Green
What automotive glass installers and repairers earn.
You are zipping down the interstate and without warning an unknown piece of debris flies up, hits your windshield and sails over the roof of your car. Startled, you continue on your way, but soon notice a pin-sized hole in your windshield. That hole will only grow if it is not repaired, possibly causing the entire windshield to crack and break if you neglect the repair.
Fortunately for you, your auto insurance policy will cover the repair, provided you use XYZ automotive glass repair, a company that will send out a technician to repair your windshield at your home. Such automotive glass installers and repairers number just 18,000 strong according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, earning an average annual salary of $32,310 per year as of 2013.
Average Pay for Automotive Glass Installers
The median pay for automotive glass installers and repairers was $32,300 in 2013 according to the BLS. Those in the 10th percentile averaged $19,900 per year while those in the 25th percentile earned $25,200. Glass repairers in the 75th percentile averaged $39,400 per year and those in the 90th percentile earned $47,100 per year annually.
Automotive repair businesses and car manufacturers employ the largest number of glass installer and repairers. Companies such as Safelite AutoGlass typically send technicians to the location of a vehicle to remove the old glass and install new glass. Some technicians work in body shops or related repair shops. Others work in manufacturing plants.
Automotive glass installers and repairers can be found in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Tennessee, with an average yearly pay of $41,100, lead all states as of 2013. Minnesota at $39,500, Oregon at $38,000, Utah at $37,300 and Nevada at $36,600 followed.
At the bottom end of the pay spectrum is Missouri where the average salary as of 2013 came in at $22,300 followed by New York at $25,400, New Mexico at $26,300, Louisiana at $27,000 and Indiana at $27,400.
Training for Automotive Glass Installers
Most repairers and installers have a high school diploma or equivalent. Some have completed technical school, receiving training in body work. Workers may be hired and trained by a company, but should possess expertise and experience working with such tools as cutting knives, pullers, screwdrivers and power buffers. Mechanical aptitude, mathematical skills and customer service skills are important for this position.
The BLS is estimating average growth for automotive glass installers and repairers, projecting an 8 to 14 percent job growth for the 10-year period ending in 2022. Approximately 6,900 openings are forecast as workers move on to other jobs or move up in the industry. With more than 250 million vehicles registered in the United States according to the Research and Innovative Technology Administration, there will always be a need for people to fix cracked windshields and replace other automotive glass.