Auto glass replacement, simply put, is the removal and replacement of existing glass on an automobile. Auto glass replacement is almost always required because the original part is broken. However, there are occasions where leaks, scratches, and other damage can leave the glass intact, yet not functionally prudent. We can break auto glass replacement down to several categories; windshield replacement, car door window replacement, and various other autoglass replacements. First we'll discuss the ever popular windshield replacement.
Windshield replacement is required when a chip or crack has grown into a gigantic fracture across the glass. It is also required if the tiny pits and scratches that build up over time have resulted in a less than satisfactory viewable area. Replacement may also be required if a leak or damaged molding is too severe to repair without removing the glass. Most windshield replacements take about one hour and a good replacement should cost around $200-$300. Many windshields have moldings which is a black rubber gasket that is attached to the windshield. If your vehicles molding is not part of the windshield it will be sold as a separate part. It is recommended to replace your molding when you replace your windshield. Attempting to reattach a used molding can result in a less than satisfactory appearance. The most overlooked and important part of any windshield replacement is the glue ("urethane") used to adhere the glass to the body of the vehicle ("pinch-weld"). Using low quality urethane can subject your vehicle to future leaks, wind noise, and stress cracks. We encourage both shops and consumers to use the highest quality urethane available. The most critical portion of any windshield replacement is the skilled technician. A properly trained windshield installer can ensure your car is left in the exact same condition it was before the work began; less the need for new glass. Some overlooked caveats are damage to the plastic parts around the base of the glass (cowl), plastic moldings along the sides of the vehicle, and the windshield wipers. An unskilled technician can also damage the interior of your vehicle. If you order mobile windshield replacement keep in mind the area where the replacement will take place and the weather conditions. The windshield installer will need sufficient space to setup their truck and tool and prepare the new glass for installing. Rain, wind, and extreme temperature can make the replacement take much longer or possibly require the job to be rescheduled. If you foresee obstacles that could adversely affect workmanship you may want to rethink when and where to get your windshield replaced.
Break-ins and vandalism are the top reasons for car door window replacement. However, car door window replacement could also be due to your door glass becoming stuck in one position or erratic movement when the electric power motor is engaged. There are four main parts that make up a car door window apparatus; the glass itself (door glass), the electric power window motor, the car window regulator, and the car window elevator.
Most car door window replacements are door glass replacements which arise after the glass has been broken by a blunt force; usually a break-in, vandalism or some accident. These types of replacement are easily performed by your local auto glass retailer. The auto glass technician will be required to disassemble your car door panel which can take anywhere from a few minutes to over an hour. The time depends primarily on the skill level of the technician and complexity of the model vehicle. Some vehicles have rather complex and time consuming designs which make replacing the door glass an expert level task. If you are not a well trained auto glass technician we don't recommend trying it alone.
Car window motor replacement is another type of car door window replacement. This service is intended to restore your car's electric power window to its operational state. You need car window motor replacement if your car's door glass has stopped moving, makes strange sounds, moves unusually slowly, or you've heard a "pop" sound and the glass has disappeared into the door. In all of these cases some part of your car window has failed. There are three separate parts that allow for electric powered door glass to move; the electric motor which drives the movement, the regulator which attaches to the glass, and the elevator which the regulator slides within. These days most vehicles have these three parts as one unit (window motor or "regulator"). In lay terms the words "regulator" and "motor" are used interchangeably. This is of little concern because ultimately there is just one part to be replaced which will include the elevator, regulator, and motor as one part. The replacement of window regulators is more difficult than door glass replacement. Be sure to set aside a couple hours and choose your auto glass technician wisely.
Many other auto glass parts require replacement if damaged because these parts are made of tempered glass (safety glass) which is designed to shatter into a million pieces when broken to keep vehicle occupants safe from severe cuts. We can group these auto glass parts together to simplify explanation. Quarter glass, vent glass, and back glass are tempered auto glass parts which are glued into place with urethane although some may have movable parts. Sun roof glass and convertible glass are both typically considered "dealer only" repairs. Lastly, car mirror glass replacement is in a class all it's own.
Tempered glass parts like quarter glass (typically stationary glass found at the rear sides of various automobiles), vent glass (small typically triangular parts often found within doors that occasionally offer movement to "vent" the inside of the car without requiring opening of larger windows), and back glass (found at the rear of every vehicle, opposite of the windshield) all require skilled technicians with special tools to be successfully removed and replaced. These replacements can be done inside or outside as long as there is sufficient room to work and it isn't raining or too humid. Some of the parts are quite easy to replace and can be done in less than 30 minutes while others can take several hours requiring removal of parts of the vehicle like racks, beds, seats, speakers, and more.
Unfortunately most auto glass professionals don't work on sun roof glass or convertible glass. This means much higher prices from the dealership. Most auto glass retailers don't carry sun roof glass and don't have the tools required to replace the parts. Even more troubling is the replacement of glass on convertible tops. Convertible tops are not designed to have the "sewn in" glass replaced. If your rag top convertible glass is starting to tear and deteriorate you will need to replace the entire convertible top. This is extremely disheartening when your convertible top is in perfect working order and the back glass gets broken.
Car mirror replacement can be quite an easy fix for a seasoned auto glass professional. Many auto glass shops provide replacement mirrors for the side of your vehicle. However, the rear view mirror which is attached to the inside of your vehicle might be quite a different story. These days rear view mirrors are much more than just a reflective piece of glass, they now have such features as auto-dimming, thermometers, compasses, lights, and more. Rear view mirrors with features such as these are referred to as "electro-chromic mirrors". These mirrors are normally only supplied and replaced by the auto dealer.
Is there a difference in the quality of mobile auto glass replacement vs a replacement performed at an automotive glass shop? The answer is maybe. If you have a luxury vehicle or show car you want every repair to be performed in a controlled environment. For these replacements it is recommended to have a two person in shop service. However, if the technician is properly trained, the weather is clear (not even high winds or dusty conditions), and there is sufficient workspace, a mobile windshield replacement or any other mobile auto glass replacement should be no different from in-shop service. The biggest difference is convenience for you, the customer.