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How much does it cost to repair or replace a damaged car windscreen?

The average cost of windscreen replacement is over £200 plus VAT and even a simple windscreen repair will cost around £48 plus VAT. Why does it cost so much? Even seemingly simple things like windscreens aren’t quite so simple anymore; heating elements, sensors, and built-in tech are responsible for that.

There is no doubt about it, cars and their components are getting more expensive. Built-in technology and ‘features’ help to push the prices up, but we shouldn’t forget that manufacturing processes are increasingly more complex, and then we have to contend with safety, emissions and reliability.

Average cost to fix a windscreen
Repair£48.25 + VAT
Replacement£201.22 + VAT

Average cost to repair a windscreen

For the purpose of the article, we’ve based our research on a 2016 Ford Fiesta, of course, different models or brands (even trim specifications) will all have an impact on the price paid to replace the screen, but chip or crack repair is usually standardised.

While you may find that your local independent garage can offer chip or crack repairs to a windscreen, it’s worth remembering that it’s a specialised job, and your safety, could one day depend on the quality of the repair.

For this reason, we’ve chosen five national retailers specialising in automotive glass repair or replacement. This also means that prices are fixed across the country, with no geographical variation.

Using the prices obtained, the average nationwide figure for windscreen repair is £65.70 + VAT. However, one retailer was significantly more expensive, which leads to a spike in the prices, if we were to remove their figures, the average nationwide price is just £48.25 + VAT (£57.90).

Average cost to replace a windscreen

Using the same standard 2016 Ford Fiesta, we also asked the same five retailers for a price to replace the whole windscreen.

The national average price to replace the windscreen works out to £245.51 + VAT, but as with the chip repair, the prices spike due to one retailer, without them, the average is just £201.22 + VAT (£241). It’s worth noting that there was just a £45 differential between the four retailers, which shows that prices are generally consistent, aside from spike, which was £247.65 more expensive than the cheapest supplier.

We can also tell you from experience that the most expensive retailer will also try to upsell windscreen wiper blades, at a premium.

Windscreen insurance

For many motorists, their car insurance does have an element of ‘windscreen replacement’—either included as standard or paid for as an add on feature.

Some policies could have a partial payment toward the cost of replacing or repairing a windscreen, others may cover the cost entirely (minus policy excess payment), and depending on the policy, you may find that your NCB (No Claims Bonus) or NCD (No Claims Discount) is affected. And just to further confuse things, the excess payment on windscreen repair or replacement, may not be the same as an excess payment for other damage.

However, if you do have windscreen insurance then be sure to check your policy details before you book a repair or replacement, because in most cases the coverage is higher (e.g., unlimited) if you use one of their "approved" glass repairers.

Different types of windscreen damage

Typically, a car windscreen can be damaged in a number of ways, but all forms of damage lead to just two outcomes—repair or replacement.

It’s useful to understand the structure of a modern-day windscreen, to get a clear picture as to why some damage may not be quite the disaster it first seems though.

Going back a decade or two, car windscreens were made from toughened safety glass, the point being that instead of splintering (like regular glass), it would shatter into sizeable chunks, minimising the risk of cutting, or damage to the eyes of the occupants.

Laminated glass was available, but wasn’t quite so common as toughened glass, but the increase in safety procedures led to manufacturers adopting laminated glass en masse. Essentially, this is two pieces of treated glass, sandwiching a layer of plastic; the plastic being used to stop the glass shattering, or at least, from coming loose.

Bullseye, chip, stone damage

The first (and most common) type of damage that you’re likely to find in a windscreen would be a ‘chip’, usually from a stone hitting the screen at speed, these are also known as ‘bullseyes’. Most chips can be repaired with specialist equipment (size dependent), often leaving a near invisible finish.

Crack

A crack in the screen is exactly what you’d imagine—a crack running along the outer glass, which may start at one edge. It’s also entirely possible for the crack to be in the middle of the screen, but these typically happen due to a chip that hasn’t been repaired. Some cracks can be repaired with the same specialist equipment, but again, it’s dependent on size.

Visual damage

Visual damage tends to occur on high-mileage or older vehicles, and it usually stems from poor wiper blade quality, or damaged blades. There are some processes that can help clean the damage up, but it’s unlikely that you’ll remove the damage entirely.

Why is it important?

Aside from the basic functionality of keeping debris from entering the cabin, or sealing the car from the elements, a car windscreen plays an important role in the structural integrity of the vehicle; they are bonded in place, which adds rigidity to the body.

Depending on the extent of the damage, your vehicle could fail the MOT (Ministry of Transport) test with a damaged screen, it could lead to serious injury in the event of a collision, and of course, there’s a further element of danger should the windscreen become displaced while driving.

Questions and thoughts …

  • A stone chip or crack may be repairable, don’t assume that you need a replacement windscreen.
  • As your insurance company whether your NCB/NCD will be affected
  • Also, ask your insurance provider what the excess payment would be
  • Check prices with a windscreen replacement company to see if it’s cheaper to purchase than replace through the insurance
  • Most service providers offer a mobile service for little to no extra cost
  • There will be a waiting time between having a screen replaced, and being able to drive the vehicle
  • When having a new windscreen fitted, it’s always sensible to replace the windscreen wipers at the same time, but be wary of overpriced offerings from the retailer
  • If your car is fitted with automatic technology (rain sensing wipers, auto headlights etc), check them at the earliest opportunity

Conclusion

Trusted, local, independent workshops can often provide a more cost-effective service than national retailers, but with windscreen replacement or repair being such a specialised process, it’s likely that they won’t be able to purchase a replacement screen with enough markup left over to be competitive.

Should you find yourself in the situation of having a windscreen crack while driving, don’t panic; the triple-layer lamination process means that it will hold together, and unless a large amount of significant damage has occurred, the inside layer of glass will remain intact, albeit the overall structural integrity will be weakened.

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