We've all heard the argument of the do-it-yourselfer. Doing the job on your own can bring a sense of satisfaction and save money. When things don't go right the results may not be so warming or economical. Thirteen beers or three fried alternators into a pile of sheared bolts and bruised knuckles can result in a job costing far more than planned. Sometimes the financial outlay in tools, materials, and time, don't add up to any savings for the do-it-yourselfer. Worse still is a job done wrong can be potentially dangerous. Replacing a cracked or old front windshield glass is one of these times.

Seeing Clearly

A line-of-sight windshield crack or bull's-eye that obstructs vision can prompt a conversation with an officer of the law. Cracked windshields are a good reason to get pulled over, and illegal in some states. Having an installer travel to your home or business to replace a windshield can save the cost and time involved in clearing up a fix-it citation. Cracked windshields can also let in moisture, which can cause hidden rust to form on the underlying steel, and compromise the adhesive bond of the glass to the vehicle. What looks fine from the outside may be a disaster forming out of sight.

Bonding Experience

The plastic and glass sandwich, or sangwich, that comprises modern safety glass serves three functions. The plastic outer layers prevent the glass from shattering when presented with hurtling baby toys or frozen lobster tails fallen off a truck. The plastic itself is flexible, which can cushion any impact of occupants in an accident. A less obvious function is perhaps the most important. Back in the days of finned Cadillacs and Plymouth Potemkins Satellites, heavy stamped steel pillars held up the roof. The glass merely went along for the ride. As efficiency and lower weight became more important, vehicle construction changed. Today the glass and steel along with the adhesive that holds it all together combine to form structural support for the roof of the car. The windshield can also help support a deploying airbag

Sniffing Glue

Using the right catalyzed adhesive to chemically bond the replacement glass to the vehicle structure is extremely important, especially in the case of vehicle rollover or airbag deployment. Using the wrong adhesive may not just result in leaks and cause cabin noise, but it could also result in serious injury in the event of accident. Leaving the windshield install to the guys with the trucks and glass is a capital idea. A lower than normal insurance deductible often applies for front windshield replacement. Check with your carrier. Most auto glass installers are mobile, and will roll out to wherever you are. You could do it yourself, but by the time you get the tools, the adhesive, the primer, crack a new windshield, buy another replacement, and break a trim bit - you could have had more fun playing Grand Turismo while someone else did the job right for a lot less money. In this case we stood around with a camera, so you could see how the job is done.


Stuff You'll Need:

· A telephone or the internets to make an appointment
· Vehicle year, make, and model
· Insurance deductible (optional)
· About an hour
· Something to do for an hour while someone else installs the windshield


This crack was a ticket waiting to happen, and had also caused the window seal to fail. This windshield had also seen enough presidents to become pitted and hazy at night.

Specialized tools are used to gently remove the trim so that the numerous clips, fasteners, and retainers can be re-used. These clips are easy to break. Replacements can often be dealer only items, usually not cheap.


With the trim out of the way another tool is used to squarely slice the adhesive material directly under the windshield.


Once the undercut is finished, a suction cup is employed to remove the old windshield. Presto.

The mounting surface on the new windshield prepped by scuffing. A bonding agent is then applied to the new surface to help with grip onto the old.


Adhesive is laid out in a pointed "V" all the way around the bead. Any gap or inconsistency can lead improper bonding, a water leak, or cabin wind noise.


The suction cup and a steady hand are used to place the windshield in the right spot. There is no do over without starting over.

All the trim bits are put back and the windshield wipers are replaced.
A final cleanup, and the windshield is as good as new. The adhesive should cure before the vehicle can be driven. Ask your installer.