Do any significant driving and you are going to collect the odd chip in your windscreen. Depending on exactly where they are and their size they can be mildly annoying or prevent the driver from getting a clear view in important spot. Did you also know that they weaken your entire front window which in turns weakens the entire strength of your cars body? For this reason there are some specific MOT rules about chips and cracks – some don’t matter but some will cause your car to fail its MOT.
No this is not an innovation in late night snacks! For the purposes of your MOT your car front windscreen is divided into zones and only damage of certain sizes is tolerated in each area.
The diagram above shows the car window as you view it from outside looking directly over the bonnet.
Zone A Damage up to 10mm
Zone B Damage up to 15mm
Zone C Damage up to 25mm
Zone D Damage up to 40mm
If your damage is larger than these sizes then you will need to get the chip repaired before your MOT.
DIY Repair Kits
It is possible to repair chips yourself. You can buy a kit online or from your local car parts shop for as little as £10. The kits work reasonably well but it takes quite a bit of time to clean the glass first, apply the resin without getting it everywhere and then carefully remove any excess. Make sure you have at least 30 minutes to complete the job and read the instructions well before hand.
Pros – cheap.
Cons – takes time and you need to be reasonably handy.
Chip Repair Companies
There are lots of auto glass repair and chip repair companies that offer to do the job for you. At prices from as low as £40 it can make more sense to get someone else to do it rather than take the time yourself and risk bodging the job. In the main these companies offer a decent service for a low price so, as long as you pay attention to the points raised below, they are a good option.
Pros – easy, no mess!
Cons – it can cost you anything from £0 to around £50.
Chip Repair and Your Insurance
Many chip repair companies advertise themselves as free to you because they get paid by your insurer. Sound too good to be true? Well it is and it isn’t depending on your policy and the company you choose to use.
If the repairer is not well trained or is on a profit share it is in their interest to get you to have the repair and then leave you to deal with potential unexpected costs later. First of all the repair will normally only be free if you have a fully comp policy which does not have a specific excess for this repair. Some insurers will pay for most of the repair even if your policy is not fully comprehensive – because they want to avoid the cost of windscreen replacements later on. How much they expect you to pay varies. £10 is fairly normal but it can be higher. Some insurers will only deal with a few national repair companies so although it may be free for you with one supplier for another supplier the insurer may refuse to pay their bill and then they will come back to you chasing payment in the region of £50. Just because a friends insurance paid for it with one repairer does not mean your different insurer will do the same.
Chip repair companies may be very bullish about the fact that they reclaim the cost direct from your insurer and that there will be no cost to you – but this might not be true! It is sensible to make a quick call to your insurer and find out exactly what your policy covers and what charges there may be. You can then make an informed choice about which company to use and what the consequences are for you. If you have a high excess you might just want to pay direct and avoid the insurer entirely.
Chip Repair Companies and Up-selling
While researching this article we read a lot of forum posts on peoples experience with different companies. The biggest gripe was promise that it would be free and it wasn’t – see the paragraph above. The second was that several national firms really pushed window screen replacement. This makes them more money so you can see why they want to do it. Sadly it also costs you more because there is usually an excess on your insurance of at least £50 for windscreen replacement. There did seem to be evidence of firms pushing replacement when it wasn’t needed. So how can you protect yourself?
To be safe you can get more than opinion from more than one company. A faster solution is to choose a supplier who doesn’t provide a replacement service so they have no incentive to up-sell you. There are lots of local companies who don’t offer replacement and several national ones like Optic Kleer Windscreen repair. If they can fix it they will and if they can’t they will tell you to get the screen replaced by someone else.
Chip Repair Companies and Appointments
The third largest complaint for windscreen repair companies was that it was hard to make appointments, companies were late or failed to turn up at all. If your repair is urgent then to be safe you should probably take it to a location that can do an instant repair like a garage. Alternatively several windscreen repair companies set themselves up in public places like supermarket car parks. You just drive up without an appointment and they complete the repair in about 20 minutes while you do your shopping!