Back To Blog Academy

How Much Does It Cost To Replace A Windshield

By Joe Ballard
Published on March 5th, 2024

As an Amazon associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

Over time, the windshield has evolved significantly, but its original purpose of protecting the driver and passengers from the weather and flying objects has stayed the same.

the true cost to replace a windshield

What started as two horizontally mounted panes of regular glass has progressed through many innovations, including safety glass and a process to form a single unified windshield.

This article will explain the evolution of the windshield and the costs associated with replacing it.

How Vehicle Windshields Came To Be

The first known installation of a windshield in cars was in 1904. Although the first windshields were installed simply to block the wind, they were effective, and soon, car manufacturers and inventors were involved in innovating the windscreen to enhance its safety and performance.

An interesting article titled "A Clear View: History of Automotive Safety Glass" describes how safety glass was accidentally discovered. The story goes that two European inventors made an accidental discovery in their lab when they mixed up a batch of cellulose nitrate (a clear liquid plastic) in a beaker. After emptying the beaker, they set it on the shelf. Sometime later, the beaker was knocked off the shelf, and when it hit the floor, it did not break but cracked because the cellulose held it together.

The inventors determined that putting a layer of cellulose between two plates of glass would dramatically improve the safety aspect of the windshield. Thus, the first safety glass was born. Click here for more information about the safety glass manufacturing process.

replacing a car's windshield cost

Over time, the government got more involved, eventually establishing the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in 1970 to oversee the safety of vehicles, especially the windshield.

Some of the highlights that the NHTSA established included:

  • Auto glass strength as it pertains to keeping occupants in the vehicle
  • Mounting of the windshield so that it stays secure in an accident
  • Windshield penetration of no more than 6 millimeters from an object inside or outside the vehicle

The windshields used in today's vehicles are much more than a piece of laminated glass. With the addition of crash avoidance cameras, heads-up displays, built-in defrost elements, antennas, and solar coatings, your windshield is a complex component to repair or replace.

Is It Possible To Replace The Windshield Yourself?

As you can see, the windshield used in today’s vehicles has evolved from a simple windscreen to a very complex and integral component in your vehicle. This increased complexity is the major contributor to the cost of replacement.

Is it possible to replace the windshield yourself? Possibly, if you have a small vehicle with very little to no electronics integrated into the windshield. However, suppose you have a late-model vehicle with a large windshield and lots of electronics integrated into it.

In that case, then replacing this windshield should be done by a professional like Safelite. This is especially true if the replacement is covered by insurance, but even if not, replacing windshields on modern vehicles requires special tools and expertise.

how much does a mechanic charge to replace a windshield

The other consideration is the cost of using a professional vs DIY. Usually, the cost difference is small, so the choice to use a professional makes more sense than to DIY it. Using my 2019 Hyundai Ioniq as an example, I went to an auto glass replacement website to estimate the cost of purchasing a windshield. The quote with installation by a professional was $430.

If I were to purchase just the windshield without installation, the cost would be $300. I think paying the additional $130 to get a professionally installed windshield and recalibration of all the integrated electronics is a no-brainer. Try using your own vehicle in the estimation tool to see the cost difference for yourself.

So How Much Does It Cost To Replace a Windshield?

By now, you can see that the windshield in today's vehicles is critically important for many reasons, and topping the list is safety.

With crash avoidance cameras and other integrated electronics along with super strong glass, it is hard to believe that the replacement cost has remained relatively low on average, from about $250 to $400 on older vehicles.

On newer vehicles with extensive integrated electronics, however, the cost could be as high as $1000 based on estimates provided by several reputable sources. The main reason for the higher cost is the more expensive electronics such as head-up displays (HUD), rain-sensing windshield wipers, dynamic advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) systems like automatic braking, and adaptive cruise control.

replacing a car's windshield yourself

The dynamic ADAS recalibration requires a special tool that connects to the OBD2 port in the vehicle. After the recalibration, the vehicle is taken on a road test to ensure that all systems are working correctly. This process can take up to 30 minutes or more if recalibration is required after the road test.

If you are a DIYer and you feel that you have the necessary skills and experience to tackle the replacement of your windshield, then here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • The adhesive you choose for the job is essential and may actually work great, but if misapplied, it may lead to leaks and further repairs, costing you more money in the long run.
  • Each type of adhesive requires different drying times to set up correctly before it is safe for you to drive your vehicle, so follow instructions for applying the adhesive very carefully. The last thing you want is for the windshield to come loose in an accident.
  • If your windshield has a dynamic ADAS integration, you will need a special tool to recalibrate the system.
  • If your windshield has relatively simple electronics integration, you can use an OBD2 scanner to scan all the systems in the vehicle. The OBD2 scanners (5410 and up) from Innova have a feature called “All System Network Scan,” which provides a more comprehensive vehicle scan, including those integrated into the windshield.

Conclusion

Whether you choose to replace the windshield yourself or have it done by a professional, it is important to note that the cost is not exorbitant and is a very straightforward process in most cases. Driving with a damaged windshield is not only unsafe, but you can be ticketed for driving with a damaged windshield.

To avoid the hassle of being ticketed or worse, it is wise to repair or replace the windshield as soon as possible. The total cost will be covered if you have comprehensive insurance coverage (except for the deductible).

If you are paying for the replacement out-of-pocket, you now know the range of the potential overall repair cost and the factors that will come into play in determining the final price.

Back To Blog Academy

Have Questions?

Hop in the discussion board on our community site!
It's a place where we help each other answer questions. Like Reddit but for automotive lovers.

Visit Community