Guardian’s Guide to RV Windshields
If you are an RV owner, you might know the sinking feeling when you spot the dimple on your windshield. A little pea-sized circle of blue/grey on your beautiful expanse of glass.
Maybe you cringed when you heard the snap of a rock as it bounced into your path a few days ago. Holding your breath, silently cursing, you hoped you escaped damage.
Then you see the dimple.
Worse yet, maybe you just looked at your RV in storage for the first time in a few months…and there’s that ugly jagged line across your windshield.
Windshields break, and it cannot be helped.
What most often crosses the mind of the RV owner is: what is the best way to handle this bump in the road? Straight up replacement? Repair the hole? Talk to a professional? Hand it over to them? Try some home remedies?
Guardian’s Custom Glass Solutions is the leading provider of original equipment windshields for Class A RVs. We know RV windshields. Here is our take on some of the basic concerns regarding damaged RV windshields.
Does My Windshield Need to be Replaced or Simply Repaired?
The answer depends on the level of risk the damage presents to the overall strength of the windshield. Careful observance of even tiny cracks and chips is critical because small damage can spread and compromise the entire piece of glass.
When deciding to replace or repair your damaged motorhome windshield, here are some items to consider:
Extent of the Windshield Damage
RV windshield repair experts suggest that replacement is likely when the size of the damage is greater than a quarter, especially when larger cracks and chips are directly in the driver’s line of sight.
Due to the size and shape of motorhome windshields, small damage can spread quickly and produce reduced visibility and unsafe driving conditions. Thus, only windshields with damage less than the size of a quarter should be considered for potential repair. In many cases, cracks and chips directly in the driver’s line of sight – regardless of size – warrant windshield replacement over repair.
Depending on the size, shape, availability and type, replacing an RV windshield can cost $1,000 – $5,000. The high cost of replacing a motorhome windshield is due to the glass product itself and the technical skill and labor of the experts who are hired to replace the windshield.
On the flip side, small chips, cracks and indents can be repaired by a professional for as little as $50.
Damaged RV windshields fall into one of two categories: repairable and irreparable. The price discrepancy of replacing and repairing an RV windshield is significant, but it should not influence an RV owner’s thought process as the windshield is an integral safety feature.
If a professional determines that the damage does not compromise vision and safety, it is more affordable to repair the windshield. Otherwise, replacement is necessary for the safety of RV owners and others on the road.
Most often, your insurance company will cover the bulk of the cost of a windshield replacement. The policy holder will be responsible for only for the deductible…and in some cases, certain states wave the deductible.
Some insurance companies will cover windshield repairs and, in some cases, offer additional glass coverage in their policies. RVs are notorious for taking rocks to the windshield, so consider inquiring about additional glass coverage.
This is Not a Do-It-Yourself Project
Replacing an RV windshield requires expert training and special tools. Do-it-yourselfers risk not only further damaging their motorhome, but their safety and that of others by driving with a windshield that could be improperly installed.
Due to the size and shape of a large, one-piece RV windshield, minor chips or cracks are more likely to spread, further damaging the glass. A do-it-yourself glass repair kit may buy some time, but don’t be surprised if the damage still spreads. Since minuscule damage can compromise an entire motorhome windshield, call a professional to seal and repair minor chips and cracks. When done properly, a professional chip repair can prevent damage from spreading.
Choosing a Glass Shop
Whether utilizing insurance or not, you will have to select a glass shop to perform your repair or replacement.
First and foremost, make sure the glass shop is able to work on RVs. RV windshield replacements are different from replacing windshields in a typical car, so you want to be sure your glass shop has the resources and expertise to handle an RV.
Also, ask about warranties provided by the glass shop. Many glass shops will warranty their labor and workmanship, but make sure to clarify what is covered and for how long. Depending on your situation, you may need or want a glass shop that can come to you; consider asking about mobile capabilities.
Choose wisely; selecting the right glass shop will go a long way in making the windshield replacement process smooth and painless.
The Motorhome Windshield Replacement Process
Replacing an RV windshield requires special expertise to navigate the challenges. If you have never had a damaged RV windshield, you may be curious about the replacement process.
Professional technicians will:
- Adjust or remove the cowl and wipers to access the windshield molding (accessing the molding is different for each motorhome model)
- Remove the windshield molding and/or gasket
- Use special tools to cut the windshield away from the sealant
- Apply protective coverings to the inside dashboard
- Use special suction cups to easily control and remove the windshield
- Remove a layer of the old urethane sealant (urethane sticks best to other urethane)
- Clean the remaining old urethane seal
- Prepare both the glass and motorhome body for new urethane seal
- Touch up any scratched areas with a primer to prevent rust
- Apply new urethane seal to RV body
- Set new windshield and ensure proper positioning
- Reinstall the molding, cowling and any other pieces that were initially removed
How to Avoid a Damaged RV Windshield
The best way to avoid the expense and inconvenience of a damaged RV windshield is prevention.
Here are some precautions motorhome owners can utilize to better ensure the protection of their windshield:
- Continuously Check Your RV for Windshield Damage and Get Even Minor Damage Repaired ASAP. The best way to minimize windshield damage is to proactively monitor the health of your RV windshield. If you notice even the smallest rock chip or any other damage, contact a repair specialist.
- If you are shopping for a used RV, the windshield is one area to which you should pay special attention. You might get stuck with a vehicle that comes loaded with a near-future windshield problem.
- Before you purchase a used RV or hit the road with your current motorhome, investigate the windshield for damages of any kind and size. Look for signs of rust around the perimeter of the windshield. Rust can cause the windshield to warp and crack. While no damage may be present upon an initial inspection, rust forebodes possible windshield damage. Taking the time to address any rust problems near your windshield can save you thousands of dollars.
Need Help Replacing or Repairing Your RV Windshield?
We work with professional glass shops coast to coast, with trained technicians who can repair or replace broken windshields on more than thirty RV brands.
Call or contact us to learn more.