Cheap Windshield Replacement

Do you really want a cheap windshield replacement?  You may think you do, but when you consider all the factors involved you may change your mind.  Although most people don’t realize it, the windshield is an important piece of safety equipment, just like airbags, safety belts, and impact-absorbing bumpers.

The windshield in a modern car is actually part of the vehicle body structure, and provides support for the roof in the event of a rollover or crash. The windshield also is designed to cushion the impact from a person’s head, and to serve as a backboard for the front airbags. A low-quality windshield may break or shatter more easily in an accident and may not protect passengers from flying debris from the crash. A cheap windshield replacement may also buckle if the vehicle rolls, allowing the roof to collapse more easily on you and your passengers.

All that aside, if you are intent on saving some money by getting a cheap windshield replacement, there are some ways that you can do that. The most inexpensive windshield replacement alternative would be to get a used windshield and do the replacement yourself.  Check with your local auto salvage companies, and also check Craigslist.  It may be difficult to find a good used windshield, but they are out there.

You will need a few inexpensive tools:  piano wire to cut out the old windshield, 2 or more suction cup handles (like this one) to grip the glass so you can move it around, and a caulking gun to apply the adhesive.  The tools to do it yourself will likely cost $30 or so minimum, which is less than you would pay a professional to do the work, and you will get to keep the tools of course!  The adhesive and the primer for one windshield should also run $25-30, so keep that in mind when you are deciding which way to go.

Another option for an inexpensive windshield replacement is to shop around and get the cheapest new windshield you can find, and install it yourself.  Keep in mind that a lower-quality windshield may not fit exactly like the original, and may cause you some aggravation when you are installing it.

Just remember that you get what you pay for, and the sweetness of a low price is forgotten long before the regret of using poor quality parts (or however the saying goes).  If you buy a really cheap windshield replacement, you may end up wishing you had spent a few more dollars on a higher quality glass.  For this option, you will of course need to get the same tools and materials mentioned above.

A better alternative is to purchase a good quality aftermarket windshield (including installation) from a professional installer, and ask him if there is anything you can do to lower the cost of the replacement. If you are not in a hurry and have a flexible schedule, some installers may give you a discount if you tell them you want the installation done at THEIR leisure.


In other words, whenever they have an open time slot that they need to fill, when they would not be making money otherwise.  See if they have an installation coming up that is near to your work or home, and ask if they would discount your installation if you bring the car to the same location.

ASK for a discount; just asking is sometimes all it takes, and it is not likely you will get anything that you don’t ask for!  Be sure to check if they offer an AAA discount, or senior citizens discount, or a military/police/firefighter discount, if any of those apply to you.

Make sure you are genuinely nice and friendly to everyone you deal with; I know from over twenty years of experience in the automotive industry that rude people sometimes get charged more for the same job!  Offer the installer something to drink or some home-baked cookies; don’t hover over them, watching their every move, because that makes them nervous and implies that you don’t trust them.

If you are genuinely interested in what they are doing, it may be OK to watch them and ask an occasional question, but not too many!  You have to watch for cues from the installer, though; I personally cannot stand having a customer watch me work, and I definitely cannot carry on a conversation while I am working on a car!

An automotive windshield replacement can certainly be done by a novice, but getting a quality result will require that you take your time and follow instructions.  Any mistakes could create water leaks and/or wind noise, or allow the windshield to come loose in an accident and compromise the integrity of the roof structure.

This is one job that is really best left to a professional.  Shop around, ask the folks at your favorite auto repair shop for recommendations, and don’t forget to BE NICE and ASK for a discount! That is really the smartest way to get a cheap windshield replacement.


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