Professional Carwashing & Detailing

Windshield chip repair = clear profit

October 11, 2010

When a motorist has a rock chip in their windshield, they have two choices: Replace the windshield, or wait for it to crack and then replace it. It’s that simple.

Despite the “clear” potential of this service, many detailers are passing up this easy money maker because they believe it to be too complicated or expensive. Nothing could be further from the truth. By offering windshield rock chip repair you will capture business from current customers while recruiting a whole new niche market base.

The systems
The repair is quite simple. Windshields consist of three layers: A plastic or vinyl laminate sandwiched between two layers of glass. When a rock strikes, it breaks the first layer of glass, creating an air pocket between the layers which causes the visible distortion. As long as the damage is isolated to the first layer of glass, a repair can be made.

Windshield chip repair systems come in kit form and are available through a number of suppliers and range in price from $300 to over $3,000. Though varied in price, they all use the same basic concept, and the inexpensive systems work just fine.

All systems include a vacuum device to remove the air and inject the resin, a UV light to cure the resin, plus a few miscellaneous items.

The process
The entire process takes less than 30 minutes to complete.

1. The first step is to clean out the chip. Most systems include a small drill, which when utilized insures a perfect opening.

2. Next, pour the resin into the vacuum chamber. The device is then attached to the windshield, evacuating all air from the chip. You can see the air evacuating the chip from the bubbles in the resin. This usually takes 10 to 15 minutes. When all the air is out, the resin is forced into the chip cavity by pressure injection using the same device.

3. To cure the resin, a small UV lamp is included and that takes about 10 to 15 minutes. Once cured, the resin acts like an adhesive to bond the layers of glass, forming a nearly invisible repair.

The prices and insurance
You can charge between $30 to $50 per chip, which is a tremendous mark-up considering materials cost between $2-$3 on average. Auto dealers will pay $25 to $30.

Because repair is always less expensive than replacement, insurance companies are 100 percent in support of this service.

To encourage motorists to repair rather than replace, insurance companies will pay up to $50 per chip and waive the deductible. That means it costs the motorist nothing and puts more money in your pocket.

Consumer awareness
If you plan to incorporate glass repair into your business, you must let customers know what it is, and that it may be free for them (if they have insurance) as well. Also, be sure to let them know that the whole process can be completed in just 30 minutes.

One study done at a fast oil change facility revealed that over 50 percent of the cars had at least one windshield chip. Even if you sold only your services to just 10 percent of the cars in need of repairs, think of the revenues. Even for the detailer, one chip repair a day could add excellent profits to the bottom line.

Promotion and advertising
To promote the service at your business, it is advisable to:
  • Hand out flyers to customers;
  • Put up a display in the waiting room using a “before and after” picture; or
  • Simply bring the chip to the customer’s attention.

Be sure to point out that the insurance company will waive the deductible so it will cost the customer nothing in all of these mediums.

As for off-site promotions, contact local auto dealers, rental car agencies, taxi companies, government agencies and companies with vehicle fleets.

Get in touch with insurance claim centers in the area, letting them know you have chip repair services available.

When to repair chips vs. cracks
While the National Glass Association has been studying the issue of repairing chips versus cracks, it still is not settled. It is recommended that you exercise good judgment in determining what to repair.

Insurance companies and auto manufacturers agree that it is best to repair only smaller chips that are not in the driver’s line of vision.

Most systems also allow you to repair cracks, but it is a question up for debate. Cracks can be repaired by drilling a tiny hole at the end of the crack and performing a chip repair. Then apply thinner crack resin into the crack with a cotton swab.

However, many industry experts believe that this type of repair should not be performed, since the crack is still there, and often, can still be seen. As well, the glass is still vulnerable, since all you have done is “cover-up” the crack.

From an economic point of view, repairing larger cracks takes a long time, so the profit is less. And, if you charge too much it would be more realistic for the customer to replace the windshield.

R.L. “Bud” Abraham is president of Detail Plus Car Appearance Systems, Portland, OR, and a nearly 40-year member of the car care industry. He is also the executive director of the International Detailing Association and a member of the Western Carwash Association Board of Directors. Abraham can be contacted