If you own or are going to buy a motorhome, I can almost assure you that you’re windshield will eventually crack. The sheer size of these windshields makes them extremely vulnerable to rock chips and stress fractures. In our time with our motorhome and being around so many others we have experienced this problem many times.
Finding solutions for an RV windshield replacement near you isn’t usually a fun experience and can come at a cost, but it’s just part of the motorhome ownership experience. Since this situation won’t fix itself, you need to take action. Once you get the ball rolling, it’s only a matter of time before you’ll see clearly again.
Today, we’re sharing everything you need to know about an RV windshield replacement. Let’s get going!
A Small Rock Can Cause a Big Problem
When traveling down the highway at 65 mph, you don’t need a big rock to cause a significant problem. Any rock chip can crack a window; however, rocks hitting corners and curved surfaces are more likely to cause giant cracks. These areas of the windshield are naturally stressed from the manufacturing process and are common problem areas. Cracks of any size weaken the integrity of the glass and can grow due to bumps in the road or temperature changes.
Depending on the location of the damage, this can make it challenging for the driver to see. Driving is already dangerous enough; you don’t need to add to the difficulty. If you catch it early, you can prevent small cracks and chips from growing into more significant problems. Eventually, you’ll have no option but to replace the entire windshield.
Is It Easy to Replace Your Own Windshield?
No, unless you are experienced with glass, we don’t recommend it. Replacing the windshield on a vehicle can be challenging. It requires specialized tools, skills, and knowledge. You could do more harm than good if you don’t have them. As a result, we recommend that you leave this job to the professionals.
Incorrectly installing your windshield could pose some severe issues. This piece of glass plays a pivotal role in structural integrity. Some estimates are that it’s responsible for 45% of a vehicle’s structural integrity. While it may save you a few bucks to DIY, it’s not a risk worth taking.
Does Insurance Cover RV Windshield Replacement?
Unfortunately, insurance coverage for RV windshields varies considerably by policy. Many providers consider the policy or the circumstances regarding claims. If you have comprehensive coverage on your vehicle, it would likely cover the repair or replacement.
However, you can’t overlook that policies often have deductibles. Any attempt to repair it may not require you to pay the deductible, but a total replacement likely would. How much you would pay for the deductible before insurance took over any costs would depend on your plan. Lower deductible plans typically have increased monthly premiums.
We want to give you accurate information. We recommend you check with your specific insurance provider. They’ll know the ins and outs of your policy. It’s a good idea to know your coverage before filing a claim. You don’t want any surprise expenses along the way.
How Much Does an RV Windshield Replacement Cost?
RV windshield replacements are pricey. They can cost between $1,000 to $5,000 in most cases. However, you may only be responsible for a fraction of the total cost if you have insurance. Unfortunately, if your policy doesn’t cover RV windshield replacement, you’ll be on the hook for the full cost.
You must understand the risks of not carrying the proper insurance. By trying to save a few bucks monthly, you could find yourself with a hefty repair bill. Call your provider to clarify whether your RV’s insurance policy covers a replacement.
Pro Tip: Say goodbye to streaky wipers with our guide on How Long Windshield Wipers Last and How to Replace Them.
Choose the Right Replacement Windshield
There’s no one-size fits all windshield for RVs. Which one you’ll need will depend on your rig’s make, model, and year. To ensure you get a proper fit, you’ll need to provide this information to the professional doing the installation.
The technician will likely provide you with an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) or aftermarket option. The OEM will be the same model that came on your rig from the factory. It would be as close as possible to the quality and appearance but would come with a premium price tag and may be hard to come by.
On the other hand, aftermarket windshields can be cheaper, more readily available, and come in different styles. One of the most significant negatives is ensuring a correct fit and the quality of the product. We recommend researching the aftermarket brand and reading reviews from other customers before making up your mind. Many times an aftermarket windshield will be the only available thing for older motorhomes. Because this glass is far less common the original glass if frequently not available.
Whatever path you take, the windshield must meet or exceed the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS). If you’re purchasing from a reputable manufacturer or supplier, they likely will only sell products that meet this standard. However, contacting a third party for a second opinion or additional insight regarding specific options doesn’t hurt.
Understand Windshield Frames and Seals
The windshield frame must be stiff and in good shape. If not, the RV frame can twist too much and cause it to crack. Some RVs are known for experiencing this twisting effect and need a modification to the frame to prevent cracking. This can happen by accident as a result of incorrectly leveling your rig. Make sure you always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations to avoid this issue. Even driving on unlevel terrain can sometimes cause a windshield in a motorhome to crack.
Motorhome Windshield Seals
When it comes to protecting your windshield, you want to maintain your seals, too. Look for signs of cracks or damage. Catching these issues early can help avoid more significant problems down the road. Keep them clean with a soap-water mixture to remove dirt and debris. You can also use seal conditioners to help keep them in shape.
Split vs Single Piece Motorhome Windshields
The design of motorhome windshields can greatly affect the overall driving and living experience. Split windshields, for instance, are made up of two separate panes of glass with a middle dividing seal. One of the main advantages of this type of design is that if a crack or chip occurs on one side, only the damaged side would need to be replaced, saving costs. Furthermore, split windshields often have a more vintage or traditional look, which can be desirable for certain motorhome owners seeking that aesthetic.
On the other hand, single-piece windshields have become the most popular choice in the motorhome industry. They offer an expansive, unobstructed view of the road and surroundings, which is particularly desirable in scenic routes. This seamless vista enhances the driving experience and can make the interior feel more spacious and connected to the outdoor environment. However, one notable drawback is that in case of damage, the whole windshield needs to be replaced, which can be more costly. Yet, many owners believe the benefits of improved visibility and aesthetics outweigh this cost.
If you notice any issues with the seals or frame for your RV windshield, have a professional technician check it out in case you need a replacement. It’s better to be safe than sorry in these situations.
Pro Tip: Install RV windshield curtains for some Extra Privacy and Insulation on the Road.
Is It Illegal to Drive With a Cracked Windshield?
Laws regarding driving with cracked windshields vary by jurisdiction. Some states have stringent rules that prohibit driving with any cracks, and others don’t have any rules. Those that don’t have specific laws fall into the US Department of Transportation regulation.
This federal regulation states that windshield cracks must not be larger than ¾ inches in diameter. In addition, there can’t be two cracks within three inches of one another, connecting cracks, or any restricting the driver’s view.
Again, we encourage you to save yourself the hassle and resolve it as soon as possible. You’re playing with fire if you have to pull out the tape measure to see if you’re under the ¾-inch limit.
Who Can Replace An RV Windshield?
Finding a professional to replace a motorhome windshield requires a bit of research, but the process is quite straightforward. Here are some of the best places to find windshield service:
- Local Auto Glass Repair Shops: Start by searching for local auto glass repair shops in your area. Some of these establishments may have technicians skilled in replacing motorhome windshields. Be sure to ask about their experience with motorhomes specifically, as the windshield size and installation process can be quite different from typical cars.
- Online Directories: You can use online directories or search engines to find specialized service centers. Websites like Yelp or Google Maps can provide ratings and reviews to help you determine the quality of service.
- Dealerships and Manufacturers: If your motorhome is a newer model, contacting the dealership or manufacturer may be beneficial. They can often provide recommendations for repair services that are familiar with their products.
- RV Clubs and Communities: Join local or online RV communities and clubs. These groups often share resources and recommendations based on their personal experiences. Facebook groups for motorhomes or your particular brand can be particularly helpful in identifying repair locations.
- Mobile Auto Glass Services: Some auto glass repair services offer mobile repairs where they come to your location to replace the windshield. This can be especially convenient for larger motorhomes that may be difficult to maneuver in a traditional auto shop setting.
Remember to always ask for a quote before committing to a service, and ensure they offer a warranty on their workmanship and materials.
Tips to Avoid Damage to Your RV Windshield
Generally, it’s best to do whatever you can to avoid damaging your RV windshield. Here are a few tips to consider to help keep your windshield in one piece.
Keep Your Distance
One of the most common culprits of damage is objects on the road. This typically is small rocks, but tires can kick up almost anything. If you think back to driver’s education, they told you to keep three seconds between you and the vehicle in front of you. Increasing the distance between you and other traffic could save your RV windshield from needing a replacement.
You should keep as much as four or five seconds’ distance from drivers in front. This can give time for whatever tosses into the air to hit the ground instead of your windshield. Unfortunately, you should know that other drivers may take advantage of this space when changing lanes. So don’t let it surprise you if drivers cut you off.
Avoid Gravel and Unpaved Roads
Gravel and unpaved roads are some of the worst driving surfaces, especially if there’s a vehicle in front of you. As a result, it’s best if you avoid them altogether. Try to research your route in advance and look for alternative options. Unfortunately, sometimes it will be impossible to avoid them.
Take it slow if you find yourself on a gravel or unpaved road. The faster you drive, the more likely you will kick up rocks and other debris. It can sound chaotic at higher speeds. Rocks will be beating up the inside of your wheel wells, and you’ll want to slow down.
Repair Chips and Cracks Immediately
Repair a chip or crack as soon as you discover it. Ignoring the issue won’t make it magically go away. Unfortunately, this is a situation that only gets worse with time. A small chip can turn into a massive crack before you know it.
If you quickly address it, you can minimize the damage. If it’s a small chip or crack, there are DIY solutions you can try. This typically involves placing epoxy into the impacted area. It is generally a temporary solution to buy you time until you can replace the glass.
Avoid Driving On Very Uneven Surfaces
Driving an RV on uneven surfaces can cause the frame to twist. As we mentioned earlier, twisting in the frame can cause cracks in your RV windshield and require a replacement. This means being mindful of steep slopes that cause your RV to lean from one side to the other.
It’s also crucial to be aware of the weight of your RV. If you’re pushing the limit on your payload capacity and driving across an uneven surface, you’re taking an even bigger gamble. Once you twist the frame, you’re in for an expensive repair.
Inspect Your Windshield Wipers Regularly
Inspecting your windshield wipers should be a part of your routine inspection schedule. These critical items can wear out or fail. When this occurs, you could end up with the metal pieces of your wipers coming in contact with the glass.
Unfortunately, it only takes dragging a piece of metal across the glass to cause permanent damage. This is typically not repairable and will require a total windshield replacement. To avoid this situation, check your wiper blades at least once a month.
Consider a Windshield Protection Coating
There are protective coatings that you can apply to any windshield to protect it from cracks and chips. ShatterX is one practical option. They tested it against 300 MPH, and the windshield resisted chips. At only $34.99 for a year’s worth of protection, it’s worth a shot. It might help you avoid filing a claim with your insurance company for the cost of an RV windshield replacement.
Pro Tip: Keep your camper cool with one of these 5 Best RV Windshield Covers to Protect You and Your RV From the Sun.
Avoid an RV Windshield Replacement
It’s safe to say that you want to avoid dealing with an RV windshield replacement. However, there’s only so much you can do, and sometimes it’s unavoidable. The most crucial thing is that if you experience damage to your windshield, address it immediately. Be proactive and vigilant to protect your windshield and avoid a situation.
Have you checked your insurance policy to see if it covers the cost of an RV windshield replacement? Tell us in the comments!
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