Motorhome Windshield Replacement

TheRVgeeks Miscellaneous 18 Comments

Among the undesirable sounds an RVer never wants to hear while rolling down the highway, a “crack” as another vehicle passes by is surely among them. You know… the sound a flying stone makes when it hits glass? Depending on how loud it is, the next thing you hear might be your heart pounding in your ears as you scan the view ahead, looking for a stone chip. Hopefully, the third sound you hear won’t be that of flying expletives.

As a former professional driving instructor, who spent many years training motorcoach operators in a large city, my internal auto-pilot maintains an extra-long following distance. But there are simply times when there’s no way to prevent a stone from striking the front of your rig. You can’t stop other vehicles from passing you on multi-lane highways, and you certainly have no control over oncoming traffic on secondary roads. When you spend so much time on the road, stone chips are a risk that goes with the territory.

Whether the stone hits the glass vs. the bodywork is the luck of the draw. Of course, a tall bus-like windshield like ours tilts the odds more in favor of “glass” since the target is larger.

Earlier this year, a truck sailed past with a “crack” that really made us jump. It sounded as though the Rock of Gibraltar had just hit our windshield. We scanned the glass feverishly, sure that it must have been broken, but we didn’t spot a thing. Could we have been that lucky?

About a half hour later, after having forgotten about our “Gibraltar” encounter, we spotted it. Creeping up from behind the highest part of the dash, right behind the steering wheel, there it was – a crack that had started right at the base of the windshield (where the stone hit) and was already over a foot long.

We didn’t replace the windshield ourselves, but documented the process as a professional did the job. If you’re on the West Coast or in the Desert Southwest, and you’re in need of a windshield, Mike Wilkinson of Wilkinson Glass did a great job for us, and we highly recommend his services. He comes right to your site, so you don’t even have to move your RV.

Check out Mike’s website for details: rvwindshieldglass.com

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Comments 18

  1. Gents – Thanks for the referral on Wilkinson Glass! A recent run in with a semi filled with 3/4″ gravel “bullseye” whacked my ’05 Fleetwood Southwind’s windshield. AAA is always great to be insured with, but my experience with Wlikinson Glass was as good if not better! Mike and Ryan sweated through a 3HR job in 100 degree heat here in SoCal with ease! Fellow “Geek Fans” on the West Coast – Wilkinson Glass will competently take care of you in a timely personal manner!

    Thanks to RVGeeks for a great referral and the service you provide all of us – enabling we owners to cut cost by doing our own servicing that RV Repair shops gouge us $90-105/HR to accomplish. We all appreciate it!

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      Author

      Hi Brian! Thank you so much for letting us know what a great experience you had with Wilkinson Glass. So glad we could give you a good steer. Not much worse than the awful crunch of a rock smacking the windshield, but so glad you had a happy ending to the story. Mike is the best!

  2. Gives me the willies thinking about it. Our no longer manufactured coach (Euroliner) uses a custom made windshield by a company no longer in business. I can picture being in a far away place for a long time waiting for a windshield.

    Thanks for the info on fixing stars. It makes sense to do them ASAP to keep the crud out. The ones on my windshield have been there a long time, and they’re not spreading, but I’d like to get them filled and now I know the proper question. “Do you use pressure to fill it?”

    Thanks.

  3. Your amazement at Mike’s expertise reminded me of one of my dad’s favorite stories/jokes: It involves a rather miserly man who was always on the lookout for ways to add to his already large fortune. The opportunity presented itself when the man purchased an old, locked safe from the estate of another rather miserly old skinflint.

    Knowing that the possible payoff would be more than what he would pay to have the safe opened professionally, the tightwad called a locksmith who arrived in a couple of hours. The locksmith scratched his chin and head a couple of times, retired to his truck and returned with a high‑speed drill and dimond bits. In thirty minutes, he had drilled two holes in the face of the safe, at the ten o’clock and two o’clock positions of the tumbler dial. He picked up two bent pieces of metal with notches in the ends… similar to allen wrenches. He inserted the probes into the holes, jiggled them around a bit until a loud “click” was heard. He then removed the slim-jims, operated the safe’s handle and, voilà! The door opened!

    Unfortunately, there was nothing in the safe. His contemporary, so it seemed, had “found a way to take it with him.” But, the old guy knew he still had to pay the locksmith for his services. “How much do I owe you?” he asked.

    “Eighty-five dollars,” was the reply.

    “EIGHTY-FIVE DOLLARS!” he shouted. “That’s robbery! You’ve only been here for thirty minutes! I want an itemized bill for your services!” he demanded.

    “Alright,” the locksmith agreed and went to his truck again, returning with a “bill” handwritten on the back of a blank envelope. It said:

    Charge for drilling two holes in safe @ $5.00 each: $10.00
    Charge for knowing WHERE to drill holes in safe: $75.00

    He was paid $85.00.

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      Author

      You are a wise man, John! There was indeed more to this the job that it appeared, despite Mike making it look so easy. If we ever need another windshield, we still won’t do it ourselves, because we don’t know where to drill the hole. ;-)

  4. On the stars/chips that I’ve repaired with the kits none have continued to spread, but most were still very visible after the repair. A couple were pretty invisible after the repair but not all. As said above, over time and temperature swings the crack could and probably will extend, especially with winter temps and the inside heater blowing. I would repair the chip as soon as possible. I also have had good luck with safelite glass replacing a windshield.

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    Author
  6. A star is fairly easy to repair with the small repair kits from Walmart
    . It is the small chips that start at the edge of the windshield that split.
    Had Wilkinson Glass replace my windshield in Palm Springs – very happy with their professional job..

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      Author
  7. What about the windshield chip/crack repair kits that can be bought at many auto parts stores. Probably not as good as a professional pressure repair but are they any good? I’ve used such repair on several chips on my car and once on my RV. So far they have worked.

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      Author

      Hi Bobby. I don’t have any personal experience with those kinds of kits, but I’ve heard they’re pretty good at filling a star/chip and stopping it from spreading into a crack. Glad they’ve worked for you. I just don’t know how good they are at making it less visible. What has your experience been with that?

      I’m a little biased when it comes to this because I used to work at a car dealership, and a guy used to come through and fill windshield stars on used cars and customers’ cars every week or two. He attached a device over the star that was connected to an air compressor. The outer ring would suction itself to stay in place, and the center ring would be pressurized right over the star. He would then inject the clear filler into the center ring, which would push the filler deep into the star under pressure. It did an amazing job of making most stars and chips vanish almost completely.

      When we got our first bad rock chip in the RV about 9 years ago, I had a local guy come to the campground we were staying in to fill it. I watched him work, and was surprised that he didn’t use any kind of vacuum/pressure device. When he was done, the star looked exactly the same. No improvement in appearance at all. It never spread over the years, but once he had filled it some, there was no way to inject filler more deeply into the star, so I lived with it being very visible all these years until Mike replaced the windshield this year.

      That same windshield section had taken another very bad stone hit last year and this time I took it to Safelite and had it professionally filled immediately. It was amazing how hard it was to find after being clearly visible 30 minutes before!

  8. I have a cracked windshield that hasn’t spread since May. It is not blocking my vision at all. We are debating on replacing it now or ride it out until it gets worse. Are there downsides to waiting a while?

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      Hi Bill. If it’s been there a long time and hasn’t spread, even while driving, it might not spread any further. But you never know. Temperature swings or leveling on an usually sloped campsite, or some other stress factor could cause it to spread. We were on a somewhat tight schedule on a long trip and needed to stop a rapidly-spreading crack from expanding, just to buy some time before the inevitable windshield replacement. So we stopped into a windshield shop and asked them if they thought they could stop it from continuing to spread by drilling into the the glass at the very tip of the crack (the other end went right down to the edge of the glass), and filling the end of it like a star. The guy used a dremel tool at the very, very tip of the crack (took him all of 10 seconds) and then filled it. Stopped the crack dead in its tracks and we then drove about another thousand miles before replacing the windshield. The guy only charged me $29. I’m not a glass expert, and maybe some wouldn’t recommend this temporary solution, but it worked for us! :)

  9. Thanks! Coming back from Camp Verde in Phoenix a truck went flying around us and a rock hit hard! A crack about an inch on either side of the hit. It hasn’t gotten bigger & is not in my direct line of sight. It is a huge one piece like a picture window. :-(

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      Hi Don & Bobbi. How long ago did this happen? We had the same experience twice, and both times we had the star filled promptly. If you haven’t already done that, you should consider it. When done properly (under pressure) it’s not just amazing how much better the glass can look, but it usually will prevent it from spreading into a crack, thereby saving the windshield. The last time we had it done was last winter at Safelite Glass in Avondale, AZ, but they have locations all over the place. They really know what they’re doing, they get the job done fast, and it’s not very expensive. The sooner you do it the better, before debris and moisture gets into the crack. Until we could get to them, we covered the star with a piece of clear packing tape right after it happened. When they were done, what had been a really horrible star was almost invisible. Just a thought that could save you from having to get a new windshield.

        1. My guy Dave @ LaMesa in Tucson got it filled – the windshield guy said it could make it worse, but it did not spread. We will see what happens over the winter, or what passes for winter here :-) $25 seemed worth the gamble, just never heard of filling it could make it worse – learn something every day

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