Among the most inconvenient things that can happen to an RVer is the need to replace their RV windshield. The job is cumbersome at best, and certainly requires being done properly.
But many an RVer have encountered this problem because – well – being on the road does have its hazards, and a rock projected at your windshield is not all that unusual.
So, in today’s post, we’re looking at the reality of damaged RV windshields. Can they be repaired and, if not, how do you replace an RV windshield? We’ll even answer the bonus question: Is this a DIY project the RVgeeks will tackle? Let’s get cracking! (Sorry.)
How Do You Replace an RV Windshield?
Very carefully! Let’s get this out of the way early on in this article. There’s nothing the RVgeeks like more than a good, challenging DIY project. But given the need to replace our windshield (and yes – it has happened – more on that later), we’ll go to the pros – or have the pros come to us, depending on the extent of the damage.
The best way to replace an RV windshield is to have a professional do the job. It’s easier, faster, a whole lot more convenient, and guaranteed to be done right. Moreover, most of us don’t carry the tools needed to replace the large windshield of a motorhome.
As always, safety is a priority for us so while it should go without saying that no one should drive with a shattered windshield or one that’s damaged in such a way as to obstruct the driver’s view, we’ll say it anyway. No one should drive with a windshield that’s damaged in such a way as to obstruct the driver’s view!
Fortunately, for folks in this situation, there are mobile windshield repair and replacement services that’ll come right to your door. All you’ll need to do is make a phone call and (possibly) pay the bill. (More on that in a minute.)
But let’s get to the meaty question at hand here – can you replace an RV windshield as a DIY project?
Can You Replace an RV Windshield Yourself?
Well, actually – you can. But in the words of the fictitious Ian Malcolm played by Jeff Goldblum in the film Jurassic Park, “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.”
In this section, we’ll go ahead and preoccupy ourselves briefly with whether or not you CAN, and talk a bit about how to replace an RV windshield yourself. But, let’s be clear – while there are surely folks out there who’ll take on this ambitious project, we don’t feel that RV windshield replacement typically falls under DIY due to the management and handling of such large pieces of glass, particularly if your RV has a single-piece windshield. It’s also really important that this job is done right.
We’ve observed the job being done by a professional, and while it doesn’t look particularly difficult (we were surprised that one person could do it alone by hand), the consequences of a mistake are pretty substantial, and windshield glass isn’t cheap.
Furthermore, windshield replacement is one of those jobs where the cost of the part (the windshield glass itself) is a substantial part of the total cost of the repair. Some mobile windshield replacement services actually advertise that you’ll be buying the windshield from them and their tech will come out and install it for free! Kind of begs the question as to why anyone would do this themselves, right? But alas – we’re here to answer all the questions, so let’s get to the question of how it’s done.
In case we haven’t made it clear by now, we don’t recommend it, and we’d hope that anyone inclined to take on this project would have some knowledge and experience with windshield replacement.
That said, there are a few places like Windshieldstogo.com that will sell you the glass to install yourself, and they have 750 pick-up locations across the country (but, again, they also offer free installation service at your home or office, sooooo…).
While they don’t specialize in RV windshields, they claim to be able to get glass for most vehicles, buying from major manufacturers. We have no experience with this DIY glass supplier or any other, but we suspect that if you’ve got a large Class A motorhome like ours, traditional glass suppliers may be hard-pressed to provide what you need.
How to Replace an RV Windshield
Essentially, here’s what happens:
The rearview mirror, plastic covers, wipers, and rubber gasket are removed. The urethane seal is cut with a cold knife and the windshield is (carefully!) removed. Excess urethane is removed and the bonding area thoroughly cleaned.
Depending on the product used, a urethane primer may or may not be needed at this point. Following the application of the primer, (if needed), a bead of quality urethane is run around the perimeter and the new windshield is (carefully!) installed. The urethane needs to cure, and all hardware is then replaced along with the rubber gasket.
If you’re wondering why we didn’t report the basic steps of windshield replacement in our typical fashion by listing the tools and parts needed, followed by a thorough step-by-step guide, it’s because (in case we haven’t made this clear) we don’t recommend doing this as a DIY project because your RV windshield is very important to your safety (and the safety of others) on the road.
Now let’s get back to the idea of having a pro replace your RV windshield.
How Much Does RV Windshield Replacement Cost?
The cost of windshield replacement varies dramatically depending on the type of windshield you’re replacing. If you’re replacing the windshield of a Class A RV, or if your windshield has a specialized design, you’ll pay a whole lot more than if your RV is a Class B campervan built on a standard van chassis.
For reference, a standard (non-RV) vehicle windshield generally costs anywhere from $250 to $850 to replace.
The cost to replace the windshield of a Class A RV could run anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000, depending on the RV.
Does RV Insurance Cover Windshield Replacement?
Many RV insurance plans DO cover the complete cost of windshield replacement, minus your deductible. However, not ALL plans cover windshield replacement, and as always it’s important to check your own coverage to know for sure where you stand.
Don’t just assume that your windshield woes are covered. Some insurance companies consider RV windshields to be specialty items, and therefore even comprehensive coverage doesn’t include windshield replacement.
With some insurance companies, comprehensive RV coverage may mention windshield damage (as opposed to replacement). With these plans, you may have to pay a deductible to replace the windshield, but the deductible is waived to repair the windshield. This option would likely depend on the extent of the damage.
Knowing exactly what your plan states is the only way to know whether or not you’re covered.
Can I Repair My Own Windshield?
If you’re dealing with a minor chip in your RV’s windshield, there are indeed products out there you can use to try and fill them, make them less visible, and keep them from getting worse/cracking. But, as with the actual replacement of a windshield, we think you’d be better off going to a professional. They have the tools to properly inspect, prepare, and seal any chips/cracks… and the results will likely be better, less visible, and longer-lasting than anything you could do yourself.
We’ve used Safelite AutoGlass a number of times (they have locations all across the U.S., but if there isn’t one near you, Google “auto glass repair” or “mobile auto glass repair” and add your city/town), and have always been happy with the results. They thoroughly clean the chip/crack, then use a custom-designed vacuum injection system to ensure the (UV-hardened) repair resin penetrates deeply into the chip, which yields the best possible result. We’ve had a couple of chips that Safelite repaired for us that we couldn’t even see once they were done.
If you still prefer to tackle this kind of repair yourself, please note that if the damage to your RV windshield causes any obstruction to the driver’s view whatsoever, getting your windshield professionally repaired or replaced immediately is important from a safety perspective. It’s also important as a practical matter, because if your windshield has minor damage and you continue to drive your RV, time, travel, bumps, and even heat can cause extensive damage to occur. Tiny chips can become extensive cracks, and a repairable issue can quickly become an issue requiring the replacement of your RV windshield.
As for self-repair, there are a few options, and again they’re generally temporary.
If you’re planning to have a professional perform a repair, but want to make sure the results are as good as possible, you’ll want to be sure to keep the chip/crack as clean and dry as possible. One easy way to do that is to immediately cover the crack or chip with clear packing tape, and then get it fixed as soon as possible, before it spreads. If a chip spreads into a crack, it may be too late to save your windshield, so don’t wait!
We had a passing truck throw a stone up and put a nasty bullseye crack in our windshield as we approached Las Vegas. After considerable cursing, we found the nearest Safelite location and drove straight there. An hour after the hit, it was fixed. That stone chip is still in our windshield to this day, but you’d have a very hard time spotting it, since it’s practically invisible now.
One other consideration… if you attempt to repair a stone chip yourself and aren’t happy with the results, any substance you’ve introduced into the chip may prevent a professional from making it as transparent as if you’d brought it to them first. Be forewarned.
If you’d still rather do it yourself, as an emergency temporary repair, super glue like Gorilla Glue or clear nail polish can prevent a chip from becoming a crack if you have some on hand. But, again, this shouldn’t be attempted if the chip causes any obstruction of the driver’s view, or if you plan to go to a pro in short order anyway.
Windshield repair kits with higher quality resin are also available for anywhere from $20 to several hundred dollars, but these are usually a temporary measure as well, and at the several hundred dollar ranges, you’re probably better off seeking the assistance of a professional, since they will almost certainly charge less anyway.
Rain-X and 3M make inexpensive windshield repair kits that are widely available, but they may be cheap for a reason, as a fair number of reviewers have complaints about their effectiveness.
We have NO experience with either product (so we can’t vouch for them), but here they are in case you’d like to try them out for yourself:
- Easy to use - takes only minutes
- Repairs all types of laminated windshields
- Glass resin fills small bull’s eyes and chips to prevent spreading
- Preventative damage control can stop more extensive damage from spreading
Now back to the center point of this article, windshield replacement.
Can a Mobile Repair Company Replace RV Windshields?
We’ve used Wilkinson Glass and can highly recommend them if you’re on the West Coast or in the Desert Southwest. Mike Wilkinson specializes in motorhome windshield replacement, and we can vouch for his professional workmanship.
If you’d like to see it for yourself, here’s a video of Mike installing our double replacement windshields:
If you’re not on the West Coast or in the Desert Southwest, there are three other windshield replacement companies we found online that cater specifically to RVers: RV Glass Solutions, Glass.com, and Mobile RV Glass. Other than Wilkinson Glass, we haven’t used the services of any of the above-named companies ourselves, but they’re representative of the services available to you.
While it may be possible to keep a tiny chip from becoming a large crack at least temporarily, if you ever find yourself with a windshield needing replacement as we have, letting the pros handle the job is really the way to go. They’ve got the tools and the know-how and experience to offer a flawless RV windshield replacement, and they can do it more quickly than you might expect.
Don’t Forget These Bonus Tips:
(1) Whether or not you’ve got any windshield damage today, check your insurance coverage to get a clear view of what’s covered and what’s not, should you ever find yourself in a windshield pickle.
(2) If you hear that fateful <TINK> or <CRACK> sound of a rock/stone causing a chip in your windshield, stop as soon as you can safely do so, and cover it with clear packing tape as soon as possible (assuming it won’t block your field of view while driving). This will ensure that it stays clean (no bugs, rain, snow, road grime, etc). Then get it repaired as quickly as possible to keep it from spreading. That will ensure the best possible outcome from any repair, whether professional or DIY.
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