Why do they repair auto glass in YOUR driveway?

Just finished making an appt. to have my windshield repaired. It seems so very odd–the glass repair dude is making a housecall, going to my wife’s workplace to fix the windshield in her parking lot.

I understand that this is common practice … but why? Why is this one area of auto repair performed in the field, while everything else requires you to take your car (or have it towed!) to a repair shop?

Is it sheer ease of repair? My father-in-law mumbled something about the repairman pouring molten glass into the fracture … granted, you don’t need a hydraulic lift, but it still doesn’t seem like kid stuff to me!

Because they can? Most people would wait until the windshield was completely useless before replacing it if it was like a brake job or oil change, and they had to go someplace for an hour or two to have it done. Since the tools & equipment are small-truck portable, they offer to do it in people’s driveways and parking lots so they can get the business.

Because it doesn’t take long or a lot of heavy equipment, not needing real estate. Therefore the mechanic can save on leasing real estate by using yours.

If it’s only a crack being repaired, the general rule of thumb is: Less than the length of a dollar bill (appx. six inches) can be fixed; otherwise you’ll need a replacement, which is usually done in the shop.

Why they come to your house is simple. Driving around, bouncing on the road with all the vibrations of the engine, is going to extend the crack. Your glass is being fixed under insurance, $0 deductible, right? It’s cheaper for the insurance company to pay for the housecall than the new windshield.

A long time ago I got a nice hole in my windshield from a rock thrown up by a truck. Back then most places (in my area at least) weren’t offering to come to you. You had to drive to the repair shop with whatever state your window was in. Fortunately I could still see through the window well enough to get there.

When they started offering to come to your house it seemed like a really good idea to me, well worth the extra money they charged (which wasn’t much). These days I don’t think they bother offering different prices. It’s just become standard.

They use hand tools to replace the window completely. When I had a small rock chip patched it was done in a shop not at home, so I didn’t see the process, but I thought it was some sort of epoxy type thing not molten glass.

When my boyfriend had his window replaced they told him not to drive the car for a few hours afterwards. It was a lot more convenient since they did the repair at his house than it would have been if he’d had to drive it there.

i have had two windscreens replaced under insurance by autoglass in the uk. both were at my home as the breakages occured overnight due to vandalism
i once saw them set up in tesco’s car park doing a free windscreen diagnosis and then repair straight off or wherever you wanted …they didnt screens on hand.
modern car screens pop in with adhesives

If your windshield is completly smashed (a vandal did this to mine once) the car cannot be safely driven. It makes sense for the glass shop to come to you, in this case. Well if they are going to come to you for a completly smashed windshield, they why not for other windows and other repairs?

on the note of repairs i used to get a mobile mechanic to come and tune up my car…at this stage he also checked the shocks and brakes and did a full drum overhaul in my drive
the work was guaranteed for 6 months…in the uk is hometune.
now i have a more modern new car, a vw, all work will be done in the shop to ensure the warranty is not compromised.

Well, I’ve had a number of situations in which my car was so damaged that I couldn’t drive it … but I had to have it towed to a shop. So this argument doesn’t really hold.

It would seem that the “few tools, ease of repair” argument is the one.

To replace a windshield, all the installer requires is a cutting tool, urethane, maybe clips, and the glass. Part of the reason they started replacing glass mobile, place of work, home, was to get the job, independents started this practice, larger corporations joined the competition. Windshield replacement can be a very lucrative business.

Im sure they do it for convience to the customer. Having them come to my place of work to replace a rear window saved me a half day’s pay.

BTY if you have a small crack in your windshield try rubbing some Crazy Glue in the crack (Not with your fingers!) and let things settle overnight. I did this about a year ago and the crack hasn’t grown yet.


Why is this one area of auto repair performed in the field, while everything else requires you to take your car (or have it towed!) to a repair shop?

Because auto glass replacement can routinely be done properly and profitably in the field. Other areas of auto repair generally can not.

The question seems to imply an assumption that there is great commonality in work done on cars just because the work is done on a car. Not so, any more than there is commonality in work done on houses.

You don’t expect plumbers to do electrical work, or electricians to do painting and wallpapering. In a like manner, there are major differences among auto glass, body/paint, and mechanical repair in terms of particular skills, tools, materials/parts, and equipment needed.

Mechanical and body/paint repair (especially painting!) do not lend themselves to field service. Not that it’s impossible, but it’s hardly ever feasible. In contrast, auto glass service poses few obstacles to mobile operation. Much, much less is needed in tools and materials.
Significantly fewer different repair operations are involved. Generally only one part (the piece of glass) is required, and which piece can be accurately determined by the car owner, so the repairman can have it with him without making extra trips. World of difference.

      • I was told by the place I called that they would try to fill anything up to four inches, but anything more than 1/2-inch wouldn’t be guaranteed. And when mine was replaced, the guy just popped off the windshield wipers, cut around it with a linoleum knife, scraped off the old sealant he could, spread new sealant from a squirt-bottle, and dropped the new windshield in, popped the windshield wipers back on and said not to drive it for one hour, slam the doors for four hours or power-wash it for a day–there were no ordinary “mechanic’s tools” involved at all. He said many new cars use front and read windows just glued in now.
  • Mine started out with a small 1/2" crack/chip in the center about four inches from the lower edge. Over a few weeks, every time I used the defroster I could hear the windshield faintly cracking and the crack would get wider until it was just a couple inches from the sides when I had it replaced.
    …? -I dunno what they do for side windows, if they replace them too on-site or not. I forgot to ask…

I think it makes great economic sense. First of all you don’t need a shop. All you need is a pickup truck.

But as someone else noticed, most cars made in the last 30 years have windshields that are held in place by urethane. The urethane has to set over night before the car is driven. If the windshield replacement is done in a shop, the customer has to leave the car overnight. This leads to hassles for the customer, and also to more space requirements for the shop, plus liability risks should the car be vandalized or stolen over night.

All together, coming out to the customer benefits all parties.

I’ll vouch that in-home (or work) service isn’t necessarily more expensive. The normal go-to-the-shop price at a certain store was $450 for a 2002 Ranger windshield. A different company came to my house and did the job for $200, all included. And the $200 windshield was a Ford original (I have to image the $450 windshield would have been, too).

I would want it done at the shop. It has to be done properly. If the window isn’t sealed or put on properly–it’s actually pretty complex, the window won’t support a load when you run into something. This can cause the window to fly out & the cab to not be supported & weaken the interior. I actually saw a Dateline (60 minutes?) TV special on this years ago.

Handy has a good point here. I would absolutely not let a fly-by-night type of operation do my windshield. I do think that it can be done properly in the field, heck, my father’s auto body shop would often call one of those guys to do their windshields, since they’re experts at it, and his guys aren’t.

If the windshield isn’t properly affixed, during an accident, it won’t act properly, and could affect the performance of passenger-side airbags, and the general structural integrity of the car. Not to mention the damage a small leak can do!

I’m not too worried about the quality of in-the-field work – I mean, it’s pretty much the industry standard these days. And I’m getting it done by Safelite ( http://www.safelite.com/ ), which is a huge cororation. Plenty of bucks there in case of lawsuit.

I just found it odd that this is pretty much the ONLY car repair job that is not done in a shop.