Windshields face a constant risk of damage from road debris or other vehicles. Windshield repair and damaged auto glass in general are actually the most commonly filed insurance claims — making up almost 30% of all auto insurance claims. But how do you know when to repair your windshield or have it replaced? Below, we’ll look at some of the common types of windshield damage and why each calls for either windshield repair or replacement.
Cracks and Chips
There are six main types of cracks and chips. A crack refers to a line in the glass which can get worse over time, while a chip refers to a small point of damage, typically caused by rocks or similar debris. According to the National Windshield Repair Association, cracks under 14-inches long and chip damage under 2-inches deep are generally repairable. This is good news as cracked or severely chipped windshields present a hazard since they obscure the view of the road and other drivers.
- Bullseye – A bullseye is a specific kind of break, in which debris penetrates the first layer of glass and leaves a cone in the windshield with a much deeper impact point.
- Stars – Star breaks refer to a chip in the windshield that has several cracks radiating from a central impact point, resembling a star or an asterisk.
- Combination – Combination breaks have multiple characteristics, and often mean extensive damage has been done.
- Half Moon – Half moon cracks, or half-bullseye cracks, are generally repairable and not likely to spread new cracks from the initial impact point.
- Surface Pit – Surface pit breaks are common and relatively harmless unless they begin to spread across the windshield. These breaks are generally shallow since they don’t penetrate the second layer of the windshield.
- Stress Cracks – Stress cracks can form from rapid and/or extreme temperature variations. These cracks are usually straight and begin from the corner of the windshield.
The Bottom Line
There are many different kinds of cracks and chips that can damage your windshield and even make it dangerous for you to drive. Generally speaking, if a crack is longer than 14 inches or a chip is more than two inches deep, it’s best to replace the entire windshield. Under these relative thresholds though, most damage can be repaired. In any case, it’s important to have any cracks or chips in your windshield addressed as soon as possible.