It doesn’t take much for a windshield chip to spiral into a much bigger problem. One small nick or shallow indent can eventually become a full-on windshield repair or replacement.
With a larger crack, depending on the damage, it’s almost always best to replace the windshield altogether. If you want to repair, though, it’s important to find what can and can’t be fixed. If you’re doubting your ability to repair a larger problem, it might be best to seek a professional.
The difference between fixing a chip and a crack
You can often fix simple issues, including bullseyes (a small circular indent) and star breaks (spidering legs around a shallow pit). Windshields are made of two layers of glass, sandwiched and fused to an inner plastic sheet. Superficial chips on the outer layer of glass can often be repaired.
It’s when a chip deteriorates into a crack that you’ll have problems. Small cracks mean the break is likely broken through to the inner plastic sheet, and larger cracks can destabilize the entire windshield. In those cases, you’ll have to replace your windshield. The goal is to fix the chip before it becomes a crack.
The location of the issue can determine whether you should repair or replace your windshield. A chip directly in your line of sight will permanently distort the windshield, even after repairs. Any type of damage at the edges can weaken the windshield. With major issues like these, it’s always wise to seek a professional to assess your situation.
Why it’s important to seek a professional in most cases
If you have any major chips or cracks, it’s wise to have your windshield professionally replaced. The cost of replacing it yourself and having a professional do it is comparable. Even if you’re just repairing a chipped windshield, there can be complications following a do-it-yourself fix.
If any dirt has fallen between the glass layers before or during repair, it’ll become a permanent mark. You may even see blemishes following a successful repair. If these imperfections are directly in your line of sight, you’ll have difficulty seeing when driving.
Vehicle repair kits are initially cheaper and can be found in many stores, but they are often ineffective because it’s difficult to determine just how deep the damage goes. There’s no permanent fix for deep damage with a do-it-yourself kit. A professional can gauge the damage and carefully fix problems or replace the windshield altogether.
How to prevent future chips and cracks
It’s impossible to predict what can happen on the road. Something as small as kicked-up gravel can chip or crack your windshield, especially at high speeds.
There are a couple of ways to lower your chances of serious issues. First, avoid extreme temperatures when possible—the temperature difference between the inside and outside of the glass can make your windshield prone to damage. That means parking your vehicle in a garage during the summer and winter.
Don’t drive behind trucks with open or lightly covered beds. An improperly covered or unsecure truck bed is outright dangerous. All it takes is one stone or a fallen piece of debris to bring your windshield down with a crash.
If your windshield is damaged, it will only get worse until you fix it. Start by measuring the damage to determine whether you should repair or replace your windshield. Seek a professional for serious fixes, such as large cracks. Once the job is done, try to avoid higher-risk situations where you’ll likely suffer damage to your windshield.