Chip, crack, pit, break…it’s all the same: damage to your windshield. Right?
There are many different types of windshield chips and cracks. This matters, because the type of damage to your windshield determines whether it can be repaired or has to be replaced.
Today, we’re covering all things chips and cracks. We’ll talk about which are which, how to prevent them, and which types of damage can be repaired.
Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about what kind of chip or crack your windshield has!
Types of Windshield Damage
We divide windshield damage into two broad categories: chips and cracks. (Also, it’s possible to have a combination of both on your windshield.)
Fun fact: your front windshield is tough. Really tough! It’s made of laminate glass, which is actually several panes of glass separated by a layer of plastic. Front windshields are designed not to shatter into sharp pieces (which is very important for safety).
Chips happen when something like a small rock or piece of debris hits the glass. The glass doesn’t shatter. Instead, tiny pieces of glass “flake off,” resulting in a chip. You will almost always find chips on the outer layer of your front windshield.
There are several different types of chips:
- Chip (pit): A chip is a small piece of glass missing from the windshield. The “pit” is the area where the glass is missing.
- Bulls-eye: Larger than a chip, a bulls-eye is an area of damage that is dark-colored and circular-shaped, with an impact hole.
- Half moon (partial bulls-eye): Like a bulls-eye, a half moon is a dark-colored area of damage, but it isn’t completely circular.
- Combination break: This involves a combination of different types of damage (for example, a chip with cracks radiating out from it).
Cracks can form on any piece of glass in your car. They can form on laminate glass (what your front windshield is made of) and tempered glass (what most back windshields and windows are made of). That said, they’re most often found on the front windshield.
Unlike chips, cracks aren’t caused by an impact. Instead, cracks can happen in the glass from sudden changes in temperature or pressure, installation defects, and excess sunlight. Cracks can also happen as a result of chips “spreading.”
Cracks can form in the inner or outer layer of your front windshield.
There are several different types of cracks:
- Edge crack: An edge crack is a crack that starts within two inches of the edge of the windshield or reaches the edge.
- Floater crack: This type of crack starts anywhere in the middle of the windshield (not near the edges).
- Stress crack: A stress crack typically happens after a large or sudden variation in temperature. (For example, using hot water to melt the ice off your car’s windshield in the winter can result in stress cracks.)
- Crack chip: This (admittedly confusingly named) crack is one that can be covered by a quarter.
- Long crack: As the name says, a long crack is longer than a crack chip: more than six inches in length.
- Star break: A star break is a series of cracks radiating from one chip, giving it the look of a star.
How to Avoid Chips and Cracks
Not all chips and cracks are avoidable. Life happens! However, there are a few things we recommend to reduce your risk of windshield chips and cracks.
To avoid chips, we recommend that you:
- Drive carefully on gravel roads. The faster you drive, the more you kick up rocks that might hit your windshield, so drive slowly and carefully.
- Leave space between you and the car in front of you. This isn’t just a safe driving practice: it will also reduce the likelihood that your windshield will be hit by rocks and debris kicked up by the car in front of you.
- Don’t follow dump trucks or any other utility vehicle. When you can avoid it, don’t drive behind any vehicle hauling trash or debris. Anything that falls out of that vehicle could end up hitting yours.
- Park indoors (or shelter your vehicle). Use a garage whenever you can, whether it’s your home garage or a public one. If you don’t have access to a garage, consider a car cover to protect your car from rocks, hail, sticks, and more.
To avoid cracks, we recommend that you:
- Avoid temperature extremes. When melting snow and ice off your car, turn up your defroster slowly. (And whatever you do, don’t pour hot water on the glass!) Also avoid parking in areas where the sun is beating down on your vehicle.
- Check for chips regularly. Cracks can occur from chips, where the windshield is already damaged and weaker. To prevent a chip from turning into a star break and long crack, get the chip fixed ASAP.
Can the Damage Be Repaired?
Can the damage to your windshield be fixed? Well, it depends on the type of damage.
We’d have to look at your windshield to give you an exact answer. But generally speaking, the damage to your windshield can be repaired if it fits the following criteria:
- The damage is roughly the size of a quarter or smaller.
- Your windshield has fewer than three chips.
- The crack does not reach the edge of your windshield.
If the damage is extensive—for example, your windshield is covered in chips, has a very large chip, or has cracks to the edge of the glass—it can’t be repaired. Instead, the windshield will have to be replaced. This is unfortunate, but necessary: your windshield is a big part of the structural integrity of your car, and a cracked windshield can be a major liability in a car accident.
That’s why we strongly recommend you get chips fixed right away. A chip left unfixed can weaken your windshield and cause cracks to form. Don’t let a small, easily repaired chip turn into a large crack requiring a full windshield replacement!
(Oh, and if you’re thinking about turning your windshield damage into a DIY project, be sure to read this helpful article DIY Windshield Repair: Is It Safe? first!)
Need Windshield Repair or Replacement?
Whether your windshield needs to be repaired or replaced, we’ve got you covered.
Our certified technicians make it quick and easy to get your windshield in top shape. We’ll even come to you and work directly with your insurance company.
Call us today for expert windshield repair and replacement.