Windshield Chipped or Cracked? How to Tell the Difference

Difference between Windshield Chipped and Cracked

Imagine it’s a beautiful day out and you’re driving down the highway soaking in all that surrounds you. You’re two exits from your destination, and suddenly a truck full of loose gravel pulls in front of you. Before you have a chance to change lanes, a rock flies out and comes hurdling toward your windshield - SMACK!

A quarter-sized crack appears on the right upper corner of your front windshield, and immediately, you spiral down a dark decline into thoughts of repair rates and rising insurance premiums. Will you have to leave your car at a glass shop or can you live with the damage? Is the cost of repair large enough to reach your deductible or do you have to pay out of pocket? Does the damage warrant a repair or a full windshield replacement? Faced with questions only an expert technician can answer, you are overwhelmed as you turn off at the exit and park your vehicle.

Take a Breath and Follow These Steps

First, take a deep breath and be thankful you were able to make it off the road, safely. The initial threat is over and you now have time to assess the damage and make a sound decision. It is possible the problem isn’t as big as it seems. Review the checklist below to help identify the extent of the casualty to your car or truck.

Assessing the damage:

  • Is the chip or crack longer than the length of your credit card?
    • If you answered ‘yes’, you will need a replacement.
  • Does the damage go all the way through the glass?
    • If you answered ‘no’ you may just need a quick repair.
  • Where does the damage fall - is it in the driver’s line of vision?
    • If you answered ‘yes’, a full replacement is warranted.
  • Is the damage enough to meet your comprehensive deductible?
    • Either way, it is a good idea to get it fixed.

Determining the depth of the problem is the first step toward fixing your vehicle. Next, you will need to call a trustworthy windshield repair and replacement business to verify your findings, get a quote and secure a plan of action.

Windshield Repair vs. Replacement

If the damage appears to be minimal - a chip or crack smaller than the length of your credit card and out of the driver’s direct line of vision - there’s a good chance you can get away with a repair instead of needing a whole new windshield. Repairs of this kind require an application of adhesive where alternating cycles of vacuum and pressure push adhesive into the crack and displace air from the bottom of the crack.

Repairable Windshield/Windscreen Chips

Minimal windshield damage consists of bulls eye chips, half-moon chips, combo breaks and star breaks. Click here to view images of repairable chips and cracks. If you identify the damage to your vehicle as minimal, you can choose to try out a simple adhesive kit or find a same day glass repair shop like Glass America that will come to you at no extra cost.

Luckily, a windshield repair is a convenient and cost-effective fix for your car. Although it may seem like a minor chip won’t do much harm, the problem can compound if water leaks through or freezes up inside the crater. Surface tension can pull water in and moisture can delaminate the glass from the center membrane, causing more damage. It is best to have your windshield fixed as soon as possible so the damage doesn’t get worse.

Non-Repairable Windshield / Windscreen Damage

Windshield damage that requires a full replacement consists of large impact breaks, single hard impact breaks and multiple impact/compound breaks. Click here to view images of non-repairable windshield damage. A good glass repair and replacement shop will offer OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) quality glass with a lifetime warranty on workmanship as well as reasonable rates.  OEM Glass gives you the same features you had in your old windshield like automatic wipers when it rains, sun screen and even the back-up display.

Not all cracks are created equal, and a small crack can grow over time to require a full windshield replacement, so even if the damage is minimal, a quick repair can ensure a less costly expense overall. Whether your vehicle is in need of a windshield repair or a full windshield replacement, call Glass America today at (877) 220-1724 and have an expert come to you!