You’re driving along, and suddenly, something hits your windshield. You’re safe, but now you have an unsightly windshield crack.
Unfortunately, chipped or cracked windshields can be relatively common. Debris from the road can hit your windshield unexpectedly and lead to lasting damage.
While it’s not fun to deal with, it’s possible to repair your windshield. Here’s how.
What are car windshields made of?
Windshields are composed of three layers to offer safety and protection. Often, two layers of curved glass cover a layer of plastic vinyl.
The layering helps to keep the windshield intact when objects hit the windshield. The goal is to prevent debris from making it all the way through. The setup makes it more likely that debris and other objects will hit the surface, causing minor damage like chips or cracks in the windshield instead of shattering or hurting you.
When is windshield-crack repair a good idea?
If you have a small cracked windshield that is mostly cosmetic, you may think it’s no big deal. However, it’s generally a good idea to keep your windshield in the best condition you can. In fact, not repairing your windshield may even be illegal.
In many states, it is illegal to drive with a cracked or broken windshield, according to the Insurance Information Institute. The institute continues: “Not only is such damage covered by your comprehensive policy, many companies offer the option of no-deductible coverage for glass damage specifically.”
If you have a chipped or cracked windshield, it’s a good idea to see if your insurance coverage can cover the repair.
If the crack is beyond repair, you’ll need to replace the windshield glass completely. A full replacement is also a good idea if the crack is more than a few inches long, if the crack or chipping is deep, or if any damage is close to the edge of the windshield.
Common culprits behind windshield cracks
There are many culprits behind a windshield crack. Windshield cracks can be caused by:
- Debris from the road, such as rocks or stones
- Litter or debris
- Nails, bolts, and other sharp objects
- Birds or other animals, including insects
With enough velocity or force, all of these items can damage your windshield and lead to cracks.
Different types of windshield damage
Just like various things can crack your windshield, there are also different types of windshield cracks and damage. Some common types of windshield damage include:
If a small item creates a small indentation in your windshield glass, you have a chipped windshield. These chips aren’t particularly harmful and are more cosmetic but can expand into an unsafe crack if not taken care of quickly.
Stars are chips that have tiny grooves that emerge from the chip. The damage is often shaped like a star and can be relatively easy to fix.
Cracks may have a bullseye pattern with a ring around a central hole similar to a dartboard.
Cracks can be caused by environmental stress, such as extreme weather or temperatures. Some cracks may appear near the edge of the windshield.
You’ll want to be careful with any floater cracks or cracks that develop away from the windshield’s edges, as those can be made worse by heat or cold.
Large windshield cracks that take up a lot of space on your windshield need to be replaced as soon as possible. Windshield cracks of two inches or more can be dangerous.
How to repair a cracked windshield
If you’re stuck with windshield damage, you can use filler to fix your cracked windshield or replace your windshield entirely.
Fillers are generally resin or glue that fill in the damaged part. If your windshield has a large crack that can’t be fixed with a filler, a replacement will be necessary.
If your chipped or cracked windshield is small, you can use filler to make the repair. Here’s how:
1. Clean your windshield area with window cleaner. Avoid the crack.
2. Remove any loose glass or debris from the area.
3. Place the filler or resin injector above the chip and fill in the cracks on the glass.
4. Remove any excess air from the chipped glass.
5. Wait for the resin to set with the sun or a UV light.
6. After you fill the crack, put the remaining resin into any divots left.
7. Place a layer of plastic over the resin, and remove any air bubbles.
8. Carefully remove the plastic by pressing down on the corners. (Make sure you don’t remove any resin.)
10. Use a razor blade to remove any excess filler, if needed.
The bottom line
If your windshield is damaged, you can use filler or resin to complete the repair yourself. However, if your crack or chip is two inches or more, you may need to replace your entire windshield.
Your car insurance coverage might cover the repair or replacement. If you have comprehensive coverage with Metromile, you won’t have to pay a deductible if the glass is repairable. In some states, you can also add $0 deductible glass coverage for windshield replacements.
Melanie Lockert is a freelance writer, podcast host of the Mental Health and Wealth show, and author of Dear Debt. She’s a cat mom to two jazzy cats, Miles and Thelonious, an amateur boxer, music lover, and needs coffee to function.