What Type of Windshield Chips Can be Fixed?


Repair or Replace?

Not all chips are created equal; they come in many shapes and sizes. Assessing the type of damage incurred is essential to determine if your windshield can be repaired. And size and location will be the two most important factors that a technician will examine before advising a repair or a replacement.

Take a Look at the Chip

Location, location, location. You hear it all the time when it comes to purchasing a home, but did you know the location of a chip is important when determining if your windshield can be repaired?

If the damage extends to the outer edge of the windshield, it’s more likely you’ll need a replacement since the structure of the glass may have been compromised. The same holds true if the chip is within the Driver’s Primary Viewing Area (DPVA) since some amount of distortion is unavoidable, even after a repair. The DPVA is usually defined as the area in the windshield wipers’ sweep on the driver’s side.

So, What’s the Damage?

This is where it gets a little technical. There are many forms of windshield damage though you’ll most often hear “chip” or “crack.” A chip is a general term that refers to small damage on a windshield, whereas a crack of damage is a distinct line that runs across the windshield. According to the Repair of Laminated Automotive Glass Standard (ROLAGS), there are six basic types of damages with different repair standards.

1. Bullseye: Damage that is marked by a separated cone in the outer layer of glass that results in a dark circle with an impact point.

Can it be fixed? Usually if the diameter is an inch or smaller and there’s no dirt in the head and it’s not in the driver’s field of vision.

2. Combination Break: Damage with multiple characteristics, i.e., star within a bullseye, short or long crack(s) stemming from the damage.

Can it be fixed? Usually if the diameter of the body (excluding legs, or subsurface breaks), does not exceed two inches.

3. Crack: Single line of separation that may start from an impact point.

Can it be fixed? Sometimes if it’s 14 inches or less and not in the driver’s field of vision.

4. Half Moon: Partial bullseye

Can it be fixed? Usually if the diameter is an inch or smaller.

5. Star Break: Damage that has a series of legs stemming from the break.

Can it be fixed? Sometimes, if the diameter of the break doesn’t exceed three inches and it’s not in the driver’s field of vision.

6. Surface Pit: A nick in the glass associated with normal wear and tear that does not penetrate to the plastic interlayer (middle layer of the glass sandwich).

Can it be fixed? If the damage has a diameter of not less than 1/8 inch. Be cautious however, many small pits do not require a repair if the damage is too extensive.

When it’s Time to Replace

There are a few chips that can’t be repaired, and therefore will likely require a replacement. Here are some of those exceptions:

Damage that penetrates both the outside and inside layer of the laminated glass (remember, your windshield is like a sandwich: outside lite, plastic interlayer, inside lite).

If the damage has three or more long cracks (longer than 6 inches) from a single point of impact.

The chip is on the inside of the glass (in the passenger cabin) as opposed to on the outside of the windshield.

The damage has visible impurities that cannot be removed through cleaning.

There’s damage or discoloration to the plastic interlayer.

The chip has a pit-size greater than 3/8-inch.

The chip is in the DPVA and has a diameter larger than one inch; the finished pit will be greater than 3/16-inch; or the repair will be within 4 inches of another repair.

Note: a trained repair technician will be able to judge if a repair will affect the vehicle’s proper operation. In that case, he or she will a recommend a replacement.

Get an Estimate

Leave it to the Experts

Remember, it’s best to have a certified technician examine any chip on your windshield. Since technicians have a trained eye to assess damage, they’re best to consult with when it’s time for a windshield repair. You may even learn you need a replacement if the damage is extensive.

© 2017 Glass.com Inc. All Rights Reserved. No reproduction without expressed written permission.

Questions? Contact info@glass.com.

20 responses to “What Type of Windshield Chips Can be Fixed?”

  1. I recently noticed a chip in my windshield that had me a little worried. I have heard that a chip in your windshield can actually expand across your windshield. I’ll definitely take the article’s suggestion and have an auto glass technician assess the damage and determine if it’s time for a repair or not.

  2. Thanks for helping me learn more about chips in windshields. I actually didn’t know about surface pits, or that they can only be fixed if the damage is less that 1/8 inch in diameter. I’m a bit interested to learn on some of the tricks you can use to measure this out, especially if if the damage will need to be fixed immediately.

  3. So my windshield is cracked on the outside but not the inside due to a recent fender bender I was in. Do I need a whole new windshield or…

    • Jae,

      It would be best to have the damage looked at by an auto glass professional (use Glass.com to find one) who will be able to assess whether it can be repaired, or if it needs to be replaced. The fact that is has not cracked all the way through is a good sign. But if it is in your field of vision while driving, extends to the edge of the windshield, is larger than a dollar bill, or a number of other factors, it will likely need to be replaced.

  4. i just noticed a chip in my windshield and a line running from it below where the wipers are should i be worried. I need help very nervous.

  5. Hiya!
    I just transported a pvc pipe inside my car and it cracked the windshield… inside, with a gentle tap!
    Is this fixable? I was thinking resin… your input is much appreciated. THanks

    • Charles, take your vehicle to a reputable local auto glass shop. They will be able to tell you whether it can be repaired or if it needs replacement. You should not attempt an at home repair using resin.

      Thanks for the question!

  6. Hi, i have a chip in my front windshield and a little crack forming underneath. The thing is, the crack is not in contact with the chip itself as it seems it’s inside the glass. This means that i can’t fix it by pouring resin into it as their is no hole into the small crack. Can i fill the chip and leave the crack be as it is?

    • Thanks for the question Lund. It’s never a good idea to leave a crack unfixed. It will eventually expand and in the meantime it could be compromising the windshield’s integrity. The best thing to do it take it to a local reputable glass shop and have them inspect the damage. You can use our site to do so by typing in your zip code on https://www.glass.com/auto

  7. It’s good to know what windshield cracks and chips can be repaired. I’ve noticed a combination break in mine and I’m glad that it can be fixed. The cracks off it aren’t longer than an inch, so it should be good!

  8. It’s really interesting that you mentioned that a crack can be fixed if it’s 14 inches or less and not in a driver’s field of vision. I always thought that cracks couldn’t be fixed at all. I will keep this in mind if I ever get another crack in my windshield. Thank you!

    • Thanks Gerty, we’re glad you found the article valuable! Keep in mind though, not all cracks under 14 inches can be repaired. Each crack should be evaluated by a professional on a case by case basis to determine if it can be repaired or not.

  9. I thought it was really interesting how you pointed out that location of a chip matters when it comes to whether or not it can get replaced. I have a large chip on the driver’s side of my windshield. I’ll look at getting it replaced like you suggest to ensure there is no impairment.

  10. Hello.
    I was behind an old truck and not even in the same lane but the result was a sand blasted type chips. Very light like dots but in the glass and paint chips. Can a windshield be resurfaced to remove these micro chips .

  11. I have a straight line crack and there is no visible damage. It appears to have started from the very left edge and went inward about 15-20 inches. No chip. No dimple. No crater. Is this repairable in your opinion?

  12. Lots of good information here, however as someone who has been in the glass industry for 37 years doing replacements and repairs and the owner of a glass company, I would have to disagree with #3 on repairing a crack. IMO, as the acrylic resin used to fill the repair is much stronger than the glass itself in an accident it can become a dangerous situation. If the occupant hits the windshield the glass surrounding the repair can give and the acrylic will not creating a “sword” thus could cause additional harm. To my knowledge this is not proven, but is why we do not do “crack” repairs.

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