What Type of Windshield Chips Can be Fixed?

By Katherine Coig


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.

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.

Be sure to visit glass.com for more resources along the way. Check glass.com for companies with certified repair and certified replacement technicians.

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2 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.

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