What Type of Windshield Chips Can be Fixed?

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Repair or Replace?

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

If the damage from the chip in your car windshield 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.

A Look at Windshield Damage Types

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. Some repair standards are beneficial for small chips in your windshield.

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 Auto Glass Chip Repair 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.

Please note, this article may contain links to Amazon products. As an Amazon Associate, earns from qualifying purchases.

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Katherine Coig

Katherine (Kat) Coig, editor of WINDOW FILM magazine, is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University, with a bachelor of science in grammar and English. She is responsible for WINDOW FILM magazine, its e-newsletter, and the award winning FILM’d newscast. As assistant editor of USGlass, she travels to industry events, and writes news and feature articles for the publication. In her spare time, Kat loves to paint (acrylics), and she too is a runner and also has a new-found love of boxing.

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  • My Interlaying plastic has a spider crack with one very long crack extending from in (probably around 12 in) there is not a crack in the interior or exterior glass tho (as nothing catches when I rub my finger on it) the long leg developed a day after the initial crack. I’m guessing due to the crazy Oklahoma heat! What’s the best thing for me to do?

    • Hi Chloe,

      The best option will be to take your vehicle to a local and reputable auto glass shop. They will be able to recommend the best course of action after inspecting the glass in person.

  • I recently had work done on my sunroof and noticed what appears to be small chips in the windshield along the roofline going almost all the way across the windshield. It’s still smooth to touch but very noticeable from the outside. What can cause this?

    • Hi Jerry,

      It is likely a coincidence that you are just now noticing these chips after the sunroof installation. It’s common for a windshield to accumulate extremely small chips over time which are usually caused by small rocks, pebbles, and other road debris. Sometimes these chips are noticeable when driving in direct sunlight as they can cause a serious glare. However, I am just going off of your description and if you believe these chips are large enough to spread, cause a compromise in the structural integrity of your windshield, or distort your view while driving, then you should have the windshield evaluated in person by a reputable glass shop. Thanks for the question!

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