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Windshield Chip Repair: When Is It Possible?

small windshield chip
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A chipped windshield is a common issue many drivers face. Windshield damage can make driving unsafe by weakening the auto glass or limiting visibility. This article will guide you on when and how to fix chips in your windshield.

Key Takeaways

  • Windshield chips can typically be fixed if they are small, not in the driver’s sight, and depending on their type, like bullseye or half-moon chips.
  • The age, location, size, depth, and exposure to elements affect if a repair is possible.
  • Professional repair methods offer longer-lasting solutions compared to DIY methods.
  • Drivers should replace their windshield if the damage is large or affects vision to ensure safety while driving.
  • Certain types of chips, including bullseye, half-moon, combination breaks, and star breaks often qualify for repairs based on specific conditions.

Understanding Windshield Chips

Windshield chips come in various forms and are caused by different factors. Assessing the type and extent of damage is crucial to determine whether repair is feasible.

Different Types of Windshield Chips and Cracks

Windshields face damage from flying debris and rocks. This damage often appears as chips of various types.

  • Pit: This chip looks like a small crater on your glass surface. It happens when a tiny piece breaks off the outer layer.
  • Bullseye: Round and clear, this type resembles the center target in darts. A rock or other object hitting the window creates it.
  • Half Moon: Similar to a bullseye but not a complete circle, shaped more like a crescent. It’s caused by an impact at an angle.
  • Combination Break: This complex chip includes multiple characteristics, such as cracks coming from a central point of impact.
  • Long Cracks: Cracks over about six inches long might require windshield replacement.
  • Stress Cracks: These appear without an impact, resulting from temperature changes or pressure differences on the windshield’s structure.

Each type affects the window’s integrity differently, influencing repair decisions.

Causes of Windshield Chips and Cracks

Various factors can lead to windshield chips, making it essential to understand them.

  • Rocks and Road Debris: Vehicles ahead fling small stones or debris back at your car, striking the windshield and leaving a chip.
  • Temperature Changes: Sudden shifts in temperature can cause the auto glass to expand or contract quickly, potentially creating cracks.
  • Pressure Changes: Strong winds or heavy objects placed on the auto glass can create enough pressure to crack the surface.
  • Poor Installation: If the windshield isn’t installed correctly, it could be more prone to chipping or cracking
  • Low-Quality Glass: Some windshields use less durable materials that can easily chip.
  • Accidents: Even minor fender benders can send shockwaves through your car’s frame, leading to windshield cracks.
  • Potholes: Driving over potholes can cause vibrations that lead to windshield damage.

Understanding these causes helps drivers take preventive measures, thus maintaining their vehicle’s integrity and safety on the road.

Assessing Windshield Damage

Assessing windshield damage involves identifying the type and extent of chips and cracks, as well as considering factors that influence repair possibilities.

Each type of damage affects the laminated glass differently, and experts use various methods to repair them based on comprehensive insurance criteria for automotive repairs. Windshield repair technicians evaluate factors like the crack’s depth and its location relative to wipers and headlights to ensure safety standards are met.

Factors Influencing Repair Possibility

Deciding whether a chip in your car’s glass can be fixed involves several factors:

  • Age of the Damage: Fresh chips are easier to fix than older ones because they haven’t been exposed to dirt and water.
  • Chip’s Location: If it’s in the driver’s line of sight, repair might not be enough to restore clear vision.
  • Size and Depth: Small and shallow chips often qualify for repair, while larger, deeper ones may require replacing the whole pane.
  • Damage Type: Star breaks, bullseye chips, and partial cracks often can be fixed.
  • Exposure to Extreme Temperatures: Sudden changes can worsen the damage, making repair less likely to succeed.
  • Moisture: Can seep into chips, worsening them over time or during attempted repairs.
  • Previous Repair Attempts: Impact whether another effort will work or if replacement is necessary.

When is Windshield Chip Repair Possible?

Windshield chip repair is generally possible when the chip is small, typically smaller than a quarter, and not in the driver’s line of sight. Certain types of chips, such as bullseye or combination chips, can also be repaired if they are not too close to the edge of the windshield.

Location of Chip

The position of a chip on the windshield can greatly influence repair feasibility. Chips located away from the driver’s line of sight, and any cameras or sensors, are typically easier to repair.

Size and Depth of Chip

The size and depth of a windshield chip are crucial factors in determining whether the damage can be repaired. Generally, chips smaller than a quarter and cracks shorter than three inches can be effectively repaired. Chips that penetrate both layers or exceed certain measurements may compromise safety and necessitate windshield replacement instead.

Types of Chips That Can Be Repaired

Understanding the different types of chips that can typically be repaired is essential:

  • Bullseye Chips: These circular-shaped chips with a dark center can often be repaired when they are smaller in size and the damage is not extensive.
  • Half Moon Chips: These crescent-shaped chips are usually repairable as long as they are not too large or deep.
  • Combination Breaks: These complex patterns of multiple cracks intersecting at a single point can often be repaired depending on their size and extent.
  • Star Breaks: These radial cracks stemming from a central impact point may also qualify for repair if the spread isn’t too extensive.
  • Surface Pit Chips: Small, shallow pits or dings on the surface of the glass can usually be successfully repaired.

Methods of Windshield Chip Repair

When repairing windshield chips, the method often involves patching with windshield resin. Professional repair options, however, offer more advanced techniques for fixing windshield chips.

Patching with Windshield Resin

Windshield resin is a quick and cost-effective option for repairing minor chips and cracks in your windshield. A professional windshield repair technician will inject the resin into the damaged area and then cure it using a UV light, which helps to restore the glass’s strength and clarity. This method can prevent further damage from spreading, potentially saving you from needing a full windshield replacement.

Professional Repair Options

Professional repair options offer a high level of expertise and access to superior materials than do-it-yourself solutions. Professionals typically use specialized equipment and high-grade resins to ensure a durable and effective repair. Moreover, they provide a warranty for their services, offering added peace of mind.

When to Consider Windshield Replacement

Windshield replacement should be considered if the chip or crack is in the driver’s line of sight, if the chip is larger than a quarter, or if cracks are longer than three inches. Damage that compromises the windshield’s structural integrity should prompt immediate consideration of replacement. There are certain other instances when windshields cannot be repaired and should be replaced, but these are general rules of thumb

Conclusion

Assessing the type and size of windshield damage is crucial in determining if repair is possible. Factors such as chip location, depth, and type play a significant role in the decision-making process. It’s essential to prioritize safety and consult with professionals for proper assessment and repair options.

FAQs

  1. What are the criteria for windshield chip repair? The main criteria for repairing a windshield chip include the size and location of the damage. It must be small enough and not directly in the driver’s line of sight, or cameras or sensors, to be eligible for repair.
  1. Should I fix a windshield chip by myself? No, do-it-yourself kits don’t typically offer the same long-lasting results that professional repair can. 
  1. Will my insurance cover windshield chip repair? Some insurance companies will cover windshield chip repair without affecting your premiums. It’s best to check with your insurance agent for details about your policy.
  1. How does tempered glass affect repairs? Since most windshields are made from laminated glass, repairs are possible. Tempered glass repairs aren’t possible since tempered glass is designed to shatter into small pieces on impact.
  1. Do I need professional help to repair a large crack in my windshield? Yes, it’s recommended to seek help from professionals who specialize in auto glass repairs.

 

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

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Morgan Schaafsma

Morgan Schaafsma is an author for Glass.com

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