Getting a cracked or chipped windshield isn’t the end of the world (or your paycheck)—assuming you address it right away. It’s very common and if it’s a small enough chip it can be easily fixed for a low cost in less than a minute. In fact, many insurance policies cover these minor dings without it impacting your rates or having you pay a deductible at all or you can find a great windshield crack promotion at reputable shops. However, things can go bad quickly if drivers don’t take swift action.
There are many causes of cracks and chips, whether it was a rock falling off a service truck, debris on the road “kicked up” by the car in front of you, or the neighborhood kids playing golf a little too close to your daily commuter. Oftentimes, if something hits the perimeter of a windshield, it can lead to a massive crack, but if the center glass is hit, that can mean a “starburst crack.”
From Bad to Worse
Crack type is determined by where on the windshield the object hit. “Floater cracks” can happen anywhere that’s farther than about two inches from the perimeter. They can be small but spread over time. “Edge” cracks are generally about a foot long and can form at impact. Aptly named, these cracks occur close to the edge of the windshield within two inches of the edge.
Other times a chip can turn into a crack. For the most part, cracks which are smaller than six inches can be fixed so there’s no need for windshield replacement. What most people don’t realize is that there are several types of cracks, and each one might require a different approach to fix. For example, there’s the “Bull’s Eye” which happens when a circular object makes the impact, and basically looks like a bigger chip.
Types of Cracks
A Combination Break is the name for several cracks and chips. A Ding is what many people say when they mean a chip. There’s also the Half Moon, which is kind of like a Bull’s Eye but not perfectly circular. It’s officially a Long Crack when it’s longer than six inches and almost always requires a replacement. The Stone Break usually begins as a chip but is solely caused by a stone or rock.
Finally, there’s the Stress Crack. This can happen without the windshield being impacted by anything, and temperature extremes or swings are often to blame. If a car gets overheated simply idling in the sun, if the A/C is blasted too high and too long, or if you make the mistake of removing frost by pouring boiling water on it, Stress Cracks can happen. These cracks are mostly straight and can be tested with a pen—simply run a ballpoint pen across the crack and if it doesn’t dip, it’s a stress crack (with a stress crack, glass isn’t actually missing).
Seek a professional auto-glass repair tech to fix windows and if they advise you to have the window replaced, do it. Sometimes a crack can form between pre-existing chips and cause a window to fail quicker than you’d think.