Between gravel that falls from construction trucks and debris that gets kicked up from other vehicles on the road, your windshield takes a beating while you’re driving. Sometimes this can cause chips or cracks in the glass. Not only is a damaged windshield unsightly, but it’s also a safety hazard. Learn when you can have your windshield repaired and when it needs to be replaced.

Small Chips or Cracks

Cracked Windshield
Image via Flickr by b r e n t

Although a small chip or crack may look harmless, it can cause bigger problems if you don’t immediately take care of it. A small chip can spread and lead to more cracks if water gets inside and freezes or if you hit a pothole. Additionally, the windshield provides structural integrity to your vehicle, and one that’s damaged could fall inside or cause the roof to collapse in a collision. Fortunately, if the chip or crack is smaller than a dollar bill, you can usually have your windshield repaired.

Several Chips or Cracks

While you can have a single small chip or crack repaired, if you have several chips or cracks, you need to have your windshield replaced. Multiple chips and cracks mean the integrity of the windshield is now compromised, and it can’t protect you and your passengers like it normally would.

Chips or Cracks in Your Line of Vision

If the chip or crack is in your line of vision, you’ll want to replace your windshield instead of having it repaired. When professionals repair a windshield, it will often leave a small amount of distortion in the glass that can impair your view of the road if it’s within your line of sight. Additionally, if the chip or crack is in front of a safety system sensor, such as a lane departure warning system, automatic braking system, or rain sensor, the distortion from a repair could cause the sensor to malfunction. Therefore, it’s better to have the windshield replaced.

Damage on the Ends of the Windshield

A chip or crack on the outer edges of your windshield also impacts the structural integrity of the glass, and damage on any edge could compromise how well your windshield stands up in a collision. The windshield contributes to about 45 percent of your vehicle’s structural integrity in a head-on collision and plays a key role in preventing the roof from collapsing in a rollover. For the safety of yourself and your passengers, it’s important to replace your windshield if you see damage on the ends.

Large Chips or Cracks

If your windshield has sizable chips or cracks that are larger than the width of a credit card, you should have it replaced. These types of chips and cracks could reach through the safety layer of the windshield, which means it won’t be able to withstand an impact and can’t protect you or your passengers.

Since your vehicle’s windshield has such an important role, it’s better to have it repaired or replaced as soon as you notice a chip or a crack in it.

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