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Windshield Repair vs Replacement: Which You Should Choose and When

Windshield Repair vs Replacement: Which You Should Choose and When

Rocks are one of the most common causes of windshield damage.

As cars drive, their tires pick up small rocks and throw them off the road. These rocks can fly back and hit your windshield.

But if your windshield only has a few small cracks, do you really have to replace the entire thing?

Keep reading to learn more about windshield repair vs replacement and which services you should get for which damages.

The Types of Windshield Damage

The type of windshield damage you get depends on what hits your windshield and where.

For example, if a rock hits your windshield in the center, you’ll end up with chip or star break. If the rock his your windshield near the edge, you’re more likely to get a long crack.

And the type of windshield damage you get depends on whether or not you can repair the glass.

Here’s a closer look at the different kinds of windshield damage.

Bulls-Eye: This type of break has an obvious point of impact. It can be dark in color and has circular damages expanding around it.

Chip: These are small damages where a piece of the glass has come off the top layer of the windshield.

Combination Break: As the name suggests, a combination break contains multiple types of damages. This could result in breaks that have chips, bulls-eyes, and cracks.

Crack Chip: Though this is also an impact point in the windshield, it is no more than a crack the size of a quarter.

Edge Crack: These cracks can be straight or wavy, but they start within two inches of the windshield’s edge. Edge cracks tend to spread across the rest of the glass.

Floater Crack: A floater crack is similar to an edge crack. It starts in the middle of the windshield, but it can spread over the rest of the surface.

Half Moon: Picture this like a half a bulls-eye.

Long Crack: Any crack longer than six inches is a long crack. It doesn’t matter what part of the windshield it covers.

Pit: Like a chip, several small pieces of glass break off the windshield.

Star Break: This is an impact point with multiple small cracks extending from it. These cracks can spread across the rest of the glass.

Stone Break: A stone break is a chip caused by a stone or hard object.

Stress Crack: These small cracks form at the edge of a windshield, and they sometimes do this without a clear cause. Some of the things that lead to stress cracks are sudden changes in temperature, such as dumping hot water on a frozen windshield to melt the ice.

When to Repair and When to Replace

If the damages are in the right place and aren’t too big, you can repair your windshield rather than replace the whole thing. It all depends on the size, depth, and location of the damages.

The bigger the cracks, the bigger chance you’ll have to replace the windshield.

Let’s break down why these three main factors play such a big part.


In most cases, chips can only be repaired if they are smaller than the size of a quarter, and cracks must be shorter than three inches. However, the technology for windshield repair is always advancing. So this could vary depending on where you take your car.


To understand the depth of your damages, you must understand the layers of your windshield.

Most windshields are made of two layers of glass and one layer of plastic. The glass goes on either side of the plastic, making an outside layer of glass and an inside layer of glass.

The depth of a damage refers to how deep it goes in the glass. For example, a chip that penetrates the inside layer of glass is too deep to repair.


The location of the damages is another important part of determining whether or not you can replace your windshield. Just because the cracks are small doesn’t mean they can be fixed.

Your windshield makes up about 45% of the structural strength of your car during an accident. If the damages are on the outer edge of your windshield, that structural integrity may be ruined. In this case, it’s important to replace your windshield rather than trying to fix it.

Damages that obstruct a driver’s view also warrant replacing the entire windshield. Repairing them could leave the driver’s line of sight warped or distorted, which makes the car unsafe to drive.

If your windshield contains sensors, like automatic braking systems or lane departure warning systems, they may not be able to be repaired. These automated driver assistance systems need a clear, undistorted windshield. So damages to these windshields require a full replacement.

When Should You Repair or Replace Your Windshield?

The longer you leave windshield damage alone, the worse the cracks and chips will get. Remember, most cracks have a tendency to travel across the glass, and chips can get bigger if they aren’t addressed.

When dealing with a damaged windshield, you should either get it repaired or replaced as soon as possible.

That said, sometimes the situation doesn’t allow for quick repairs. Most of the time, it’s okay to drive a car with a cracked or chipped windshield.

But sometimes it’s not.

Most states require you to replace or repair your windshield if there are damages that obstruct the driver’s live of view. If there are any cracks or chips that get in the way of driving, you should repair them right away.

What to Know About Windshield Repair vs Replacement

The most important things to remember about windshield repair vs replacement are the size, depth, and location of the damages. A single chip on its own could require a full windshield replacement if it’s in the right location. Remember, the appearance of the crack or chip isn’t the only thing that matters.

Do you need help with windshield repair? Take a look at how some of our services can help you.

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