What to Do When Your Windshield Cracks

What to Do When Your Windshield Cracks

Cracked or chipped your windshield? Take a look at how it could've happened, and what you can do about it.

by Team Onlia
You’re driving along the highway, and notice a speck on your windshield. You turn on your wipers, but it doesn’t budge. Could it be a crack? Upon reaching your destination, you get out to inspect it – and sure enough, it is.

It may not seem like a big deal at first, but crack in your windshield isn’t something to be ignored; it’s dangerous since it compromises the overall structure of your car, small cracks can spread into larger ones, and it can actually get you a windshield obstructed ticket in Ontario. 

 

What causes your windshield to crack?

Windshield cracks can be caused by a number of things. One of the most common – and noticeable ways –  is debris from vehicles in front of you like, large trucks, or from a hailstorm.

If you can’t think of an obvious reason for the crack, it may have been caused by:

  • Poor installation: Sometimes a windshield isn’t properly installed, and the resulting vibrations can cause cracks.
  • Temperature fluctuations: Did the temperature plummet really quickly? Did you heat up your car or use a defroster to warm things up? This can cause the glass to expand unevenly, leading to cracks. 
  • Wind gusts: The pressure of driving against heavy winds could’ve caused your glass to crack. 
  • Glass defects: Sometimes, the windshield is just no good. If you take your car to a glass expert, they’ll be able to identify this. They’ll also be in the know about any windshield recalls. 

 

Do you need a repair or replacement?

Whether you need a repair or a replacement all depends on the crack itself; its location and the type of damage will dictate whether it can be repaired, or if your entire windshield will need to be replaced. 

 

Location

Your windshield has a section called the Driver’s Primary Viewing Area (DVPA). As the name implies, this section is critical to giving you (the driver) an unobstructed view of the road. If your crack is in this section and has a diameter larger than one inch you’ll likely need to replace your windshield; even a talented technician may be unable to prevent distortion while repairing this part of your windshield. 


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Type of damage

Whether you need to repair or replace also depends on the type of chip or crack on your windshield.

Type of damage Description  Can be repaired if...
 Bullseye Damage is marked by a dark circle with an impact point 
  •  Diameter of crack/chip is an inch or less
  • No dirt in the head
  • Not in the DPVA
Combination break  Damage with multiple characteristics (i.e. cracks stemming from damage) 
  • Diameter of crack/chip is 2 inches or less (not including the legs or subsurface breaks)
 Crack A single line of separation that could have started from an initial point of impact 
  • Is 14 inches or less
  • Not in the DPVA


 Half-moon

 A partial bullseye 
  • Diameter of crack/chip is one inch or less
 Star break  Damage that has a series of 'legs' stemming from the initial break
  • Diameter of crack/chip is three inches or less 
Surface pit   A nick that doesn't penetrate to the plastic inner layer 
  • The damage is more than 1/8th of an inch

 

Common scenarios where you’ll have to replace the entire windshield include when:

  • Damage affects both the inside and outside layer of your windshield

  • There are 3 or more long cracks that exceed 6 inches

  • The chip is on the inside of the glass (passenger’s side)

  • There are visible impurities in the crack or chip that can’t be removed with cleaning

 

Don’t attempt a DIY windshield repair

If you’re a particularly resourceful person, it might be tempting to pick up a kit and attempt a DIY windshield repair. However, we recommend visiting a professional – saving a few dollars isn’t worth compromising your safety. 

Even self-proclaimed car DIY enthusiasts say that fixing a windshield is one task they leave to the pros. Professionals have years of experience and the special equipment to get the job done right. 

 

Talk to your insurance provider

The cost of a windshield repair or replacement can vary depending on the car, the city, and special features like condensation sensors. A windshield replacement can cost anywhere from $185 to $1,000 when you add in labour costs. According to a recent report, the average driver said they paid around $214.

That said, be sure to chat with your insurance provider, since your policy might cover windshield repair. For instance, Onlia policyholders have repairs fully covered and a deductible is only charged if an entire windshield replacement is required. 

A few steps drivers can take to prevent windshield cracks are keeping their space from other cars (especially on the highway), driving at a moderate speed, avoiding gravel, and parking in the shade. 

Even if you take precautions, cracks do happen  and when they do, it's important to deal with them as soon as possible.  



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