Repair or Replace? How and When to Fix Windshield Cracks

fix windshield cracks
miguelb, Flickr

Here’s a sobering fact of life for all car owners – windshield damage is unavoidable. But this doesn’t mean you have to limit your driving for fear a wayward pebble might mark up your otherwise pristine vehicle. You also don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars to replace your windshield. In many cases, you can have an auto repair professional fix windshield cracks for a fraction of the money it would cost you to replace it.

Repair or Replace Your Windshield?

  • Measure The Chip or Crack

    Most auto repair shops can repair a chip or small crack in your windshield as long as it’s not too big. Here’s a good rule of thumb: if the chip in your windshield is no bigger than a quarter, you can probably fix it. Likewise, if the crack is less than three inches long, you can usually repair it. Anything bigger, and you’re probably looking at replacement.

  • Where’s the Damage?

    If the crack or chip is located on the edge of your windshield, you may want to consider an all-out replacement. This is because damage that occurs on the edges can impact the windshield’s structural integrity. Also, bear in mind that a lot of shops won’t repair windshield damage that’s directly in your field of vision when you drive. Why? Because even the best repair job can leave behind small traces that could distort your vision and make driving unsafe. And you can’t have that!

  • Talk to a Pro

    If you’re not sure if you should have your windshield replaced or repaired, the best course of action is to ask a pro. They’ll be able to diagnose the damage and tell you if the damage is minimal enough to warrant repair, or extensive enough to justify a replacement.

In Legal Terms…

According to the Code of Massachusetts Regulations: Division of Insurance, damage to motor vehicle glass shall be repaired rather than replaced if:

(a) damage to the windshield is outside the critical viewing area, which is that area covered by the sweep of the wipers originally provided by the vehicle manufacturer, exclusive of the outer two inches within the perimeter of that sweep; and

(b) damage to the glass is minor, including, but not limited to, a crack less than six inches in length and stone breaks or bruises, bullseyes and star breaks less than one inch in diameter; and the repair will not impair the operational safety of the motor vehicle.

If you’re not confident enough in your skills, we recommend having an auto service professional assess the windshield crack for you.