When Do You Really Have to Replace Your Cracked Windshield?

By admin / January 14, 2019

Anyone who drives knows the immediate anxiety that sets in as you hear that small pebble violently collide with your perfect unscathed windshield. 

Sometimes a sigh of relief follows as you realize you, fortunately, avoided damage.

More times than not though, you are left cringing and wondering, “how much is that gonna cost?”

Windshield damage can be caused by loose rocks on the freeway, animals, and debris. Trying to get them fixed can be a pain, so naturally, we wonder, “How long can I drive with a damaged windshield?”

The truth is, driving with a damaged windshield can put the safety of you and your passengers at risk. It’s important to have the damage assessed and repaired quickly.

Here is an all-inclusive guide that talks all about cracked windshield damage, repair vs. replacement, and how to know when it’s necessary. 

Repair a Cracked Windshield

Your windshield is damaged, now what? Do you really have to replace the entire thing?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has placed strict and high standards on windshields. They are very important to the safety of the individuals inside the vehicle. 

Whether major or minor damage, it needs to be repaired quickly to maintain the integrity of the windshield and help keep you and your family safe. 

First, determine what kind of damage was caused. Minor damage usually manifests in two ways, a chip or a crack.

Sometimes though, one can lead to the other and you end up with both. It’s important to have the damage assessed and repaired quickly so that the damage doesn’t get worse. 

Chip vs. Crack

A chip is when the point of contact is clearly marked by some sort of divot. There are many types of chips, including a bulls-eye, star-break, partial bulls-eye, a crack chip, or a pit. A crack can be as small as the tip of your finger or run the entire length of your windshield. 

Should you drive with a chip or a crack in your windshield? The answer is no, it needs to be fixed as soon as possible.

Damaged can spread over time as the climate changes, making a possible repair turn into a complete windshield replacement. On top of that, your safety is compromised when the integrity of your windshield has been compromised. 

If you’re wondering if your windshield needs to be repaired or replaced, there are three factors that professionals use to determine the severity of your damage. 

Those three factors are size, depth, and location. 


The National Windshield Repair Association has strict standards on the size of chips and cracks that can be repaired. Generally speaking, a crack up to 14 inches and a chip up to 3 inches in size.

As technology continues to advance, the ability to fix minor damage increases. That being said, every situation is different. Professionals’ ability to repair your damage depends on what kind of chip you have. 

They take it on a case by case basis and do the best they can to maintain the strict standards they’ve been given for your safety.


The depth is also an important factor in if they can repair your windshield. A windshield consists of three layers, an outer layer of glass, a plastic middle layer, and an inner layer of glass. 

If your chip is deep enough to damage both the outer and inner layer of glass, there is no way to simply repair the damage. 


Lastly is location. Even if your damage clears the first two categories, the wrong location can mean a repair isn’t possible. 

If your damage reaches or is on the outside border of your windshield, there is a large chance the integrity of your windshield is compromised. 

The windshield is largely responsible for the structural strength in a vehicle accident. That’s why it’s extremely important to not put off repairs for another day. 

Repairs are also not possible when it’s in the driver’s line of sight. Repairs can sometimes leave small distortions in the windshield when at another location may not even be noticed. To avoid disrupting the driver’s ability to see clearly, repairs are not allowed when it could impair the driver’s view. 

Replace Your Windshield

What it really comes down to is safety. Your windshield is vital to the safety of you and your passengers.

According to the Auto Glass Safety Council, your windshield provides 45% of the structural strength in a front end collision and 60% in a rollover accident. 

Even with the smallest amount of damage, your windshield can be compromised. Don’t take the chance of putting you or your family at risk.

You should not drive around for extended periods of time with windshield damage. If your windshield needs repair, take it into a professional in a timely manner so that they can evaluate what needs to be done. 

Luckily, there are many companies who offer fast repair and replacement services. Read more here to find an auto glass replacement facility near you. 

Many companies offer free or inexpensive repair services when you buy a warranty or a windshield from them. There are many options to help keep your family safe without having to pay a large price. 

Drive Safe

A cracked windshield is never convenient, but it’s important that you take the right steps to get it fixed quickly and correctly. 

Research repair and replacement facilities near you to find the best deals. Ask the service providers what warranties and deals they offer to avoid paying high prices and always be prepared. 

If you’re looking for more car help, read our article on 7 Tips for Keeping Your Car Clean.

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