Do I Need to Replace My Windshield If It’s Cracked?

by Lori Straus

Windshield cracks belong to that list of annoyances you know you need to take care of but that don’t appear so dangerous that they’re worth the inconvenience of looking after them. However, do you always need to get a windshield replaced? Is a fast repair enough? Let’s answer those questions.

First Steps in Windshield RepairTwo men installing a windshield

You’re on a family road trip and a stone flies at your windshield, kicked up by the transport truck you’re desperately trying not to follow. First, pull over as soon as it’s safe. Not only will you want to inspect the damage, but you’ll also want to calm yourself. Write down the details of the accident: when, where, what, and how.

Next, inspect your windshield: Is it a small chip? Or does the damage look more like a special effect from a sci-fi movie? It might be tempting to keep driving because “it’s just a cracked windshield,” but be honest with yourself. A small chip that doesn’t obstruct your line of vision is probably not an issue, but anything bigger or in your line of vision. Call for assistance.

Windshields Help Keep Your Vehicle Safe

Your windshield helps make your car safe. Any damage to it decreases the overall safety of your vehicle:

  • Shards of the windshield may fly into the driver compartment upon impact in an accident.
  • The windshield acts as a guide for airbags so they blow out toward the driver and passenger. A weakened windshield may not be able to withstand the force of the airbags, which could push the glass out, reducing or even eliminating the effectiveness of airbags during a crash.
  • Windshields also support the roof of the vehicle. A damaged windshield could allow the roof to collapse in an accident.

That’s why it’s no small matter to get your windshield repaired or replaced as soon as possible.

When to Replace Your Windshield

You can most likely repair your windshield if any of the following conditions apply:

  • You have one crack that is no more than 7 cm high (about the height of a dollar bill).
  • Or you have one chip that is no more than 2.5 cm in diameter (about the same as a quarter).

However, we strongly recommend replacing the windshield in the following circumstances:

  • The damage is larger than described above.
  • The crack/chip impedes your line of sight. (Craning to see around it still means your sight is impeded.)
  • You have more than one crack and/or chip.
  • The damage penetrates deep, into the inner layer of safety glass, and/or reaches to the windshield’s edges.
  • You have a chip or crack directly over the radio antenna or a heating element.

So, even if you have a long-ish crack on the passenger side of your windshield, have your windshield replaced. As I mentioned above, it helps keep you safe in a crash.

The broken car glass being repaired using professional equipment.Where Should You Get Your Windshield Repaired or Replaced?

Get recommendations from people you trust. In addition, your car dealer or mechanic may have preferred pricing at a reputable shop. Call around and ask what the typical repair time is, how much it could cost, and how long the auto glass shop has been in business. Choosing the wrong auto glass shop could end up causing you more problems than you already have on your plate.

Remember: the damage will spread over time. You neither want to pay for a replacement when a repair is all that’s needed, nor do you want to decrease your vehicle’s safety when you should have the windshield replaced. Whether you believe you need your windshield repaired or replaced, act right away.