What Should I Do If I Crack My Windshield?

Chips, nicks, cracks, and breaks are normal and happen regularly. Here's what you should do if you crack your windshield.

Cracked windshield with view of buildingsAustin Lott | Capital One

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If you've heard the song lyrics "sometimes you're the windshield and sometimes you're the bug," you understand just how vital that glass panel between you and the world can be. The large, multilayered pieces of specialized safety glass at the front of your vehicle help keep occupants safe and can house important sensors and antennas that keep your car systems working.

You may be surprised to learn that windshield damage is more common than you think. Here's what you need to know if your vehicle's windshield needs repair.

How To Tell If Windshield Damage Needs To Be Repaired

In general, a handful of chips, cracks, and nicks can impact your windshield: “bullseyes”, “star cracks”, “half-moons”, “stress breaks”, or some combination of the four. It's important to address windshield cracks when they happen since they can spread quickly to other parts of your windshield and require a windshield replacement.

Bullseyes generally affect the outer layer of the windshield, while star cracks, half-moons, and stress breaks all affect deeper layers of the safety glass. While bullseye-style cracks may not need to be repaired right away, the other four types should be addressed immediately since they can impede your vision and spread to other parts of your windshield.

How Are Windshields Repaired?

Some cracks can be repaired with fill-in material, while others will require a full windshield replacement. The course of action is determined by the depth of the crack and how large it is, and where it is on the windshield. In general, deep, long cracks that impede your line of sight and multiple cracks can’t be repaired. In these cases, the entire windshield will need to be replaced.

Where To Go To Get A Windshield Fixed

Getting your windshield fixed is a relatively simple process. You don’t necessarily have to go to the dealer to get your windshield replaced, but it does make sense to hire a glass or windshield specialist. In many cases, windshield repair companies will send a technician to your location to repair your windshield or completely replace it.

If you have sensors in your windshield for advanced driver-assistance systems, like adaptive cruise control, you will need to take your vehicle to the dealer to get the sensors recalibrated after a windshield replacement. Legitimate auto glass companies know how to deal with specialized sensors and can get the same or similar type of glass to replace your windshield, but they may not calibrate the sensors.

How Much Does Windshield Repair Cost?

Before you choose a company to repair or replace your windshield, check out their certifications, look into the warranties they offer, and check the Better Business Bureau for any complaints.

Small windshield repairs are relatively affordable and usually cost under $100 if the crack is small and if you catch it early. On average, a windshield replacement can run anywhere from $150 to $400 or more depending on the year, make, model, and technology in your vehicle. As mentioned, dealer replacements tend to cost more.

Most large auto insurance providers such as Geico and Progressive work closely with certified glass repair companies to help you get your windshield replaced or repaired for little to no cost. Be sure to read the fine print of your glass coverage before deciding whether to use your insurance to cover the cost.

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Abigail Bassett
Abigail Bassett is an award-winning freelance journalist based in Los Angeles. There, she covers everything from automotive and business to travel and luxury. She has a passion for 1980s-era Volvo wagons, microcars, and dogs. She is also a World Car Juror.