While windshields are made of toughened glass, it is not uncommon for them to become chipped or damaged, especially if you drive in the countryside frequently. Some chips can occur through plain bad luck too. Perhaps you were driving down the motorway and some debris was kicked up by the vehicle in front of you, for example. Some small chips to the windshield can be ignored, especially if they are not in a place that would affect your ability to see clearly. However, if the chip is big or it interferes with your field of view then you are obliged to have it repaired.
Small chips and cracks can usually be repaired, but how easy it is to do so will depend on the size, length, and depth of the damage as well as the location of the crack. The age of the windshield and how badly contaminated the site of the crack is can also make a difference to how well it can be repaired. In some cases, it may make more sense to source a complete windscreen replacement.
How Big is Too Big?
The old rule of thumb was that if a chip was bigger than one inch in diameter or a crack was more than three inches long you should not try to repair it. There are, however, some more modern repair techniques which make it possible to repair bigger cracks and chips. Smaller ‘star-shaped’ cracks where there are several fine cracks coming off a central broken point are usually fairly easy to repair, since the repair equipment can be centred over the most damaged point.
Longer cracks are more complex to work with and if there are multiple cracks spread over a larger area then this can be a problem as well.
It is important to note that even high-quality repairs are not perfect and that they may leave a slightly cloudy or misty appearance on the glass. This means that if you have a long crack in the driver’s main field of vision you may want to replace the windshield because even the repaired glass might impair the driver’s view.
Cracks that are very long (over 18 inches) should not be repaired because they may have weakened the glass too much.
When to Replace Your Windshield
If the crack is hidden partly by the window frame so the technician cannot fully see it, then they may not be able to repair it properly. Cracks that started on the inside of the windshield are harder to work with than ones that started on the outside too.
In addition, if the crack is over a sensor or antenna, or it has become contaminated with a lot of dirt, then this may hamper the repair process.
If you have a damaged windshield, get it looked at as quickly as possible so that the technicians have a chance to work on it before the crack gets dirty or gets bigger. If the crack is obscuring your vision, do not try to drive, ask a windshield repair company like Sunshine Coast Windscreens to come to you.