Here's What to Do When Your Windshield Cracks

Here’s What to Do When Your Windshield Cracks

May 2, 2023


You’re driving to work when you notice that there’s a small speck on your windshield. Even after a few strokes of your windshield wipers, the speck doesn’t go away. That’s when you realize: you’ve got a small chip in your windshield. You get out of your car and do an inspection and, unfortunately, you realize you’re right. That’s a crack.

A crack in your windshield can seem like a trivial issue upon initial inspection, but it shouldn’t be ignored. It can be especially dangerous because it can compromise your car’s overall integrity and structure, and small cracks can easily translate to larger ones down the road (so to speak.)

Here’s a quick guide from Excalibur on how windshield cracks happen and what to do if you notice a crack in your windshield.

How do windshield cracks happen?

Windshield cracks can happen for any reason, and you may not always notice them when they happen initially. You will notice it, however, if the crack comes from debris launched backwards by a large truck in front of you on the road. Hailstorms are another common cause of cracks.

Other causes of windshield cracks include:

  • Temperature fluctuations. In Canada, it can go from cold, to warm, to hot, to cold again in just a few days. If the temperatures plummeted suddenly overnight and then you heat up your car or used a defroster, the glass could expand unevenly and crack.
  • Defects. If your windshield is just poorly constructed or poorly installed, the resulting vibrations can cause cracks. Consider taking your vehicle to a glass expert to identify any issues.
  • Wind gusts. Driving against particularly heavy winds can cause glass cracks.

Did you know there are different definitions for cracks as well? Let’s go over them:

  • Bullseye. This is identified by a dark circle with an impact point. It can be repaired if there’s no dirt in the head or if the diameter of the chip is an inch or less.
  • Combination break. This is damage with multiple noticeable characteristics. If the diameter of the crack/chip is 2 inches or less, it can usually be repaired.
  • Star break. This is damage with a series of “legs” that emerge from where the initial crack was. It can be repaired if the diameter is 3 inches or less.
  • Crack. This is one line of separation, potentially with an initial point. It can be repaired if it is 14 inches or less in length.
  • Surface pit. This is a small nick that doesn’t go beyond the plastic inner layer and can be easily repaired if it is no more than 1/8th of an inch in depth.
  • Half-moon. This is like a bullseye, but a bit smaller. It can be repaired if it is one inch or less in diameter.

Damages in the driver’s primary viewing area, or DPVA, need to be repaired to prevent you from having an obstructed view of the road. Cracks in these areas can be distracting.

What do I do if my windshield cracks?

Even if you’re incredibly resourceful or handy, do not try to attempt your own DIY windshield repair. If the damage is obstructing your vision or you feel it might worsen with time, visit a professional as soon as you can to repair your glass windshield.

Also, talk to your insurance provider. If the damage is substantial enough, and if you’re covered, you can submit a claim for the cost of repairs or even total windshield replacement.

Will my auto insurance cover me for a windshield crack?

It could. Chips and cracks may fall under the scope of some policies, but only if you have certain coverage. Oftentimes, an insurance provider will want you to get your windshield repaired if it’s chipped, to avoid any worse issues later down the line which will cost you more.

Ultimately, auto insurance differs in what it covers between different policyholders and different insurers. Your best bet is to take a closer look at your policy’s wording, perhaps with the assistance of a professional (like an Excalibur Defender) and determine if your policy includes coverage for windshield repair. Typically, this coverage would fall under the definition of comprehensive insurance, but this claim would also be subject to a deductible. In some instances, a deductible may only be charged if the entire windshield must be replaced. However, if your deductible is $500 or more, your windshield replacement may be less than that amount – especially since the average windshield replacement job will cost around $1,100-$1,500.

Note, however, that even if you aren’t paying your deductible, too many claims for repairing or replacing your windshield will start to affect your insurance rates.

Do warranties cover cracked windshields?

Likely not. Windshield replacements can be included in many insurance policies, but extended warranties and vehicle service contracts seldom cover windshields. You may be able to purchase a separate plan for covering windshields, but your standard warranty may not.

How do I prevent windshield cracks?

Frankly, sometimes things happen. That’s why insurance exists – because “things happen.” Storm debris could strike your windshield, there could be flying rocks on the highway, you could get into a motor vehicle collision, or even an extreme temperature fluctuation could damage your windshield.

But can you prevent windshield cracks? Well, to an extent. Obviously, you can’t bolster your windshield so much as to stop a massive rock from leaving a chip (unless you were driving a tank) but you can do some preventative maintenance, such as repairing windshield wipers, checking out any minor scratches, or storing your vehicle indoors during harsh weather. Also, drive at a moderate speed, avoid gravel when you can, and keep your space from other vehicles if you notice a lot of debris on the road.

Get any cracks or chips you notice repaired as soon as you can. Being proactive can help you avoid having to replace your windshield altogether.