Windshield cracks are often the result of chips which were left unrepaired and grew into a larger problem.
Somtimes, innocently driving behind a tow truck will get your windshield damanged. Sometimes an object may strike the windshield with such force that a crack is created instantly. In fact, when glass cracks on impact it happens at a speed of over 3,000 miles per hour.
There are many different types of cracks, and each type of crack will require a different kind of care and repair, so it’s importnat you understand what kind of crack you are dealing with:
For example, they may appear in a starburst pattern, with multiple cracks leading away from the point of impact, or they may appear as one long crack. It is important to seek repairs for windshield cracks as soon as they occur, so that a more expensive windshield replacement can be avoided. It’s not uncommon that a small starburst will grow into unrepairable 11″ crack just in a matter of a few days. It is rare, but in some states drivers with significant cracks in their windshields will be pulled over and issued a ticket by police officers. The reason behind this is that a large crack can reduce visibility and make that particular driver a hazard to others. This is yet another reason to have the crack repaired quickly.
Do you know how to tell the difference between a scratch and a crack in their windshield? The difference is that a scratch in the windshield does not go all the way through the outer layer of glass, like a crack does. If you are not sure whether you have a crack or a scratch, consult an auto glass technician first, as the cost of fixing a scratch is lower, and often can be done without going to auto glass repair shop with a basic polishing kit.
Cracks also don’t always need professinoal help – see our guide on DIY Windshield Crack Repair for help on this.
How to stop windshield cracks from growing
Cracks grow because a huge amount of force per unit area is created whenever there is flexing, expansion, or other force on the windshield. Modern vehicles are built such a way that the windshield is an integral part of the structural strength of the vehicle. Whenever your car flexes the windshield flexes as well. It is important to keep in mind the effect heat and cold have upon glass on a molecular level. Variations in temperature cause changes in the structure of glass, meaning these forces can cause cracks to grow. If a crack appears in later summer or early fall, it is very important to have it repaired before freezing weather occurs. This is not only due to the effect of cold upon the glass itself. Temperature changes also affect the metal frame around the glass, and as it contracts or expands it can cause existing cracks in the glass to grow. The weight of snow, if heavy snowfall is allowed to accumulate on the windshield, can also put a strain on cracked glass.
Another stress factor to avoid is playing the stereo bass too loudly. The vibration can actually put additional strain on the crack and cause it to grow. Sometimes well-meaning friends will suggest “solutions” they have heard, such as putting super glue or other types of adhesives in the crack. These substances are not specially formulated to stand up to the everyday stresses of a windshield, and may cause a false sense of security and a delay in seeking a real repair.
Glues and other types of adhesives should not be inserted into the crack. Also, taping the crack will not prevent it from growing, although it will keep dirt and water out so that a repair is more effective. While there are several ways to prevent a crack from growing, it is important not to rely on these methods for a long period of time. The repair should still be done as soon as possible. See a few more dos and don’ts for preventing cracks from growing.
Can a windshield crack be repaired?
The general rule for cracks is that anything which fits underneath a dollar bill can be repaired. Larger cracks usually require replacement of the entire windshield, but there is one company, Ultrabond, which can repair cracks up to 24 inches long. Another rule is that cracks containing significant debris inside often cannot be repaired. For this reason, it is recommended that car owners place clear packing tape over any cracks until they bring their car to a technician for repair. It is important to use clear packing tape only, as any other type of tape may leave adhesive residue in the crack, and could make the repair more difficult.
Sometimes a technician will be able to tell, before attempting the repair, that the result will be poor. In this case a new windshield will be recommended, so that the customer will have a clear windshield that allows for safe driving. Customers are also advised not to wash their cars before seeking crack repair, because water in the crack may increase repair time or make the crack worse. Exposure to extreme elements can also increase damage, so avoiding heat in the summer and freezing cold in the winter is ideal. Of course, the sooner a repair is performed, the better the outcome will be. It is important to remember that it is not always possible to remove all debris from the crack, especially if the customer waited several weeks or longer before seeking the repair. In this case the repair may not always result in a perfectly clear windshield, as a small amount of debris that could not be removed may remain embedded in the area of the repair. These types of cracks cannot be repaired:
- stress cracks
- cracks over 14 inches long
- edge cracks that extend to more than one edge
- cracks that are in the driver’s direct line of vision
- cracks that will not fill properly due to contamination
There are many other factors to take in consideration. See this article – Is Your Windshield Repairable? – to learn more.
Car Windshield crack repair
The process for windshield crack repair is nearly identical to that of chip repair. The windshield technician will inspect the crack and then vacuum as much water or debris as possible away from the site of repair. Then the crack will be filled with resin, and hardened with an ultraviolet light. Any excess resin will be removed so that the windshield retains a smooth surface. The resin dries clear and blends with the glass, leaving the customer with a fully functional windshield.
Windshield Crack Repair Cost
The entire process for a windshield crack repair takes about thirty minutes. Generally the cost will be about sixty dollars for the first crack, and ten to fifteen dollars for additional cracks. In many cases, customers with comprehensive auto insurance plans can receive this repair free of charge. Others may have to pay a deductible or cover the entire cost themselves. Occasionally, the customer may have to pay the entire cost and then wait for reimbursement from their insurance company. Most windshield repair centers can contact insurance companies, so that the entire process is quick and easy for the customer. Some states actually have laws governing auto insurance deductibles, or even requiring insurance companies to cover windshield repair and replacement. Customers would be wise to research their own state’s laws and be aware of their rights, so that a repair does not end up costing more than it should. See our State-by-State Information on car windshield repair.