Understanding The Different Types of Windshield Damage

Understanding The Different Types of Windshield Damage

While there are several different types of windshield damage, most damage occurs from objects impacting the windshield. There is no way to completely avoid damage caused to your windshield because small objects like gravel or rocks are kicked up by other vehicles. Cracks on the windshield can be caused by a lot of different things, the most common of which is debris stuck in the tires of other vehicles being thrown at your car. Most windshield damage starts out small but can quickly expand, causing the windshield’s health to deteriorate until you are forced to replace the windshield. Why is any of this important to you?

Small cracks can be repaired without replacing the windshield as long as they are managed quickly. Repairing the windshield will essentially save you a substantial amount of money and, more importantly, keeps you and your family safe. It’s important to know what type of damage you’re dealing with so that you can get it repaired as quickly as possible.

It’s worth noting that most windshield damage starts as a small chip. The problem is that damage isn’t seen as significant so it’s not repaired. A few weeks later, that small crack has grown into a long crack that makes it necessary to replace the entire windshield. I encourage you to be more proactive about windshield damage. In many cases, acting quickly can save you a lot of money and avoid the safety hazards that go along with a damaged windshield. Procrastination can put you, your family and your budget at risk!

Different types of windshield damage.

Bull’s-Eye Crack

A bull’s eye comes from small rocks or similar sized debris impacting the windshield. This type of damage is identified by its shape, which resembles the bull’s eye on a dart board. It’s slightly larger than a chip. Depending on the size, a bull’s eye can usually be repaired if it’s addressed immediately. There are rare occasions where you might be required to replace the entire windshield immediately, but you can normally repair the damage as long as you act quickly. The problem with postponing repair of a bull’s eye is that the crack will grow and accumulate moisture, making it much more difficult to repair.

Half Moon

A half moon is exactly like a bull’s eye with one exception: the damage is not completely circular. It’s shaped like (you guessed it) a half moon. Half-moon damage can usually be repaired without having to replace the entire windshield.

Long Crack

This type of crack is 15cm in length and usually requires the entire windshield to be replaced. In most cases, a long crack is caused by one of two things: either a larger piece of debris impacts the windshield. Or, a bull’s eye crack expanding into a long crack if not repaired.


This is definitely the most common type of windshield damage. It’s caused by the same type of debris as a bull’s eye, but on a smaller scale. A tiny bit of glass is dislodged from the windshield, leaving only a minor chip. The good news is that these dings are easy to repair as long as it’s repaired within a week or two. However, if you postpone repairing a small ding, it will start cracking until it becomes so bad that the entire windshield must be replaced. Save yourself a lot of money down the road (pun alert) by repairing these small chips as soon as possible.

Cracked Chip

This type of damage is the size of a quarter at the impact point with a single crack running in either direction. Usually a cracked chip can be repaired as long as you don’t procrastinate. Like other types of damage, if you don’t repair a cracked chip immediately, then you will wind up replacing the entire windshield.

Combination Break

Just as the name implies, this damage consists of several different types of chips, dings and cracks. A combination break is scattered along the surface of the windshield. Whether or not you will be able to repair it is a toss-up – if the chips are not too deep then it can be repaired. You must repair this type of damage immediately.

Edge Crack

This damage starts within 5 centimeters of the outside edge of the windshield (or on the edge itself). Edge cracks usually result in the replacement of the entire windshield since the crack can run 30cm or more. Edge cracks must be dealt with immediately because they greatly obstruct your view and lead to other significant safety hazards.

Floater Crack

A floater crack forms in the centre of the windshield. The depth of the crack is what will determine whether it can be repaired. Like edge cracks, floater cracks must be dealt with immediately because they present a huge risk to your safety.

Stress Crack

Every windshield goes through stress. For example, if it’s snowing outside and you turn on the heater, then the windshield is submitted to a rapid temperature change, creating stress. That’s why ice should be removed from the windshield with cold water (never use warm water) before starting the vehicle. Stress cracks can sometimes be repaired but if the damage is extensive,then it’s recommended that you replace the entire windshield in order to prevent even more damage.

Chips can Become Cracks

It’s important that you take care of small chips quickly. If you procrastinate, then those small chips will become cracks and cracks quickly become windshield replacements. Here’s what happens.

Windshields contain a layer of lamination to prevent shattering. When that coating is penetrated with a small chip, water is pulled into those chips because of surface tension. The moisture will start to slowly delaminate surrounding areas of the windshield, causing the chip to spread. This is even more of a problem in colder climates because the water will get inside of the chip, freeze and expand inside of the chip. The glass is then forced to crack to compensate for the expansion of the newly formed ice.

That’s a major reason for repairing a chip as soon as possible. A tiny chip can grow into a nasty crack – a small cost can grow into a more expensive one.

Windshield Damage Has Huge Safety Risks!

A cracked windshield is hazardous to your entire family or anyone else who is inside of the vehicle. Not only does a cracked windshield impair the visibility of the driver, but it also affects the way a vehicle responds during a crash. Here are a few of those hidden dangers:

  • Risk of Being Ejected from the Vehicle
  • Problematic Airbag Deployment
  • Roof Support is Compromised

The Bottom Line

The main point that I want you to take away from this post is that you should get any damage to your windshield repaired as quickly as possible. With large cracks, that’s an obvious statement. The problem is that most individuals will put off repairing small chips because they don’t see them as an issue. While they might not be an issue today, the problem will continue to accumulate until it becomes necessary to replace the entire windshield. Understanding the different types of windshield damage can save you a substantial amount of money down the road because you are able to address and fix the problem now.

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