Cracked Windshields: Repair or Replace?

Windshield cracks happen. Even if you’re the world’s greatest driver on the world’s safest roads, you’re eventually going to see a tiny break start to snake its way across that once-pristine pane that keeps the bugs out of your teeth. So what do you do about them? Are they anything to worry about? When is it time to call upon your Seattle auto body shop for repairs?

The good news is that there are actually some pretty simple standards to tell you when a windshield can be repaired or when it needs to be replaced. These all depend on the specific type of crack, its location, and its size:

  • Crack: A simple fracture line. Cracks can be repaired if they are no longer than fourteen inches in length.
  • Bullseye Cracks: Circular cracks caused by a sharp impact. These cracks are repairable if their diameters do not exceed one inch.
  • Star Breaks: Groups of cracks emanating from a central point in a star-like shape. These can be repaired if the diameter does not exceed three inches.
  • Combination Breaks: These combine the features of different kinds of cracks, like a star break within a bullseye. If the diameter of the body of such a crack (excluding any “legs”) does not exceed two inches, it can be repaired.
  • Surface Pit: This is a nick in the outer glass layer of a windshield that has not penetrated into the inner plastic layer. If the diameter of a surface pit is at least one eighth of an inch, it can be repaired.

However, if your crack meets any of the following criteria, the windshield will have to be replaced:

  • The crack extends from an edge and lacks an impact point (a “stress crack”)
  • The crack extends to more than one edge.
  • The crack is in the driver’s direct line of vision.
  • The crack is contaminated to a point that it might not fill properly.


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