You never expect to deal with a cracked windshield until the day something comes flying at your window and scares the soul out of your body. Whether you’ve gotten involved in an accident or are simply driving and get hit with a bit of bad luck, the question then arises, what do you need to do next? Do you have to take your car in for an auto glass repair? Or can you repair a cracked windshield by yourself?
Here, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about different windshield cracks, what to expect when repairing them, how to go about fulfilling the task, and more.
Let’s dive in!
What is a Windshield Made Of?
Windshields in modern cars are made up of three different layers. Two pieces of curved glass surround a middle layer of plastic vinyl. This structure ensures that most objects that hit your windshield don’t make it to the interior of your car.
This prevents the entire window from shattering upon impact and lowers the possibility of creating large, dangerous pieces of broken glass.
Cracked windshields are extremely common, and most of the time, the only part of the windshield that is damaged is the first layer of glass. If this is the case, it’s possible to repair your windshield rather than replace it.
Common Things That Can Crack Your Windshield
When driving around at fast speeds in different environments, there’s a variety of common objects that can cause a cracked windshield. If it’s hard — it can cause a crack. Let’s look at some of the most common.
Rocks and Pebbles
The most common culprits of a cracked windshield are rocks, pebbles, or stones. It is common for little rocks to get caught and picked up by tires that shoot back behind the car — and unluckily right into other cars.
They’ll usually just cause minor cracks, but if they are big enough, they can go through all three layers of windshield protection.
Nails, Bolts, and Other Tiny Tools
Another common cause of windshield cracks is things like nails, bolts, nuts, washers, and screws. It’s not uncommon for boxes of tools to get lost on highways and roads, which can be a hazard to your windows.
Litter isn’t only disgusting and bad for our environment. It can also cause major car damage. When people toss their trash out of their cars and into the streets, it can be used as ammo against your windshield.
(So don’t litter.)
One of the more terrifying causes of windshield cracks is birds flying right into your car. Think Angry Birds. Low-flying birds can crack into your window and shatter the windshield.
Yes, insects. You might not want to think of bugs that are big and hard enough to crack a window, but they exist. With enough speed, they can act as tiny little bullets to the glass of your windshield.
Windshield Crack Types
As you can probably imagine, not all windshield cracks are the same. Several different types have their own names. Depending on the type, your windshield may need different methods to get fixed. Let’s take a look at the types of windshield damage.
Cracks can be further broken down into three different categories.
The first type of crack is a stress crack. Stress cracks don’t happen from one large impact on your windshield but rather from repeated impacts in a certain spot. It can also happen in extreme weather — very hot or very cold.
The second type of crack is an edge crack. Edge cracks form on the outer edges of the windshield and start to move towards the center of the glass.
The third type is a floater crack. These are usually formed around two inches away from the windshield’s edge and are made worse by extreme weather.
You can probably imagine what a bullseye crack looks like — a bullseye. These cause a crater in the glass with concentric rings coming from the center of the target.
Chips form on the windshield when debris hits your windshield and creates a small divot in the glass. Although your window can take multiple chips, the more that you get, the more likely it is that it will cause a crack. Get them repaired quickly to avoid this.
This is a crack that forms when a chip has tiny fissures or lines that extend from the center of the chip. This is one of the easier cracks to fix. All you need is a little glass filler.
A combination crack is any combo of a crack, chip, bullseye, or star. This usually happens after multiple objects hit your windshield in different events. If you keep delaying repair, your windshield might get to the point where you need a replacement.
A large crack is…large. These cracks may span your entire windshield and will most likely need replacement.
How Can You Repair a Cracked Windshield?
There are two different ways to fix a cracked windshield. One is a filler, and the other is a replacement.
Fillers are clear glues that are used for minor cracks, chips, and fractures. They are easy to use and can repair the most common windshield cracks. Although they can be done right out of your garage, they can’t fix bigger cracks or holes in the glass.
A windshield replacement might be needed if the crack in your window is too large for fillers. Most likely, you will need to take your car to a professional to have a replacement done.
Make sure to get it fixed quickly, as you can even receive a ticket for having a cracked windshield.
What You Need To Fix Your Windshield
DIY windshield repair should only be done if the crack in your glass is minor. You should also check first to see if your insurance covers repairs. If it is, it’s probably best to leave it to the professionals.
Also, not all windshield damage needs to be repaired. Some signs to look for are if the crack has become very long, the chip has spidered, or the damage impairs your ability to drive. Use common sense to figure out if you need to replace your windshield.
Before you get started, set aside about an hour and get the necessary safety equipment:
- Safety glasses
- Nitrile gloves
- A brightly lit area
Here are the tools you will need to fix your windshield:
- Something sharp to poke with (like a needle, thumbtack, or small nail)
- A razorblade
- Paper towels
- Dremel tool or electric drill
And here are the other products you will need:
- Resin-based windshield repair kit
- Window cleaner
Once you have all of your tools organized, bring your car to a flat, spacious workspace like a garage or driveway.
How To Fix Your Windshield
Although you might not be able to see it, small pockets of air are created when something hard hits your windshield. To fix the chip, you need to remove the air and replace it with filler.
There are several different kinds of windshield repair kids, but the process is usually the same for most of them. Always read the directions that come with your kit thoroughly and follow them carefully.
Here’s a general outline of how it works:
First, thoroughly clean your window with window cleaner (but don’t spray directly on the chip or crack).
Next, use your sharp poker to pick out any pieces of loose glass. You can use an air compression tool to blow out harder-to-reach pieces. In some cases, you may need a Dremel tool or electric drill to get to the air bubble, but it’s not always needed. If you do use this, be very careful not to drill too far into the vinyl layer of your windshield.
After that, apply the bridge, stickers, or suction cups that come with your repair kit. Place the resin injector just above the affected spot on the windshield and press it onto the glass. Then apply the resin.
Next, create a vacuum and pull the air out of the cracked part of the windshield. Some kits will say to allow a certain amount of time for this to take place. Use sunlight or UV light to cure the resin.
After you fill the crack, there will probably still be a small divot. Roll the extra resin into the divot. You can place a piece of plastic above the resin and ensure that there are no air bubbles.
Remove the plastic by pressing on the corner of the plastic to prevent any resin from being pulled out in the process. Use your razor blade to scrape away any extra resin. You can use pit polish to improve the looks further.
That’s it! Your windshield is ready to get on the road once again.
That’s everything you need to know for the question:
Can you repair a cracked windshield?
Remember, only do a home repair for your windshield for minor cracks. Here are some signs that you need to bring your windshield in for a professional repair or replacement:
- The crack is longer than a dollar bill
- The crack is more than halfway deep into the windshield
- The crack touches the outside edge of the windshield
For the best windshield repair and replacements in Oakville, Ontario, come to Auto Glass Zone in Oakville and get your glass fixed in under 30 minutes!