There are many types of damage that windshields might undergo over the life of one vehicle. Windshields are fairly resilient, and the multiple players of glass make some types of damage worse than others. Some types of auto glass damage are reparable where some require an outright glass replacement. Chips are the most common type of impact damage and the easiest to repair. Cracks can vary widely in size and shape. Some cracks can be repaired while others will require a full replacement of the damaged auto glass. Breaks, shatters and large holes are irreparable and necessitate a full auto glass replacement.
The smallest chips are light gouges or abrasions into the first layer of glass. While not terribly damaging or distracting, chips that obscure the road or stand to grow into larger cracks should be repaired quickly. While some chips may not technically require repair but repair is advisable as a variety of conditions can lead to chips spreading into cracks.
Cracks make up the bulk of windshield damage. Cracks can occur because of natural window stress or impact damage. Small cracks that are only an inch or two in length can typically be repaired with a filler compound. Stress cracks can be filled but will typically return with time. Larger cracks, multiple connected cracks in a star, web or bullseye pattern, or cracks that penetrate both layers of the windshield are typically also irreparable and require a full auto glass replacement.
Full shatters, deep gouges that punch through to the driver, holes and other major damage should be replaced immediately. This type of damage can present both real danger and significant distraction. Glass chips and debris, as well as airflow from major holes, pose a very real distraction and risk. If possible a mobile glass repair service is probably the best option for this type of major damage. A mobile service will keep the driver off the road while certified glass technicians perform replacement work on site.
Modern windshields are fairly resilient, and minor damage might seem easy to ignore. Small chips are easily repairable and if left unattended can lead to cracks. Cracks vary in size, depth and shape and may be reparable. Larger cracks, as well as deep gouges and holes, will require a full glass replacement. If one is available, a mobile repair service is a great alternative to driving with major auto glass damage.