Does a cracked windshield need to be repaired or replaced?

By Allstate

Last updated: January 1

Many vehicle owners can identify with the unsettling discovery of even the smallest windshield crack. The first question that comes up is – can it be repaired, or does it need to be replaced?

Windshield repairs and replacements should be done as soon as possible to help prevent them from getting worse. In certain situations, windshield damage could be covered under the comprehensive coverage on your auto insurance policy.

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When to replace your windshield

Whether or not you should replace your windshield typically boils down to the size of your windshield, the type of glass and the size of the crack, according to

It’s usually a good idea to replace your windshield when:

  1. The glass is tempered, not laminated.
  2. The crack is longer than a dollar bill.
  3. The crack or chip is deep enough that it went more than halfway into the windshield.
  4. The crack or chip extends to the outside edge of the windshield.

Another great resource is your insurance company – it can likely refer you to a reputable auto glass shop.

How windshield repairs work

Depending on the windshield damage, repairs may differ. But generally, the glass needs to be absolutely dry and around room temperature, according to Popular Mechanics. Detergents and window cleaners should be avoided. Instead, a conservative amount of lighter fluid or acetone is advised.

Windshield repairs typically involve applying an adhesive to the crack, adds Popular Mechanics. Once the adhesive is thoroughly applied, it needs to be left undisturbed for a few hours before removing the excess adhesive with an implement like a razor blade.

You can purchase repair kits online, but if damage is extensive or dangerous, call a professional, advises Bob Vila.

However you go about it, damaged windshields should be fixed as soon as possible. A small chip can spread across the windshield if you hit a big pothole, drive on a bumpy road or make an aggressive turn, says Most states even make it illegal to drive a car with a cracked windshield, according to the Insurance Information Institute(III).

Windshield repair FAQs