Guest Post: The 5 Types of Windshield Damage

By Sladen West

Many drivers might not be aware of this, but the glass that makes up your car’s windshield is different from the kind that is used in the windows on your house. Windshield glass is actually comprised of laminated safety glass, which means that it consists of two layers of glass separated and held together by an inner layer of polyvinyl butyral. This prevents the glass from becoming loose and falling inward, even if it completely shatters. However, this unique design means that it can sustain unique damage. Here are the five different types of windshield damage that you might have to deal with.

1. Bull’s-Eye

A bull’s eye chip generally resembles—you guessed it—a bull’s eye. As the chip is usually a result of a rock that has been kicked up on the freeway, it consists of a separated cone in the outer layer of glass. When viewed from inside the car, it appears as a dark circle around a deeper impact point. A small portion of glass is usually missing from the very center.

2. Star Break

Often looking like a squished spider, star beaks can be identified by the legs that emanate outwards from a central point. They can appear as a small X, or have several cracks that extend much farther. These can easily spread, often resulting in a windshield that needs to be completely replaced.

3. Half Moon

A bull’s eye chip without a complete circle around the impact point, the half moon is caused by small objects hitting the windshield at a glancing angle.

4. Cracks

Unlike most chips which only occur on the outer layer of glass, cracks can happen on either the inside or outside. They are easily identified in that they consist of a single line separating the glass pane. Cracks can happen as a result of temperature changes, and often have no specific impact point. Of course, they can also work outward from smaller star breaks. Unfortunately, once a crack occurs, it may quickly grow, especially in cold weather.

5. Combination Break

Windshield damage types are not mutually exclusive; any chip or crack can occur in conjunction with any other. For example, if you have a bull’s eye with star break legs extending outward, that in turn become long cracks across the windshield, you have a combination break.

Getting a cracked windshield, especially when it occurs as a result of some passing semi neglecting to use mud flaps, can be incredibly aggravating. But don’t worry, if you’re quick about getting into a shop, then chances are that you’ll be able to get the chip repaired without having to purchase a new windshield. Additionally, most car insurance coverage includes windshield chip repair costs. If the overall damage is smaller than the area of a silver dollar, then it should be fixable. Even cracks that are shorter than six inches may be repairable with a special resin compound. If the damage is too extensive, or if it includes damage to the inner windshield, you’re just going to have to bite your lip and have the whole thing replaced. It might cost you a couple hundred dollars, but at least you’ll have a brand new windshield to help you see the road and stay out of trouble.

Sladen West is a freelance writer dedicated to helping others stay safe through general auto safety education and defensive driving course promotion.