If your windshield has been cracked or chipped, you may find yourself unsure whether it can be repaired or needs to be replaced. Because most windshield damage occurs when a rock or other piece of debris hits the windshield while you are driving, most cracks and chips follow one of a few distinct patterns. While taking your car to an auto glass repair shop is the only definite way to determine the best option for your windshield, looking at the type of damage on your windshield can help you estimate the likelihood of repair. Here is an explanation of three common types of windshield damage.

Dents and Chips

Also known as "half-moons," rounded dents and chips are one of the most common types of windshield damage. These chips are characterized by a rounded indentation on the windshield where a small part of the outer layer of glass has been dislodged. Half-moon chips have no smaller cracks running out from the center of the impact and are typically smaller than a quarter.

Fortunately, these common chips are also one of the easiest types for a professional auto glass repair shop to fix. Their regular shape and lack of cracks makes them easier to clean thoroughly, which in turn makes it much more likely the glass repair resin will adhere properly. Additionally, half-moon chips have a low likelihood of spreading and creating wider cracks on your windshield without further damage.

Bull's-Eye Marks

Bull's-eye cracks in windshields are caused by impacts of higher force than standard chips and dents. Named after dartboard bull's-eyes, these chips have a clearly visible impact point in the center and small, radial cracks extending outward in all directions. Bull's-eye marks occur when larger rocks or debris impact your windshield and can vary from the size of a quarter to larger than a fifty-cent piece.

In most cases, small bull's-eye marks can be repaired if they are not too large and there is not excessive cracking around the edges. An auto glass repair technician will need to clean the center impact mark as well as all of the cracks around the edges of the damage, and then make sure that every crack is filled with resin. In some cases, the impact mark may have removed too much glass or there may be too much risk of the cracks spreading outward, requiring you to replace the windshield.

Star or Cross Marks

Star marks are a type of damage that occur when two small cracks intersect directly at the center of the impact point, creating the appearance of a star or cross. These types of cracks are high-risk for the health of your windshield and need to be examined by a professional as soon as possible to maximize the chance of saving the windshield.

Star marks are a dangerous type of damage because they are very prone to spreading. In the worst cases, drivers will often find that the "legs" of the star have grown a few inches within a week or two after the crack first developed. Because these cracks are often deeper than other types of impact damage, they will gather dust over time that causes the cracks to spread and reduces the chance that glass repair resin can be applied effectively. Even the vibration from running the engine can cause star cracks to spread.

All of these types of windshield damage can be repaired if they are not too large and are brought to an auto glass repair shop quickly. However, you should have your windshield replaced as soon as possible if it has stress cracks or other damage near the edges. Learning to recognize common types of windshield damage will help you set accurate expectations for repairing or replacing a windshield.

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