How To Prevent a Windshield Crack From Getting Worse

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We’ve all been there. We’re driving down the road, and something flies up and hits the windshield.

Maybe it was that dump truck ahead of you with the “Not Responsible For Broken Windshields” sticker on the back. Or maybe it came from that lady driving her SUV on the gravel strewn shoulder while texting.

Wherever it came from, we hope it doesn’t leave a crack, but sometimes it does. So what should you do, and how do you keep the crack from getting worse?

keep windshield crack from spreading

Why It’s Important to Stop a Crack From Spreading

Most windshield cracks start small, and if you take the time to repair them right away, it’s much easier. In fact, if you wait too long, the crack can spread too much and make it impossible to repair.

Not only that, but as a windshield crack spreads, it can reduce visibility, and if it spreads too far, it can make the vehicle unsafe to drive. The last thing you want is a windshield falling apart on you when you’re driving down the road!

DIY Repair Methods

how to use a windshield repair kit

If your windshield only has a smaller crack, there are plenty of repair kits you can purchase to repair it yourself. Usually, these kits often cost less than $20 and come with everything you need to repair it yourself.

One of our favorites is this windshield repair kit from Rain-X, but there are plenty of outstanding kits out there. Just keep in mind that these kits only work for small chips, not full-blown cracks.

Also, if your windshield has a simple scratch instead of a full-blown crack you’ll need repair the problem a different way.

Professional Repair or Replacement

If you don’t want to repair the windshield yourself, there are plenty of automotive repair shops that will evaluate your windshield and repair or replace it for you. In fact, if you have full coverage insurance and only have a windshield chip, many insurance plans will cover it without a deductible!

If you have a crack larger than a chip but smaller than 12 inches, a professional repair shop can usually repair it, but cracks larger than 12 inches generally need a window replacement. The cost will vary from car to car, and insurance might be able to offset some of the cost for you.

Understanding Windshield Cracks

There’s a lot that goes into windshield cracks, and not all cracks are the same. That’s why we took the time to highlight the difference between cracks and chips, the different types of windshield cracks, and so much more for you here.


While you might think all cracks and chips are the same, that’s not the case. Windshield cracks can come in different shapes and sizes, and we’ve highlighted a few of the different types you should be aware of here.

One of the most common types is a surface chip. With surface chips, you don’t always need to repair them, and they won’t spread unless something else comes up and hits the same spot. That’s because surface chips only affect the outermost layer of the windshield; it’s not a crack that goes the whole way through.

When the chip does go completely through the windshield, there are several types of chips. These include a bullseye, a half-moon, a star, angel wings, a starburst, and a straight crack. No matter the type of chip, you can repair them as long as they’re still a chip. 

However, when the chip starts to spread, it can turn into a full-blown crack. If the crack gets too large, you might not be able to repair it, and once it’s a full-blown crack, it can spread quickly!

Cracks vs Chips

chip in windshield
windshield chip

Cracks and chips might seem like the same thing, but the truth is they’re completely different. Window chips refer to small damage to the windshield, while window cracks refer to longer and more extensive damage.

Chips are usually small and circular, while cracks can start with circular chips but spread out in straight lines. Chips can turn into cracks, and chips are much easier and much less expensive to repair.


driving behind dump trucks

By far, the most common cause of windshield cracks is something coming up off the road or off a tire and hitting the windshield. When this happens, it usually makes a loud noise inside your car, and typically, the crack will start as a chip. As long as you repair the chip quickly, it’s usually not a huge deal.

However, while this is the most likely cause of a cracked windshield, it’s not the only cause. Another common cause is a vehicle accident. However, with an accident, the windshield usually starts with a full-blown crack, and it’s not always repairable.

Another concern to be cautious about is extreme temperature fluctuations. Things like blowing extremely cold air on the windshield on a hot summer day or pouring boiling water on an icy windshield in January can crack a windshield.

Finally, improper installation can make it so a windshield doesn’t have the necessary space to expand and contract with different weather conditions or allow moisture along the side of the windshield. Either condition can lead to a windshield cracking over time.

See Also: Different Kinds of Car Scratches (and Repair Costs)

Tips to Minimize Windshield Crack Expansion

crack in windshield

If your windshield has a crack and you don’t have the time or money to repair it just yet, there are a few things you can do to help keep it from expanding. The best thing you can do is keep your vehicle off the road and preferably indoors, like parked in your garage.

This ensures the windshield won’t go through excessive vibrations or big temperature changes, both of which can cause cracks to spread. The less you drive your vehicle, the better. Every time you get behind the wheel of a vehicle with a crack, you’re just one bump or pothole in the road away from watching it spread across the entire windshield in the blink of an eye.

How Quickly Do Cracks Spread?

There are a lot of factors that affect how fast a windshield crack can spread, including the roads where you drive your vehicle, the weather, and more. However, under typical conditions, a windshield crack will start to spread in just one day, and after a few days, it’ll get even worse.

Often within a week or two, it will start to spread significantly across the windshield. However, if you keep your vehicle parked in a temperature-controlled environment, it might not spread at all.

Is It Safe to Drive With a Cracked Windshield?

Whether it’s safe to drive with a cracked windshield depends on the location and size of the cracks. If it’s a very small crack in a spot that doesn’t affect your visibility, it’s safe to drive with a cracked windshield.

But if the crack is larger than 12 inches or in an area that affects how well you can see through the windshield, it is unsafe to drive with a cracked windshield.

Adam Mann

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