What to Do if a Rock Hits Your Windshield: Repair & Replacement Guide

When a rock hits your car windshield, there’s no need for panic – if the impact has resulted in a small chip or crack, it may be an easy fix. Chips and cracks are not just aesthetic imperfections; they pose a real danger to your safety if left untreated. If the damage is more extensive, such as a large crack or shattered glass, windshield replacement is necessary.

After evaluating the damage on your own, the next step is to contact a professional auto glass service. Even if the damage seems minor, seeking professional advice is essential because a pro can determine whether a repair or replacement is the best course of action, which can help you avoid dangerous complications down the road. Most glass repair services offer mobile services, allowing the glass professional to come to you, wherever it’s convenient for you. Here’s a step-by-step guide, walking you through what to do if a rock hits your windshield.

Assessing the Damage of the Rock-Chipped Windshield

Assessing the overall damage from the rock impact is the first step. Various types of rocks and debris can impact a car’s windshield, and the extent of the damage can vary based on the size, speed, and nature of the impact.

Different Types of Windshield Damage

After an object impacts your windshield, here are some common types of damage to look for:

Chips: Chips appear as small, localized circular marks on the glass. While a windshield chip may appear small, it can still compromise the structural integrity of your windshield and should be repaired as soon as possible.

Cracks: Cracks are more extensive than chips and can be caused by large rocks or significant impacts. They may vary in length and will eventually compromise the integrity of the windshield. It’s possible to repair a crack if it is short (less than 3 inches), but longer cracks will require a windshield replacement.

Bull's Eye: A bull's eye is a type of chip that has a dark circle in the center, resembling a target. It's caused by a direct impact, and the dark spot is where the object made contact. Bull's eye damage is usually repairable.

Star Break: Star breaks are characterized by a series of short, radial lines extending from a central impact point. They resemble a starburst pattern and can vary in size. Depending on the location and severity. Star break damage can be repaired in some cases.

Combination Breaks: Combination breaks involve a combination of various types of windshield damage, such as chips and cracks. Whether this damage can be repaired depends on the extent and type of damage.

Edge Crack: An edge crack occurs when the damage is located near the edge of the windshield. Edge cracks are more challenging to repair, and can easily compromise the structural integrity of your windshield. In most cases, a windshield replacement is most likely the solution.

Immediate Window Repair Steps to Take

When a rock hits your windshield,  there are several safety precautions you should immediately take to ensure your well-being and maintain the safety of the vehicle and other occupants. Prompt and appropriate action will maintain the structural integrity of your vehicle.

Here are some immediate steps to follow:

Assess the Damage: Immediately get a firsthand look at the extent of the damage. Look for chips, cracks, or any compromised areas on the windshield. If there is significant damage that obstructs your vision, pull over to a safe location.

Avoid Distractions: Try your best not to let the damage distract you while driving. Focus on the road and surrounding traffic to maintain safe driving conditions.

Maintain a Safe Following Distance: Increase your following distance from the vehicle in front of you which will minimize the risk of further damage from debris kicked up by other vehicles.

Avoid Sudden Temperature Changes: Avoid exposing the damaged windshield to sudden temperature changes, such as using air conditioning on a hot day or defrosting on a cold day. Extreme temperature changes can cause the damage to spread.

Schedule Repairs Promptly: Even if the damage seems minor, schedule repairs promptly. Small chips can often be repaired, preventing them from spreading and reducing the need for a replacement later.

Protect Yourself: If the windshield is severely damaged, don’t operate the vehicle. Call for immediate roadside service.

Consult the Professionals: Seek the advice of professionals for a thorough inspection of the damage. A professional auto glass repair service will determine if the windshield can be repaired or requires a complete replacement.

Avoid DIY Repairs for Extensive Damage: While there are DIY repair kits for minor windshield chips, they don’t always work. You should never try to repair extensive windshield damage on your own. A professional has the expertise and right equipment to resolve significant windshield issues.

Insurance Assessment: Check your auto insurance coverage as it relates to windshield repairs or a replacement. Some policies cover the entire cost of a replacement without impacting your monthly premium.

Regular Maintenance: Conduct regular maintenance checks on your vehicle, including the windshield, to identify and address any potential issues before they get worse.

Insurance Considerations

As a vehicle owner, you should be proactive in understanding your car insurance coverage, particularly when it comes to addressing issues like a cracked or chipped windshield. Your auto insurance policy may have specific provisions related to glass coverage, and it's crucial to review these details to know what expenses may be covered. Most comprehensive auto insurance policies include coverage for windshield damage, which means that the cost of repairing or replacing a cracked or chipped windshield may be covered, often without affecting your premium.

Before seeking windshield repair or replacement services, contact your insurance provider directly to discuss your particular coverage details. They can guide you on the steps to take, including the preferred network of auto glass repair shops or specific procedures to follow. Some insurance companies may have partnerships with preferred providers.

Understanding your car insurance coverage and how to file a claim for windshield damage is a proactive step that can save you both time and money.

Tips to Minimize The Risks of Windshield Damage

While it's impossible to completely eliminate the risk of a rock hitting your car windshield, there are several measures you can take to minimize the likelihood of such an incident and reduce potential damage. Follow these prevention steps the next time you hop in the driver’s seat:

Maintain a Safe Following Distance: Keep a safe following distance behind other vehicles, especially trucks and vehicles that are carrying or transporting debris. This provides more reaction time if debris falls from the back or is kicked up by the vehicle in front of you.

Avoid Tailgating Construction Vehicles: Be cautious when driving near construction zones or trucks carrying loose materials. Maintaining a safe distance from these vehicles reduces the risk of any debris, rocks included, hitting your windshield.

Drive Defensively: Be aware of your surroundings and anticipate potential hazards. Defensive driving includes scanning the road ahead for loose gravel, construction zones, or road shoulders.

Avoid Poorly Maintained Roads: Choose routes with well-maintained roads to reduce the chances of encountering loose gravel or debris. Avoid driving through unpaved roads whenever possible.

Slow Down in Construction Zones: Reduce your speed when driving through construction zones. Slower speeds allow for better control and reaction time in case debris is present.

Use Windshield Protectants: Apply a windshield protectant or coating that can help strengthen the glass and make it more resistant to small impacts. These products can sometimes prevent minor chips or cracks.

Replace Worn Wiper Blades: Worn-out or damaged wiper blades can contribute to the spread of cracks in a windshield. Regularly replace your wiper blades to maintain clear visibility and minimize the risk of damage.

Know Road Conditions Before Heading Out: Check for road condition updates, especially during inclement weather. Being informed about potential hazards allows you to plan your route accordingly.

Glass Doctor Can Help With Windshield Damage

Windshield damage can happen to the best of us, and it’s important to note that no method is foolproof. That’s why your local Glass Doctor offers a Windshield Protection Plan, which is included at no cost with any windshield replacement. The comprehensive plan covers unlimited repairs or a single glass windshield replacement within 12 months of the original windshield installation date.

If you have a chip or crack on your windshield, talk to a windshield professional about repairs or a replacement. Whether you need to schedule a simple repair or a whole windshield replacement, your local Glass Doctor is here to help. Call or schedule an appointment online today!