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There’s a chip in my windscreen. What should I do?

A chipped or cracked windscreen is a common problem, but you’ll need to get it sorted as quickly as possible.

Luckily, getting a chip in a windscreen fixed should be fairly straightforward – and it’ll be both cheaper and easier if you have the right insurance in place.

A chipped or cracked windscreen is a common problem, but you’ll need to get it sorted as quickly as possible.

Luckily, getting a chip in a windscreen fixed should be fairly straightforward – and it’ll be both cheaper and easier if you have the right insurance in place.

Written by
Rory Reid
Car and technology expert
Last Updated
13 JULY 2023
5 min read
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What causes a cracked or chipped windscreen?

In most cases, windscreen damage is caused by loose stones or gravel flying up from the road. Windscreens can also be dented by tree branches and other debris blown by high winds, along with hailstones, bird strikes and even wayward golf balls.

A chip in a windscreen could be present for months, even years, then suddenly turn into a crack – perhaps while you’re driving. Changes in temperature on particularly hot or cold days can be a factor.

Sometimes a chip will turn into a windscreen crack with no obvious cause – it could simply be bad luck.

How serious is a windscreen crack?

If you spot a tiny windscreen chip, you may be tempted to ignore it – after all, the screen is mostly intact, right? But if you don’t get it fixed, it could become a large crack and eventually even shatter the windscreen.

A cracked windscreen can be dangerous because:

  • It could limit your view of the road, potentially causing an accident. This is especially true in bright sunshine, when chips and cracks can catch the light and dazzle you.
  • A crack could cause the airbags to inflate the wrong way in an accident, potentially putting lives at risk.
  • If your car rolls over in an accident, the roof is more likely to cave in if the windscreen is cracked, as it provides less structural integrity.

How do I prevent a chip in my windscreen spreading?

It’s always best to get a small chip or crack repaired quickly before it spreads across the windscreen. After all, it’s quicker and cheaper to fix minor damage. A fully cracked windscreen, on the other hand, will usually need to be replaced.

In the meantime, there are measures you can take to help slow the spread of a crack. You can try to fix a chip by sealing it with an epoxy or acrylic adhesive – this could stop dirt and moisture getting into it.

You should also avoid sudden temperature changes. If you point a heating vent at your chipped windscreen in cold weather, this could cause the crack to spread rapidly.

Similarly, pouring warm or hot water onto a cold or frozen windscreen could cause a crack to spread.

Can you drive with a cracked windscreen?

You might be wondering if it’s illegal to drive with a cracked windscreen. It can be, if the crack is severe.

The Highway Code says that vehicles must be in a ‘roadworthy’ condition, which includes the windows and windscreen. You should have a full view of the road ahead and make sure glass is kept clean and in a good condition.

If you’re driving with a cracked windscreen that doesn’t give you a clear view of the road ahead, you may face legal repercussions. These could include up to three penalty points and a fine of £2,500 for driving a vehicle in a dangerous condition, if you’re stopped by the police.

These rules apply even if you have a valid MOT certificate

Can a chipped windscreen fail an MOT?

The condition of glass in your car is part of the official MOT, and a damaged windscreen could cause it to fail its MOT. MOT windscreen rules state that if there’s a damaged area larger than 10mm in the driver’s line of sight, it’s an MOT fail.

The driver’s line of sight is specified as a vertical section of the windscreen, 290mm wide, starting from the centre of the steering wheel and going up to where the wiper blades can reach. Basically, it’s the glass in front of you when you look straight ahead while driving. Outside the driver’s line of sight, damaged areas can be up to 40mm wide and still pass an MOT.

The MOT inspection also looks at the windscreen as a whole, as well as the front side windows and rear visibility.

How can I protect my windscreen?

Although it’s not always possible to stop debris from hitting your car, you could help prevent windscreen chips and cracks.

  • Never pour hot or boiling water onto a frozen windscreen. Sudden changes in temperature can crack glass. Use an ice-scraper or de-icer instead.
  • Watch your speed on newly laid and resurfaced roads to avoid stones and gravel hitting your windscreen.
  • Don’t drive too close to the vehicle in front, especially on uneven or gravel roads. Vehicles can spray debris, which could crack your windscreen or damage your paintwork.
  • Try to keep your car sheltered when it’s parked as this could help prevent it being struck by flying debris.

Does my car insurance cover chips and other damage to my windscreen?

Many – but not all – comprehensive policies include windscreen cover as standard. But you’ll need to check whether claiming affects your no-claims bonus. You’ll also need to check whether you’ll need to pay the full excess – this is the amount you pay towards a claim.

If you’re not covered, you may be able to pay extra and get windscreen cover as an add-on.

Without cover, it could be expensive to fix a chip in a windscreen – especially if your car is fitted with advanced driving assistance technology (ADAS) sensors. This could make windscreens much more costly to replace.

Windscreen insurance could limit how much you’ll have to pay, even if your windscreen needs replacing. It can also make the process easier, as some repair companies will work directly with your insurance provider.

Frequently asked questions

Can a cracked windscreen be repaired?

A cracked windscreen will usually need to be replaced. But if the windscreen is only chipped – depending on its size and whereabouts – it should be fixable.

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Rory Reid - car and technology expert

Rory Reid is a car and technology expert. He serves as the main presenter on Auto Trader’s YouTube channel and was previously a host on BBC Top Gear and its sister show Extra Gear. He is also a presenter on Fifth Gear. Previously, he hosted Sky TV’s Gadget Geeks, CNET’s Car Tech channel, BBC Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition and on the YouTube channel Fast, Furious & Funny.

Learn more about Rory

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