My car windscreen is chipped. What should I do?

A chipped or cracked windscreen is a common problem, but the worst thing you can do is ignore it and hope it’ll be okay. The consequences of not repairing it could be serious. Luckily, getting it fixed should be relatively straightforward.

A chipped or cracked windscreen is a common problem, but the worst thing you can do is ignore it and hope it’ll be okay. The consequences of not repairing it could be serious. Luckily, getting it fixed should be relatively straightforward.

Written by
Rory Reid
Car and technology expert
Last Updated
24 AUGUST 2022
4 min read
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What causes a cracked or chipped windscreen?

In most cases, windscreens get damaged from loose stones or gravel flying up from the road and hitting them. 

But they 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 can be on your windscreen for months, even years, then suddenly turn into a crack – perhaps while you’re driving. Changes in temperature, such as excessive heat or winter driving conditions, can be a factor. But sometimes a chip will crack with no obvious cause. Sometimes it simply comes down to misfortune.

How serious is a cracked windscreen?

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

A cracked windscreen can be dangerous because:

  • It can severely limit your view of the road, potentially leading to accidents. This is especially true in bright sunshine, when a crack or chip could catch the light and dazzle you.
  • Damage can affect the structural integrity of your car. A crack could cause the airbags to inflate the wrong way in an accident, putting the lives of you and your passengers 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 stop a crack in my windscreen from spreading?

It’s always best to get a small chip or crack repaired as soon as possible before it spreads across the windscreen. After all, it’s much quicker and cheaper to fix minor damage as opposed to a fully cracked windscreen, which will usually need to be entirely replaced.

But, in the meantime, there are measures you can take to try to slow down the spread of a crack. You can attempt 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. Likewise, pouring warm or hot water onto a cold or frozen windscreen could cause a crack to spread.

Can I drive with a cracked windscreen?

Driving with a broken windscreen can be illegal depending on the severity of the crack. 

The Highway Code states 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 any glass is kept clean and in a good condition. 

If you’re driving with a cracked windscreen that doesn’t offer you a clear view of the road ahead, you could find yourself with up to three penalty points and a fine of £2,500, if you’re stopped by the police.

These rules apply even if you have a current MOT certificate.

Can a chipped windscreen fail an MOT?

Windscreen damage is part of the official MOT, and if you have a significant chip or crack that hasn’t been repaired, your car could fail the MOT test.

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 condition of the windscreen as a whole, as well as the front side windows and the rear visibility.

If you have a chip that’s been repaired with epoxy or resin, it won’t count as damage, as long as it doesn’t affect your visibility of the road. 

How can I protect my windscreen?

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

  • 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 flick up debris and crack your windscreen or damage your paintwork.
  • Try to keep your car sheltered while it’s parked as this will help to prevent it being struck by flying debris.

Does my car insurance cover windscreen damage?

Many, but not all, comprehensive policies include windscreen cover as standard. But you’ll need to check whether claiming for damage affects your no-claims bonus and 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 get windscreen cover as an add-on that you pay extra for. 

Without cover, it can be expensive to get windscreens repaired – especially if your car is fitted with advanced driving assistance technology (ADAS) sensors, which can make windscreens much more costly to replace.

Windscreen insurance limits the amount you’ll pay, even if your windscreen needs to be completely replaced. It could make the process easier too, as some repair companies will work directly with your insurance provider to sort out the financial details.

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