When a hailstorm hit Mississippi earlier this year, glass shops started working overtime at the state fairgrounds to help deal with nearly 50,000 auto insurance claims. While many of us may never witness that sort of widespread problem, a stone or road debris that gets kicked up on the highway can cause windshield damage. Here’s a rundown of the factors that can determine the extent of the damage to your windshield:
Laminated glass is used in automobile windshields, and consists of two sheets of glass with a layer of plastic sandwiched in between. While damage can occur, laminated glass will not shatter.
The side and rear windows of your car are probably made of tempered glass. Unlike the glass in your windshield, tempered glass is a single layer, but it’s also heat-treated to keep it from breaking into sharp shards. When tempered glass breaks, it shatters into small, dull, pebble-like pieces.
Glass shops refer to the area where the damage occurred as the “impact site.” Since your windshield is made of laminated glass, the impact site is usually on the outside layer of your windshield. (Photo: Flikr/runran)
If you pinpoint the exact location where your windshield was hit by an object, you’ve found what repair shops call the “pit.” You can usually identify the pit because a small piece of glass will be missing as a result of the impact.
Hitting the bull’s-eye isn’t a good thing if you’re talking about your windshield. This type of damage has a dark-colored circular shape with an impact hole.
Like a bull’s-eye, a half moon has a darker color and an impact hole, but its shape isn’t completely circular.
Cracks can happen on the inner or outer side of your windshield, and are characterized by a single-line separation in the pane of glass.
Small cracks sometimes splinter out from a break in your windshield, which repair shops call “legs.”
Just like a bull’s-eye, a star break gets its name for its recognizable shape. You can identify a star break by its short cracks or legs, which shoot outward from the pit.
When two different types of damage are in one spot, such as a star within a bull’s-eye, you may have a combination break.
A chip or break in your windshield glass can be a little like a snowflake: Each one can be different depending on what hit your windshield, and how it caused damage.
If you’ve got a damaged windshield it might make sense to have it replaced or repaired sooner rather than later, especially if it affects your visibility. As Edmunds points out, “A rock chip or bull’s-eye right in your line of vision is a real irritation.”