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CAR CARE: Follow these tips if you get a windshield chip

Clear packing tape a quick fix if you can't get to a repair shop
Stone Chips
A small chip can turn into a big problem if left unrepaired.

So you’ve done everything you can to avoid getting a chip in your windshield, but – oh no! – a rock flies out of nowhere, you hear the thunk and know that the damage is done. What do you do now?

Job No. 1 is to get the chip repaired as soon as possible so that the damaged area can be filled. Getting the chip repaired could stop it from spreading into a larger crack and potentially save you from having to replace the whole windshield later. ICBC now allows customers who have their optional comprehensive coverage to get a chipped windshield repaired for free at approved facilities, provided that it is safe and appropriate to fix the damage.

But what if you can’t get the damage fixed right away? It’s important to repair the chip as soon as possible, but there are some short-term fixes to reduce the risk of the damage spreading. Here are some tips to help you cover that chip and keep it together until you can get a proper fix.

Don’t wash with water

You’ll want to keep the damaged area clean, but you definitely should not wash it with water. Water can seep in through the crack and wreck your windshield, or at least keep the repair resin from working correctly once you do get it fixed. If you must clean off the area in or around a chip, it is best to use a clean, dry, lint-free cloth or paper towel.

Be careful, however, not to put too much pressure on the damaged area, from inside or outside the window.

Tape it!

If you really can’t get the chip fixed right away there is one temporary fix to buy you a bit more time. Placing a piece of clear packing tape – the kind you would use to seal up moving boxes – over the chip from the outside of the window can protect the damaged area and keep moisture and dirt out.

Note that it must be clear packing tape – using clear tape allows you to see through the affected area, and if you use other types of tape such as Scotch Tape, duct tape, masking tape or painters’ tape you’ll be doing more harm than good as it will not have the desired effect of keeping out dirt and moisture.

Fix it!

Just to reiterate that packing tape is a quick, temporary fix that will not keep your crack or chip from spreading. A bump in the road, a change in temperature, a car door slam, or even exposure to an afternoon of bright sunshine can cause cracks to form. So get rid of that small problem as soon as you can before it becomes a big problem.