Well, it happened again. You were following a dump truck on the freeway, and a rock fell off of it, bounced up and gave you a nice little crack on the windshield. You swore you’d never let that happen again, but now it’s too late. You’ve got another crack joining the other little chips and dings in the glass. Is it unsafe to drive? Should you get a new windshield, or is it no cause for concern?
Windshields today are more than a window on your car; they’re a significant part of vehicular safety. They consist of two layers of glass with a layer of plastic between them, and they are designed to keep passengers safe through all but the most severe impacts. But they’re not perfect, and as wear and tear from driving accumulate, they may need replacement.
Why should you consider replacing your windshield? For one thing, police officers may give you a ticket if your windshield appears unsafe. These tickets may approach the cost of a new windshield anyway. You are also at risk if you have significant windshield damage when you have your car’s annual safety inspection. Cracks extending more than six inches from the edge of the windshield may require you to replace the windshield before your annual registration may be completed.
The most serious concern, of course, is that a crack in your windshield could spread and even shatter, which puts your safety at risk. For that reason alone, you should follow these tips, courtesy of Cars.com, to keep yourself safe if your windshield is cracked.
You should evaluate the damage to the windshield. Repairing the crack is much less expensive than replacing the entire thing. Usually, repair is possible if a crack is less than 12 inches long or if a chip is smaller than a quarter. If the damage is larger than this, or if it interferes with your view, you should not drive the car until the windshield is repaired.
Minimize the opportunity for the crack to spread. You can temporarily place a piece of clear tape over the affected area, as long as it doesn’t obscure your vision. The tape will keep dirt out until you can have repairs completed.
Keep the windshield from exposure to extreme temperatures. Using your defroster in cold weather or air conditioner in the heat can weaken the windshield further. Even parking in the sunshine can create enough heat to weaken the glass. Park in the shade whenever possible.
If you plan on having the crack or chip repaired, don’t have your car washed or use the windshield wipers. Fluids getting into the damaged area can make the repair process less effective.
Be careful about sudden jolts to your car, whether during driving or even when shutting the doors. Sudden impacts can cause cracks to spread.
If you decide to have a repair done on your windshield, you should find a qualified auto glass specialist, rather than just going to a mechanic. Windshield replacement requires the proper training, and specialists may give you the best price. Also, many of them will come to you if you have a crack large enough to make driving dangerous.
The most important tip for windshield cracks is to keep yourself safe, and not put the cost of repair ahead of your family’s well-being. Windshield cracks are common, and they are frequently no cause for concern. But if you have one, look at it carefully and decide whether you need to have it repaired. The longer you wait, the more likely it is that you’ll be paying for a more expensive repair down the road.