With inclement weather like severe thunderstorms, your vehicle can take some hits. This damage includes falling debris and other common causes of cracked windshields and broken windows. It seems that with each passing year, the number of annual insurance claims for hail damage increases. If hail, a passing truck or other culprit causes damage to your windshield, it is important to immediately seek windshield repair. Broken windshields can make your vehicle unsafe for you and your passengers.
Is driving with a cracked windshield dangerous?
If you only have a small chip or crack in your windshield, it is not dangerous to drive your vehicle. However, with changing temperatures or outdoor conditions, that tiny chip can quickly spread and obstruct the driver’s view. Other major reasons why you should seek immediate windshield repair include:
- Damaged windshields are weakened and provide less protection
- Crack windshields provide less visibility
Your windshield plays an important role in keeping you and your passengers safe. These two layers of glass held together by laminate can take an extreme impact, such as in an auto accident. In these situations, the windshield may crack, chip or even shatter. But when one layer of the glass experiences damage, the windshield maintains its shape. The laminate and second layer of glass keep shards from falling into the passenger compartment or injuring people inside.
Despite this protective layer of laminate and the second pane of glass, you should not ignore your chipped, cracked or broken windshield. Even the slightest crack has affected the structure of the glass, reducing its integrity and leaving it prone to failure. It will no longer protect you as it should in an accident or under other dangerous circumstances. If you have a large crack in the window, you should immediately repair or replace it.
Besides degrading the windshield’s structural integrity, a break in this surface can impair the driver’s vision. The cracked glass refracts light and can create a glare on the glass. This glare and broken viewpoint can easily obstruct your view of pedestrians, other vehicles and hazards in the road. You can struggle to see traffic lights or signs clearly, too. When driving at night, light refraction can cause problems with seeing oncoming cars.
Will my cracked windshield shatter?
A windshield repair technician can fix most small chips and cracks using products specially designed for this purpose. This work keeps the glass fractures from spreading. Unfortunately, cracks commonly spread even before you realize the gravity of your problem or can drive your vehicle into a repair shop.
A windshield chip or crack weakens that point in the glass. When you drive over potholes, bumps or dips in the roadway, your vehicle’s body flexes. This causes the glass to flex in response. Temperature and moisture also cause the glass to expand and contract. Under this strain, a cracked windshield can actually shatter. This is why you should not wait to repair the crack or chip.
It is also important that you do not press on the broken area of your windshield, such as from the inside of your car. This can actually expand the window crack because of the window’s weakened structure.
As described in the section above, a shattered windshield still holds itself together, thanks to the attached laminate and strong adhesives used in its engineering. But you cannot drive your vehicle without a front window. It costs far more to have your vehicle towed to a shop than to get a simple crack or chip fixed when it occurs.
Do I need my windshield repaired or replaced?
A fully broken or shattered windshield requires replacement before you can drive your vehicle. Large cracks typically require replacement if they keep spreading or the crack crosses the line of the driver’s sight. But your local repair technician can fix small cracks or chips. If you need your windshield replaced, they can perform that service, too.