Windshield Wounds: Are You Hurting or Helping Your Windshield?
The things your windshield encounters are as varied as dirt and rocks to insects and birds. Most windshields act as protection, but chips and cracks can be just as dangerous as flying objects and insects. Even small chips and cracks can lead to major structural damage and accidents.
Most drivers assume they have what it takes to fix a minor chip or crack, and while some do, others damage the windshield beyond repair. Although it might seem like an easy DIY project, fixing a windshield takes expertise and precision. When it comes to dealing with your damaged windshield, here are the do’s and don’ts.
- Make sure the damage doesn’t interfere with your view. Even minor cracks, dings, and chips cause major accidents if they obscure your line of sight. Be incredibly careful if you do have to drive with a chip or crack in your windshield.
- Park your car away from the sun. When heat builds up in your car, the windshield weakens and causes cracks to grow. To prevent this, keep your car inside the garage or under some shade.
- Protect your windshield cracks and chips by placing a piece of clear tape over the point of impact. Even small, clear pieces of tape can further obstruct your view when driving, so keep your taping to the minimum.
- Measure the crack or chip as soon as you notice it. If the crack exceeds 12 inches in length, or the chip is larger than a quarter, you should consider replacing the entire windshield as a safety precaution.
- Contact auto glass specialists for professional advice and service. No one is as skilled at windshield replacement and repair as the pros.
- Don’t get your car wet. Like heat, water further damages cracked and chipped windshields, so you should avoid driving through any car washes or rainstorms.
- Don’t slam your doors. Any extra pressure in your car might cause cracks to spread.
- Don’t drive often. Instead, get your crack or chip fixed as soon as possible. If the crack in your windshield is longer than 12 inches, avoid driving altogether. Don’t worry about repairing an extremely long crack or large chip. Replacing your windshield is probably a better option in this case.
- Don’t allow extreme temperatures inside the car. If you live in a hot climate, keep your car in shade and avoid blasting the air conditioning. If you are in a cold climate, keep your car in the garage and never turn the heat to the warmest degree. Either temperature extreme can further damage your windshield.
- Don’t ignore cracks, dings, or chips. Ignorance is bliss until your windshield shatters unexpectedly. Keep your eyes on any spreading cracks and don’t hesitate to contact professionals.
Although protecting your windshield from damage isn’t always within your control, you can take certain precautions to minimize your chances of contracting major cracks and chips.
1. Park your car in a protected place. If you constantly park your car outdoors, make sure it is away from playgrounds, golf courses, and grocery carts. Walk an extra few feet to the park, store, or course to ensure your car stays a safe distance away.
Some drivers forget how much small debris can damage a car. For instance, your lawn mower can pick up and launch rocks—which spells major windshield damage if you’ve parked your car on the curb. It’s better to be safe than sorry: park your car in a garage and away from a busy street or curb whenever possible.
2. Drive defensively and at a distance. As busy people, we are constantly in a hurry, but don’t let your “pedal to the metal” habits put your windshield at risk. Keep a safe distance from the cars in front of you. Some trucks are loaded with loose rocks, gravel, and other debris, and your windshield is the obvious victim of impact.
You should also do whatever you can to avoid highway shoulders. Loose debris and rocks accumulate on the edges of a highway and can cause major windshield damage if you drive over them and kick them up.
3. Inspect your windshield regularly. The sooner you find a crack, chip, or ding, the better. If you find minor damage, get it repaired immediately to avoid spending more money in the future for a windshield replacement.
4. Whenever possible, don’t scrape ice from your windshield. In some climates (especially during cold Utah winters), scraping ice is a must. In this case, you should always turn on your car’s defroster for a few minutes before scraping ice away.
If you use a scraper or ice pick, don’t chop or stab at an ice-covered windshield. Under no circumstances should you pour hot water on an iced-over windshield—extreme temperature differences could shatter your windshield.
As beneficial as they are, windshields also pose a safety risk when damaged. Don’t ignore the small, seemingly harmless cracks, chips, and dings on your windshield. Your wallet and well-being will thank you for paying close attention to your windshield’s safety and function.