Driving With a Cracked Windshield
Driving with a cracked windshield is dangerous, and can lead to costly repairs. Here are some tips on how to avoid those headaches.
You were driving along when all of a sudden a stone was kicked up by a passing truck. Now you have a tiny star-shaped crack in the windshield. Sure, that crack might be harmless right now, but it can quickly go from being a swift repair to a total windshield replacement very fast. If you’re thinking about driving with a cracked windshield, don’t. There are too many risks involved.
If your vehicle has a chipped or cracked windshield, it is best to get it repaired as soon as possible. We’re going to explain why.
Factors Affecting How Long You Can Drive With a Cracked Windshield
You might see others driving around with cracked windshields, but they probably don’t understand how unsafe cracks can become. The size of the crack is certainly a factor in this, however. Smaller chips and cracks may be safe for a while, but larger cracks, particularly those that go from one end of the windshield to the other, may be illegal in your state.
The other factor is location. Cracks can spread then hinder your view of the road while you drive. In this case, you should get the crack repaired immediately. A small crack located on the passenger side, on the other hand, is less dangerous. You can drive for hundreds of miles and never even notice it.
Interestingly, newer car models with front-facing cameras mounted near the rear-view mirror could also be affected by a chip or crack. Damages to the windshield that are close to these cameras could throw off their accuracy or affect other safety features, like adaptive cruise control, lane departure warnings, collision avoidance, and more. If you have to get a total windshield replacement, those camera systems will also need to be recalibrated.
Why Repair Windshield Cracks Immediately
Even the tiniest of cracks should be repaired as soon as you can. Yes, the cost of a windshield repair can be expensive, but the price of a whole replacement is even more. You could potentially save hundreds by repairing the crack soon after it happens rather than waiting for the damage to spread.
Additionally, if your car is up for a state inspection, or if driving with a large crack is illegal, you don’t want to risk being penalized. That is even more costly. As long as you have less than three cracks that are less than six inches long, you can get the windshield repaired.
Why Do Windshield Cracks Grow Over Time?
There are a couple of reasons why a windshield crack grows rather than staying isolated. First, going down a bumpy road could widen the crack or make it spread deeper into the glass. Dirt can also get into the fissure, weakening the structural integrity of the windshield. Next, leaving your car in the middle of a parking lot on a hot summer day could worsen the crack. The heat will force the crack to grow wider as it tries to escape. The same is true for fluctuating temperatures or extremely cold weather.
This is why you shouldn’t go driving with a cracked windshield. Anything you do could potentially make the chip or crack worse, leading to a full windshield replacement.
Tips to Prevent Windshield Cracks From Spreading
Can’t get to the auto glass repair shop right away? Don’t worry. There are a few things you can do to make driving with a cracked windshield slightly less problematic:
1. Buy a windshield kit
You can find a high-quality windshield repair kit at your local hardware or auto parts store. To do this correctly, you are going to need to bore a hole into the top layer of the windshield with a 1/16-inch drill bit, right over the chip or crack. Take the special resin from the kit and use it to seal the hole in the glass. This helps reduce the stress on the windshield and prevents cracks from forming. Sometimes, this does the trick and you don’t have to worry about further repairs.
2. Pick a shady parking spot
Since glass expands in the heat and contracts in the cold, you want to avoid sudden temperature changes. For example, if you direct the heating vent towards the windshield when it’s freezing outside, you’re going to see the crack widen. Whenever possible, park your car in the shade and away from inclement weather. Avoid using the defroster, too.
3. Try clear acrylic nail polish
There are some auto repair hacks that claim you can use superglue and masking tape to cover the crack, but that could lead to a windshield repair. Instead, you can try putting clear acrylic nail polish over the crack instead.
The solution is temporary, though it does a great job at keeping the crack together and dirt-free long enough for you to schedule a windshield repair appointment. Plus, if you mess up, you can easily wipe away acrylic nail polish with an acetone nail polish remover. It’s safe for glass.
Whatever you do, avoid letting a windshield crack get too large. Driving with a cracked windshield might not seem treacherous, but the situation could worsen rapidly. Rather than getting slammed with a fine or an expensive windshield replacement, get your windshield chips and cracks repaired immediately.