It could be a tiny chip in the corner, or it could be a massive spiderwebbing crack that spreads out across your entire windshield. Either way, it means an often expensive repair, even if your car insurance covers part of the cost, to get the windshield replaced. In some cases, these repairs are unavoidable but the best thing you can do is take steps to protect your windshield. Here are six things you can try to keep your windshield in one piece and your money in your wallet.
1. Don’t Tailgate
This should be common sense, especially if you’re on the interstate and surrounded by massive tractor-trailers, but it happens more often than we’d like to admit so it bears repeating. Don’t tailgate. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 23% of crashes every year are rear-ending collisions — and 11% of those are caused by tailgating.
Keep your distance from other cars on the road that might kick up rocks or other road debris with their tires. Especially keep your distance from large tractor-trailers and dump trucks that might be hauling gravel or other things that could chip or crack your windshield.
2. Stay Off the Highway
If you’re trying to make your way from Point A to Point B, the first thing you’re going to look at is the fastest route — and that’s usually made up of highways and interstates. If you need to reach your destination quickly, they’re a great option, but if you’re trying to prevent chips and cracks on your windshield, it might be a good idea to take the scenic route.
Highways see a lot of traffic, and it all travels at high speeds, making it the perfect place to have a rock thrown into your windshield that might result in a crack. If you have the time to spare, take the scenic route. Your windshield will thank you.
3. Park Somewhere Covered
If you’re going to be leaving your car for an extended period, make it a point to park in a covered garage or another area that will help to protect your windshield from the elements. This is especially important if you’re leaving your daily driver for a long period of time at someplace like an airport. And even more important if that area is prone to harsh weather.
In Texas, for example, hail storms cause millions or billions worth of damage every year. In 2016, hailstorms in Austin caused $1.4 billion in damage. While replacing a windshield broken by hail won’t set you back nearly that much, it’s still an expensive proposition that is best avoided.
4. Fix Chips Fast
If you’ve noticed a chip in your windshield, don’t ignore it — even if it’s in an out of the way corner of the glass. Make sure you’re fixing chips as quickly as possible or having them fixed professionally. In addition to ensuring that your field of view isn’t obstructed, fixing windshield chips prevents them from becoming cracks.
Anything can turn a chip into a crack, from additional air pressure during a storm to a drastic temperature change that causes the glass to expand and contract. Fixing chips is quick and easy, so don’t let little chips become cracks.
5. Replace Your Wipers Regularly
It’s tempting to leave your windshield wipers alone until they start to fall apart or stop working during an afternoon thunderstorm, but you’re actually putting undue pressure on your windshield. When wipers start to lose their shape over time, they start creating pressure points.
While this might not actively cause your windshield to crack or chip, it can make the glass more susceptible to damage in the future by reducing its strength. Keep an eye on your wipers and change them as recommended by your manufacturer.
6. Avoid Harsh Chemicals
What do you use to wash your car? For a lot of car owners, the answer to that question is whatever they have in their home, from dish soap to household ammonia. Stop using harsh chemicals and things that aren’t designed for cars on your daily driver. Dish soap contains abrasives that are designed to remove grime and food residue from dishes — and can strip the clear coat from your car.
Ammonia and other harsh chemicals like it dry out the plastic. If you use it on your windshield, you can damage the protective coating on the glass, compromising its structural integrity. Stick to glass cleaners designed for automotive use.
Stay Safe Out There!
Your windshield might seem like one big target when it comes to rocks and other road debris, but there are plenty of steps that you can take to protect your windshield and prevent an expensive repair.