When your windshield has sustained a chip or crack, obviously the best course of action is to have it repaired immediately. However, due to time constraints or financial issues, this may not be possible right away. If you have to wait a few days or weeks before consulting a windshield repair technician, there are a few things you can do in the meantime to protect your car.
First of all, the most important thing is to never drive if the chip or crack obstructs your view. This can be more dangerous than you would think, and you may end up with a completely wrecked car instead of just a windshield crack. Also, never drive if a chip is larger than a quarter or a crack is longer than 12 inches, even if you think you can see just fine. With larger areas of damage such as these, the integrity of the windshield is most likely compromised. If you experience a collision in a car with a badly damaged windshield, the risk of injury or death is much higher. This is because the windshield provides important structural support to the roof of the car, as well as support for airbag deployment.
If you can drive the car safely, there are plenty of things you can do for a short time to prevent the crack or chip from growing larger. Here are some do’s and don’ts.
- Placing clear masking tape over the area of damage will help keep dirt out of the crack, which will make the eventual repair more effective. Only do this, however, if the tape will not be in your direct line of sight and obstruct your vision. Don’t wash your car either, or you can force water into the crack.
- Extreme variations in temperature can cause a crack to grow, so don’t pour warm water on an icy windshield or blast it with your defroster on the high setting. Since sunlight can heat a car very quickly to high degrees, park only in the shade or inside a garage if possible. During the summer, don’t cool a very hot car by blasting the air conditioner. Allow it to air out by opening doors and windows, and run the cold air on low or medium. This will prevent quick changes in temperature that can cause glass to crack.
- Jolting the windshield can also cause damage to spread. Don’t slam car doors, and be aware that a stereo with very powerful bass can rattle the glass and enlarge any existing cracks or chips. Hitting speed bumps or potholes at high speeds can also cause further damage to the windshield.
One of the most important things you should do is to call your insurance company and ask about glass repair. You may be pleasantly surprised to find out that the repair is covered under your policy, and you won’t have to wait until payday to get it fixed. This is really the best course of action, because this type of repair should not be postponed any longer than absolutely necessary.
And here are some tips on how you can protect your windshield.
6 Ways to Protect Your Windshield
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.