Since replacing cracked windshields tends to be expensive, many people wonder if they can drive a damaged windshield. In this article, we’ll show you whether it is safe to drive with a cracked windshield or whether you shall replace it straight away.
No matter how well you take care of your vehicle, you can’t always prevent it from getting damaged, and it’s especially true when we talk about car windshields. Rocks from the road and summer hails are the most common causes of cracked windshields.
So, it can happen to anyone, regardless of whether you are a good or bad driver.
4 Dangers of Driving With a Cracked Windshield
First things first, we want you to understand something. Driving with a cracked windshield may be dangerous for everyone in the vehicle.
Here are four dangers of driving with a cracked windshield:
- Driving with a cracked windshield may cause an accident. Cracks decrease the driver’s visibility, especially during the night, thus creating some blind spots on the road.
- A cracked windshield may impede airbags from working properly. Windshields aren’t just a barrier from the wind and rain. They also have a safety feature – to direct the airbag toward the passenger. If the windshield is broken and weakened, the airbag may come through it instead of activating toward the driver or passenger.
- A damaged windshield can weaken the roof structure. Windshields support the roof, and when they break, the overall firmness of the roof structure degrades, making the car less safe in the case of an accident.
- Driving with a cracked windshield may be illegal in your state. Depending on your state, driving a car with a damaged windshield may be unlawful. So, even if you ignore the three dangers above, you may still get a fine or, even worse, be excluded from the traffic until you fix the crack.
Now that you know all the dangers, let’s dive deeper into the topic, where I’ll try to explain everything in detail.
Can You Drive With a Cracked Windshield?
Cracks can be small (minor) or larger ones stretching across the windshield. The safety of driving with a cracked windshield depends on the type and size of the crack.
If the crack in the windshield is small and does not spread, you can drive the car for a while. Nothing bad should happen unless you expose the vehicle to extremely high speeds or storms. So, for minor cracks, I would say it’s safe to drive the car, but try to fix it as soon as possible.
If the crack is large and spread all over the glass, driving your vehicle is not very safe. The reason is that larger cracks can cause the windshield to break completely at any time. Of course, going for a mile to get home or to the repair shop won’t be a problem, but you should avoid driving your car unless necessary.
Most windshield cracks spread quickly, especially during extreme hot or cold temperatures. Literally, minor damage can spread over the windshield in less than a minute. Spreading usually stops near the ends of the windshield since it’s the firmest there.
However, small surface chips that don’t show lines won’t spread in many cases. Those cracks mostly happen from small road rocks that don’t have enough power to crack the windshield entirely.
Spreading usually happens just a few minutes after the initial crack. So, if the crack didn’t spread quickly and showed no lines, it may stop there. However, nobody can be 100% sure if the crack will spread or not, and that’s why we highly suggest fixing it as soon as possible.
When the crack happens, you should immediately cover it with tape. Take clear plastic tape and cover the chip until you can go to the repair shop. Taping the crack is only temporary, so make sure to visit the repair shop quickly.
Also, avoid washing your car with a pressure washer to delay the spreading. Instead, learn some tips on keeping your car clean without washing it.
Professional technicians may fix some minor windshield cracks. Even DIY products may help you fix the glass, but I don’t recommend doing that if you’re not experienced in DIY projects. I suggest you always seek a professional who knows exactly what to do.
Usually, experts can fix small cracks in less than 30 minutes. However, they can only be fixed if:
- The crack isn’t directly in the driver’s line of sight
- If the impact point is more than 3 cm from the windshield border
- The chip isn’t in the ceramic strip
- The crack is smaller than 30mm (approx. the size of a toonie)
It would be best if you fixed all windshield cracks as soon as possible. That way, they won’t spread all over the glass, and you’ll save a lot of money in the end.
For instance, fixing the chip on the windshield may cost you ca. $60-$100, while replacing the windshield costs anywhere from $250 and above, depending on the type of windshield your car has.
Cracked windshields are a severe problem that should be repaired or replaced as soon as possible. As you can see above, driving with a cracked windshield isn’t very safe, and you should avoid doing that. Chip repairs aren’t expensive, and you shouldn’t risk your safety because of a few bucks.