It’s early. You’re hurriedly scraping your windshield as you hustle to get to work. When, suddenly, you hear it. A soft, slight pop as your scraper gets stuck in a small divot and you find yourself with a cracked windshield.
Or, perhaps you’re driving down the road behind a salt truck and, despite your best efforts to hang back, a rock knocks your windshield leaving behind a nasty crack. Maybe a severe storm pulled debris down onto your hood or brought in some nasty hail, damaging the glass on your car. No matter how it’s damaged, or how badly it’s damaged, a cracked windshield is a serious issue and may be unsafe to drive with. In this article, we’ll answer some of the most common questions we get about windshield damage:
Can I drive with a cracked windshield?
Your windshield is designed to protect the car’s occupants from debris. It’s generally not dangerous to drive with a small crack in the windshield, but the damaged glass should be repaired or replaced as soon as possible.
The good news is that windshields are engineered to hold together. If it shatters in an accident, strong adhesives applied to the glass prevent broken pieces from falling into the car or onto the road. Because the windshield is laminated, the glass shouldn’t separate from the frame or collapse into the car.
Can a cracked windshield shatter?
Most small chips can be repaired. But, one of the most common problems with cracks is their ability to spread. Chips and cracks create weak points in the windshield that will likely spread over time. Moisture, changes in temperature, and flex from the body of the vehicle can all put extra stress on the glass, causing any cracks to get worse the longer you wait to get it fixed.
For this reason, it’s important to avoid pressing on a broken windshield from the interior of the car especially if you’re not going to get it fixes immediately. Because of its concave shape, a crack can severely weaken the structural integrity of the windshield and the glass is likely to continue cracking if pressure is placed on it from the inside.
What happens if I don’t repair my windshield?
We get this one a lot. Small cracks may not seem like a big deal but even minor damage can cause major problems. There are two main reasons why:
Windshields weakened by damage provide less protection.
Windshields are designed to protect passengers and drivers from the extreme impact that causes them to chip, crack or shatter. To provide optimal coverage, they have two layers of glass laminated together. If the outer glass is damaged, the laminate and the inside layer of glass will still hold everything together for a while. But even a small crack compromises the structural integrity of the glass; it’s not an immediate danger, but if the crack is large, or near or touching the edge of the windshield, you should not drive the car as the glass may have to be replaced.
Cracked windshields decrease visibility.
Driving with a broken windshield should also be avoided if the damaged glass ever impairs the vision of the driver. Moisture, dirt and even windshield washer fluid can seep into the sandwich layers of the glass causing discoloration or cloudiness, and further decreasing visibility.
What are the laws around cracked windshields?
Another factor to consider when deciding to drive with a broken windshield are the relative state laws. In Massachusetts, there are legal restrictions on driving with damaged glass related to the size and type of crack:
- No cracks or chips are allowed within the area cleared by windshield wipers.
- Any damage on windshields must not obstruct the driver’s clear view of the road.
- No chips or cracks larger than the size of a quarter are permitted.
Drivers cannot operate vehicles if the windshield has any cracks or discolorations that interferes with their ability to see the road. It’s also illegal to drive with shattered glass or glass that has sharp edges exposed.
At V&F, we strive to provide our customers with a well-rounded knowledge of all things automotive. Since 1988, our family-owned and operated service center has been providing top-quality auto repair services to Agawam, Feeding Hills, Southwick, West Springfield and the surrounding Massachusetts communities. If you’re in need of windshield repair or replacement, call us at (413)314-2280 or schedule an appointment online.