Perhaps you’re driving behind a quarry load 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 down some nasty hail, damaging the glass on your car. No matter how it’s damaged, any cracks on your windshield will require windshield repair or replacement.
In the summer months, it can be tempting to leave your cracked windshield alone, waiting for a more convenient time to get it fixed. With sunny warm weather and no need to scrape the glass, it might seem like you can buy yourself some extra time. But that’s not the case. In this article, we’ll answer some of your most common questions about windshield damage:
Can I drive with a cracked windshield?
Windshields are designed to protect passengers and drivers from extreme impact and debris—the same forces that might cause them to chip, crack or shatter over time. To provide optimal coverage, modern windshields are designed to hold together even when cracked. They have two layers of glass laminated together so that, even if one layer is damaged, the laminate and the other layer of glass will still hold everything together for a while.
That said, 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 the edge of the windshield, you should not drive the car as the glass may have to be replaced. The glass may not separate from the frame or collapse into the car but cracks can grow quickly and unexpectedly.
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. In humid summer weather, this can be especially problematic.
For this reason, it’s important to avoid pressing on a broken windshield from the interior of the car and make every effort to get it fixed 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. Cracked windshields also decrease visibility. 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 interfere with their ability to see the road. It’s also illegal to drive with shattered glass or glass that has sharp edges exposed.
If you’re in need of windshield repair, we can help. 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.