A chip or crack in a windshield is bad news: it can obstruct your vision, weaken your windshield, and reduce the safety of your car.
No one wants to walk out to his or her car and find a crack in the windshield. But is there a way to prevent cracks? What causes them in the first place? And can they be repaired?
Find out the most common causes of windshield chips and cracks and what you can do to prevent or fix them from the auto glass experts at Jack’s Glass.
#1 ROAD DEBRIS
When you drive down the road, the tires on your car will often spin loose gravel, small rocks, and other road debris into the air, which can hit your car. Unfortunately, it isn’t just your tires you have to worry about. The tires of other motorists also throw debris that can hit your car.
Airborne gravel and stones causes chips in the windshield. A chip is a small piece of glass that has come off of the windshield. If this chip isn’t repaired quickly, it will almost always turn into a larger crack. This is because the glass around the chip has been weakened and is more susceptible to cracking.
You can prevent chips caused by road debris by avoiding gravel roads (when possible) and slowing down in construction zones. You can also prevent them by keeping a large distance between your car and the vehicle in front of you—especially if that vehicle is a semi-truck, which can kick up a lot of debris.
#2 MOTHER NATURE
Mother Nature is not kind to vehicles. There are a number of weather phenomena that can damage your windshield.
Hail, if large enough, can cause chips just like those caused by gravel and stones. Storms, high winds, and of course tornadoes can send tree limbs, rocks, and other debris into your windshield, causing chips or outright cracks.
Even sunlight can cause cracks: extended exposure to sunlight can cause the seal holding the windshield in place to heat up significantly. The temperature difference between the edges and the center of the windshield can weaken the glass and make it more prone to cracks.
To prevent chips and cracks caused by Mother Nature, try to park inside as much as possible—particularly during Ohio and Kentucky’s storm and tornado season (around April through July). If you can’t always park inside, you can at least prevent some stress caused by sunlight by parking in the shade.
#3 TEMPERATURE CHANGES AND STRESS
Changes in temperature can actually cause glass to “move.” When heated, glass expands, and when cooled, it contracts. If the temperature of the glass changes too rapidly or too frequently, the continual movement can stress the glass and cause it to weaken. This can happen if you blast the heat on a cold day or the air conditioning on a hot day. It can also happen if you use warm or hot water to melt the ice on your windshield. While sudden temperature changes generally won’t cause the glass to instantly crack, it will make cracks more likely over time.
You can help avoid these types of cracks by controlling your car’s temperature. Try to start your heat or A/C on a low setting and allow your car to gradually warm up or cool down. Park in a garage when possible to protect your car from the temperatures outside. Finally, never use warm or hot water to melt windshield ice; ice should be removed with an ice scraper. Similarly, don’t ever wash your car with extremely cold water on a hot day.
Other causes of windshield cracks and windshield chips include:
- Old windshield wiper blades – Learn more in Don’t Wait to Replace Your Windshield Wiper Blades!
- Accidents (such as with another vehicle)
- Poor installation – Learn more about how a bad windshield installation or repair job can put you in danger
We recommend inspecting your windshield often for chips and cracks. You want to catch a chip or crack early and get it repaired, if possible, as soon as you can. This repair is one that should never be put off: the longer you leave a chip or crack, the farther it will spread across your windshield. Eventually, even the smallest chip can result in a crack that requires replacing your entire windshield.
To find out if a chip or crack can be repaired, it’s best to see a professional.
At Jack’s Glass, we have provided top-quality glass solutions for more than 70 years. We’re the experts in windshield repair and replacement, providing factory original (or better) auto glass. Our service is also extremely convenient: we offer on-site installation and work with your insurance company to help save you money on your deductible.
Have more questions about getting your windshield replaced? Get answers by checking out:
- FAQs: Windshield Replacement and Car Insurance
- Can You Drive with a New Windshield and Other Windshield FAQs
If you’ve found a chip or crack on your windshield, contact Jack’s Glass today!