Can Winter Weather Break Your Windshield?

With winter right around the corner, you might be feeling a little nervous about the state of your car. Maybe your battery’s on its last legs, or your tires are a little flat, or your windshield wipers have seen better days. Maybe your windshield has a small chip or crack. Or maybe your car’s just fine, but you want to make sure it stays that way.

As you prepare your car for winter—checking your battery, replacing your fluids, and inflating your tires—don’t forget your windshield. Your windshield can take a beating during the winter, leaving you with a chip or crack.

Keep reading to find out how winter weather affects your windshield and what you can do to protect it.

What Causes Chips or Cracks in Winter?

In addition to the usual culprits that can happen any time of year (debris, rock chips, stray baseballs, etc.), the weather itself can cause cracks.

Glass is actually very sensitive to temperature. Although you can’t see it, glass contracts in the cold and expands in the heat. This means that extreme temperatures—and particularly large swings in temperature—can be hard on glass. (In a previous post, we talk about how the summer sun can crack your windshield.)

While extreme cold by itself is unlikely to crack a windshield, cracks are common in winter thanks to a number of contributing factors, like improper installation, unnoticed damage, poor maintenance, and windshield-clearing mistakes. Let’s take a closer look each of these.

  • Improper installation: A properly installed windshield in good condition shouldn’t crack from extreme cold alone; however an improperly installed one will be vulnerable to damage. That’s because a poor installation will put stress on the glass, making it vulnerable to—you guessed it—stress cracks. (Unfortunately, it’s hard to know whether or not your windshield was installed properly in the first place—but if you ever need a windshield replacement, it’s a good idea to hire a trusted auto glass company.)
  • Unnoticed damage: A chipped or cracked windshield—regardless of the size of the damage—is a compromised windshield. In winter, chips and cracks will fill with moisture from snow and ice. Condensation will eventually cause to chip or crack to grow, as the condensation freezes and expands.
  • Poor maintenance: Your windshield wipers get a lot of use in the winter. When was the last time you replaced them? If they’re worn down, with little to no rubber covering the plastic and metal, your wiper blades are scratching your windshield. This can lead to serious cracks down the road.
  • Windshield-clearing mistakes: There are two big mistakes that car owners make when clearing windshields: blasting the defroster and resorting to hot water to clear ice off the windshield. Both of these techniques cause the temperature of the glass to change quickly (not good, as we mentioned above). The stress of this can cause your windshield to crack.

How to Protect Your Windshield This Winter

You can’t control the weather, but that doesn’t mean your windshield is doomed to winter-related damage. You can take steps to protect your windshield. We recommend doing the following:

  • Replace your windshield wipers before winter weather hits. Keep them in good shape by cleaning the rubber.
  • Turn your defroster and heater up slowly. You may want to heat up your car ASAP (we get it: it’s cold!), but this can cause stress on your windshield. Instead, heat up your car gradually.
  • Clear off ice with cold water. Never use hot water to quickly clear ice off your windshield: this is a recipe for disaster! Instead, use cold water, which will help melt the ice without putting unnecessary stress on the glass. Then, use a plastic (not metal!) ice scraper to finish the job.
  • Check your windshield for damage regularly. It’s easy to miss a chip or crack under all that snow and ice. Make sure you check your windshield for damage throughout the winter. This will help you catch any problems and fix them they get worse. (Ignore them and you may end up needing a windshield replacement!)

Damaged Windshield? Call Us!

If you find a chip or crack in your windshield, don’t wait to repair it: call Jack’s Glass to get your windshield repaired today.

We make windshield repair and replacement easy, by coming to you wherever you are. Our highly trained and certified technicians will get the job done right and get you back on the road ASAP.

Call us today to get a free quote or to talk about mobile glass repair.