Don’t Risk It: Why You Shouldn’t Drive with a Cracked Windshield

It wasn’t long after the first “horseless carriage” was invented that drivers realized they’d like some protection from flying rocks and debris: goggles just weren’t going to cut it.

Thus, the windshield was born.

Early windshields were made from the same material that is used to make windows. As you can imagine, they weren’t very sturdy. Drivers were seriously injured or killed when car accidents caused the windshield to break and send sharp glass flying. In response, car manufacturers eventually adopted technology to make windshields sturdier and safer.

Windshields As a Safety Feature

Today’s windshields are made with a type of glass wholly different from the glass in your home—and even different from the glass used in the side and back windows of your car. This type of glass is called “laminated glass.” Laminated glass is made from two pieces of glass with a layer of film between them, fused together through heat and pressure. Because the windshield is made of multiple layers, it is much stronger than your average window: it can deal with the strain of strong winds, potholes, and debris. When a rock or other debris hits the windshield, a small chip or crack may form in the outer layer of the windshield—rather than the windshield shattering into a million pieces.

We’d never want to go back to the days of using window glass for windshields—but there is a hidden downside to having windshields that chip instead of smash: it leaves drivers with a false sense of security.

Some drivers—whether because of finances or another reason—put off repairing their windshield. They think there’s no danger, since the windshield looks mostly “fine.” Unfortunately, this isn’t the case.

In addition to protecting you from wind and debris, the windshield of your car has three other critical functions: maintaining the structural integrity of your car’s body, preventing ejection of the car’s passengers, and allowing the passenger airbag to deploy correctly. The first two functions are fairly straight-forward: the windshield of your car keeps the roof from buckling down onto you in the event of a rollover accident, and in the case of a head-on collision, the windshield prevents any unbelted passengers from being thrown from the car and potentially run over. The third function, however, might be a surprise to you. The passenger side airbag, unlike the driver side airbag, does not fly straight at the passenger. It actually deploys upward and bounces off the windshield toward the passenger.

In order to provide proper safety and security, the laminated glass of the windshield has to be strong—really strong. When the glass is chipped and/or cracked, the strength of the windshield is reduced. And the longer a chip or crack is left unrepaired, the more likely it is to spread across the windshield—further weakening the glass and making it more dangerous. Severely cracked windshields may not hold up in a rollover accident, letting the roof buckle into the occupants, or may fail to correctly deploy the airbag—leaving the passenger with no airbag in a head-on crash.

One tiny chip in your windshield doesn’t mean that you have to run out and replace it: many small chips and cracks can be repaired so that your windshield remains in excellent condition. Large chips and cracks, however, do require a replacement.

If you do have a cracked windshield, here’s what to do… and what not to do.

Car accidents happen every day. If an accident happens, you’ll be glad you have a windshield that works properly.

If your windshield has been damaged, contact the Northern Kentucky windshield repair experts at Jack’s Glass. We’ll take a look and let you know if your windshield can be repaired or replaced. We pride ourselves on service and convenience: we offer free quotes and on-site service, and we’ll work directly with your insurer. Call us today.