Spring is here and that means unpredictable weather and severe storms. Hail poses a particular danger for car owners as it can shatter windshields. Whether damaged by an accident, rock, hail or something else, a cracked windshield can make a car unsafe to drive.
Can a car be driven with a cracked windshield?
It’s generally not dangerous to drive with a small crack in the windshield, but damaged glass should be repaired or replaced as soon as possible for two important reasons:
- Windshields weakened by damage provide less protection.
- Cracked windshields decrease visibility.
Windshields are specially designed to ensure the safety of passengers and drivers even if extreme impact causes them to chip, crack or shatter. They have two layers of glass laminated together. If one layer of glass breaks, the laminate and the inside layer of glass hold the windshield together, keeping pieces of glass from injuring occupants of the car or falling on the road.
This doesn’t mean that you should ignore a damaged windshield, however. Even a small crack signifies that the structural integrity of the glass has been compromised. Though not an immediate danger, if the crack is large, near or touching the edge of the windshield, the glass may have to be replaced and driving the car is not recommended.
Driving with a broken windshield should also be avoided whenever the damaged glass impairs the vision of the driver. With time, as moisture, dirt and even windshield washer fluid can seep into the glass sandwich layers causing discoloration and further decreasing visibility.
Another factor to consider when deciding to drive with a broken windshield, call for onsite repair or have the car towed, are the relative state laws. To ensure the safety of everyone on the roads, it is illegal to drive with shattered glass or glass that has sharp edges exposed. Drivers cannot operate vehicles if the windshield has any crack or discoloration that obstructs or interferes with their ability to see clearly.
Can Windshield Glass Shatter?
Most small chips can be repaired, One of the problems with cracks in the glass is that they spread.
In the case of windshields, chips and cracks create weak points in the glass that will likely spread due to a few factors – going over bumps on the road, changes in temperature that cause the glass to expand and contract all put stress on the glass. This additional stress causes the glass to shatter and the condition of the windshield will continue to get worse the longer you wait to get it fixed.
The good news is that windshields are engineered to hold together. Because the windshield is laminated, the glass shouldn’t separate from the frame or collapse into the car.
What Should I Do with a Cracked Windshield?
A shattered windshield must be replaced; large cracks or those that continue to spread will also likely require the glass to be substituted entirely. If your windshield has been damaged, contact your trusted car glass repair service to come up with the best solution to get you back on the road.
How Can I Avoid Hail Damage?
The months of May through September are peak season for hail when warmer weather brings thunderstorms, often including high winds and hail. Whenever possible, park your car in the garage. If severe weather strikes while driving, carefully pull into a gas station or under an overpass for protection until the hail storm has passed.
If you have a cracked windshield, call Affordable Auto Glass and talk to one of our certified technicians to go over the best option for you.