The Risks of Damaged Windshields and How to Solve Them
Your windshield is probably something you take for granted in your car. It’s sort of just there, and when it does its job properly, you can easily forget that it’s more than just a fancy piece of glass.
In reality, it’s one of the most crucial pieces of safety equipment your vehicle has. As such, letting minor, hardly noticeable windscreen damage go unfixed can produce life-threatening situations.
So, before you find yourself in a serious situation, let’s identify the common forms of damage, the risks they produce, and how you can resolve them.
The Most Common Forms of Damage
You typically won’t find yourself driving down the highway before your windshield suddenly shatters. They’re designed not to do that except in extreme cases.
Instead, damage first starts appearing in very minor, easy-to-dismiss forms as listed here:
- Chips: These are some of the least noticeable forms of damage. This occurs when a small object gets flung into your windshield, but instead of causing it to break or burying itself in the glass, it knocks a small chip out of it.
- Small cracks: Small cracks are more noticeable, and they’ll usually take the form of a dime-sized web pattern. An object might be lodged in the glass, or it might not be.
- Large cracks: These are far more severe and immediately noticeable. It usually takes a hefty impact, but this type of damage can occur due to larger flying objects or the neglect of smaller issues.
The Risks of Ignoring Damage
If you don’t have an expensive car that you want to keep in pristine condition, it might be tempting to ignore smaller forms of damage. After all, a tiny “spider web” or chip doesn’t obstruct your vision or allow debris and wind to enter your vehicle.
However, it’s important not to take the easy route. Small forms of damage can quickly turn into a fully destroyed windshield, and that produces several problems.
Obscured vision: If a relatively minor crack sustains more damage mid-drive, the crack can grow exponentially and fully obscure your vision; leading to potentially life-threatening wrecks and collisions.
- Improper protection: In an accident, your windshield is designed to turn into one big “spider web”. A protective film keeps all the tiny pieces of glass from shattering all over the place, and it can still prevent objects from penetrating it in most cases. Unfortunately, previous damage to a windshield makes it weaker than it should be when major accidents occur; thus, the windshield will be less likely to perform properly when it truly needs to.
- Higher risk of replacement: Outside of physical risks, you risk a higher repair cost. Let’s say you have a minor crack that can be replaced cheaply if caught in time. One stray pebble or even a falling tree branch that would have done minimal damage will likely force a replacement due to the weakened state of the windshield. In essence, it’s a lot cheaper to get a minor problem fixed than it is to replace it when it’s a much bigger problem.
How to Get Your Windshield Fixed
While you may be tempted, it is not advisable to perform a DIY windshield fix. Your windshield is far more complex than just a piece of glass, and an improper repair can do more bad than good. Instead, hire a professional windscreen repair service.
Now, here are the solutions, climbing in price, for each type of damage:
- Chips: Minor chips are the easiest to repair. A repair technician can use a specialized glass-repair formula to fill the chip and blend it in with the rest of the windshield. This returns the windshield’s structural integrity, can be performed on-location and is a fairly cheap job.
- Small cracks: There are different laws about what can legally be repaired which changes between countries and states. Essentially anything under a certain size can be repaired. This is a little more costly than repairing a minor chip, but it’s a pressing issue that needs to be handled immediately.
- Large cracks and full breaks: If your windshield’s crack has grown too large to legally be repaired, your only option is a full replacement. This is the most expensive form of repair, and it’s often avoidable with a repair when the damage was minor. It is dangerous to drive with any windshield damage, but a car with larger cracks, or a fully shattered windshield should never be driven. Instead, pull over immediately and call an on-location repair service or tow truck.