Driving with a cracked windshield can be unavoidable. Maybe a rock flew off a construction vehicle driving in front of you or a pebble was kicked up from the road. Either way, the damage is done, and now you have to deal with the repair. In the meantime, here’s what you need to know about driving with a cracked windshield.
Sometimes you won’t see the damage at first, but you’ll likely hear the unmistakable sound of something hitting the glass. It’s easier to spot a small chip or crack in the glass when you’re not driving, so if possible, pull off the road to a safe location out of traffic and inspect your windshield. If you don’t see anything from inside, it’s a good idea to check from the outside to make sure you didn’t miss anything.
Small Chips and Cracks
Often what sounds like a horrible impact turns out to have caused only minor damage. A small chip or crack about the size of a quarter is no reason to panic. You may even be able to fix it yourself with a windshield repair kit. Small repairs are easy to complete and don’t require immediate attention before you drive your car. While there’s no need to call off your day’s plans in order to get to a shop, you should have the glass repaired at your earliest convenience.
Large Chips and Cracks
This is where things get tricky and will require the help of a professional. Don’t try to fix these yourself with a kit designed to handle minor damage. The last thing you want is a repair that obscures your vision or compromises the structural integrity of the glass, creating a safety hazard.
When Not to Drive
If the damage to your windshield is significant, then do not drive the vehicle. Damage that looks like a large spiderweb or creates a hole in the glass is especially dangerous and should be repaired immediately. Anything that obscures the driver’s vision or distracts them, even if it’s small, should not be ignored. Also, be aware that a damaged windshield can make reading a head-up display difficult and may interfere with safety sensors mounted inside the car.
If the damage does seem to present a safety hazard, it could be worth checking to see if your insurance will help cover the repair or replacement.
What Happens if You Wait?
Even if the damage is minor, it might not stay that way if you wait. The changes in temperature that your windshield experiences can cause a small chip to become a large crack, and this is especially true in hot weather. Rather than waiting until damage requires a windshield replacement, take quick action to repair it or promptly seek help from a professional for larger repairs.
Check out all the windshield maintenance products available on NAPA Online, or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information about repairing a cracked windshield, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
Nicole Wakelin covers the automotive industry as a freelance journalist for a variety of outlets. Her work includes news pieces, podcasts, radio, written reviews, and video reviews. She can be found in The Boston Globe, CarGurus, BestRide, US News and World Report, and AAA along with lifestyle blogs like Be Car Chic, The Other PTA, and She Buys Cars. She is active on social media with a large following on both Twitter and Instagram and currently serves as Vice President of the New England Motor Press Association.