What You Need to Know about Cracked Windshields

What You Need to Know about Cracked Windshields

When it comes to vehicles, there are few things more annoying than having a cracked windshield. It's inconvenient, while not necessarily affecting your car's performance. It is unsightly but not necessarily the cause for an immediate, emergency trip to the body shop. It can seem like an expensive repair without any measurable change to how your car handles. 

Many drivers have questions about when and how to have their windshields repaired or replaced. Here is what you need to know about windshield repair and replacement. 


The Purpose of Your Windshield

Can you imagine driving the open roads of western North Carolina without a windshield? That might have been your reality in the early 20th century. By 1904, however, automobile manufacturers began to realize drivers wanted and needed protection from the elements. Early windshields were not as durable and prone to being shattered, which posed a safety risk to drivers. 

Today, windshields can withstand road hazards much more effectively. They are typically made from laminated safety glass. 

Laminated safety glass consists of two pieces of curved glass with a sheet of clear plastic between them. This prevents punctures and, for the most part, shattering. 

How Your Windshield Gets Damaged

If you drive much in western North Carolina, your windshield is susceptible to being damaged by a number of hazards, including:

  • Dirt Roads: Many roads in our area remain unpaved. All that gravel on your mountain Avenue gets kicked around while you and your neighbors are driving.
  • Rocks on the Highway: Sometimes, you don't even see it coming; you just hear the disconcerting sound of a rock bouncing off your windshield, seemingly out of nowhere. Rocks can get kicked up hundreds of yards ahead before you end up hitting it. 
  • Tractor Trailers and Dump Trucks: Vehicles with large tires like tractor-trailers are even more likely to send debris your way. Sometimes, it is their load that ends up being the problem. 
  • Hail and Wind: We are susceptible to all kinds of weather here in the Asheville area. Large hail and falling tree limbs can easily crack your windshield. You do not even have to be driving to experience the misfortune, including dents and dings to your vehicle.
  • Neighborhood Kids and Parking Lots: Other hazards to your windshield for which your vehicle does not have to be moving include: rogue toys, shopping carts, flying baseballs, and much more. 

Many times, your windshield damage will begin as a tiny chip. It can be so minuscule you hardly even notice it at first. However, there is a good chance that the chip will introduce cracks that expand. The cracks may grow slowly and gradually over time, or it may seem like they stretch out all at once. 

You may see the crack growing after driving on a twisty or bumpy road. It may be that you started your day in the valley, drove to a ski resort like Wolf Laurel (where the temperature is much colder) and found that after your day of skiing, the crack grew substantially. 

Movement, bumps, temperature, and pressure changes can all expand your windshield damage. 

When to Repair/When to Replace Your Windshield

You don't really have to worry about a tiny chip in your windshield, right? As we discussed above, even the most insignificant damage can become significant in a relatively short amount of time. 

In fact, if the chip is smaller than a quarter (about 1 inch in diameter), it can likely be repaired without replacement. Similarly, if a crack is shorter than 12-inches, it can potentially be repaired. 

The problem is that chips and cracks can quickly grow beyond what is repairable. You may drive to work with an insignificant crack but end up with a giant, unsightly line across your entire windshield by the time you hop in the car for your evening commute. 

There are other potential problems you can encounter driving with a cracked windshield:

  • Your windshield is designed to be as safe as possible. If cracked or chip, there is no doubt its integrity is at least somewhat compromised. 
  • Your windshield is how you see the world. If it is damaged, your visibility is impacted. 
  • Your windshield must meet certain requirements to pass vehicle safety inspections. In North Carolina, if your windshield damage obstructs your view or there is any doubt about its integrity, your vehicle will fail its inspection. 
  • Your windshield looks terrible when it's cracked or chipped. This impacts its value. 

When should you repair windshield damage? The answer is as soon as possible. It is wise to have it repaired as soon as possible; however, there is no better time to fix it than the present. For more information about having your windshield repaired or replaced, contact the expert team at First Aid Collision in Asheville, NC