- Car Care & Maintenance
Tips To Keep Your Windshield From Cracking Out
Most of us at one time or another has had the misfortune of getting a rock chip on our vehicle's windshield. And sometimes our circumstances prevent us from having it repaired right away. We think we'll call a windshield repair company in the next few days to get it taken care of, but that is exactly where we make our big mistake. Waiting to make that call is gambling on the fact that the rock chip won't crack out. But as so many of us know from experience, the small rock chip will grow into long unrepairable cracks sooner than you think. Here are some helpful tips that will buy you a little time until you can have that rock chip repaired.
TIP #1 Avoid sudden temperature changes on the glass.
This is probably the absolute most important tip. Rock chips and dings on the windshield crack out due to stress, especially sudden temperature changes. In the summer, when the windshield is hot from being in the sun and you decide it's time to wash the vehicle, it is absolutely imperative that you cool the windshield down slowly, because when you hit that hot glass with cold water from the hose, that extreme sudden temperature change produces a terrible strain on the glass, and in many cases will cause an existing rock chip to rupture and expand out to a length that is unrepairable and dangerous. The result, obviously, would be a total replacement of the windshield which will cost hundreds of dollars plus the down-time and inconvenience. You don't want that to happen just because you sprayed water on your vehicle. Take this precaution and simply park the car in the shade and roll the windows down to let the windshield gradually cool for several minutes before washing the vehicle.
Do not use the air-conditioner on the glass because it will also produce the same strain as if throwing cold water on it. If you must use the air conditioner, vent it toward you or your feet, not up on the windshield. The same is true in wintertime. Do not direct a hot defroster on a frozen windshield, especially if the rock chip is located anywhere near a defroster vent on your dash. Let the defroster warm the windshield slowly as the engine warms slowly. Don't let the engine get warm and then decide to throw the defroster on a frozen windshield because this sudden temperature change shocks the glass and causes a great stress and will crack out an existing rock chip.
TIP #2 Avoid rough driving conditions which might cause the windshield to jar.
Although this may not be entirely avoidable, it is wise to avoid pot-holes in the road and hair-pin turns, or any kind of rough driving conditions that would produce structural strain on the glass. Rough driving conditions can produce a strain on the glass which can ultimately flex the windshield and crack out an existing rock chip. Windshields are made of two pieces of glass which are laminated together with a single plastic layer sandwiched between them to give the windshield strength and stability. Even though they are glued into place on your vehicle with special adhesives, the glass is much more flexible than you might think, which of course is prone to flexing and stressing the damage and causing it to crack out.
TIP #3 Cover the damage with clear tape.
Covering windshield damage such as a rock chip or small crack with clear tape will keep road contaminates such as windshield wiper fluid, rain, dust, oil, bugs, tar, road deicer and general road grime out of the break. Doing so will keep the break clean so that when you do have time to have a windshield repair technician take a look at it, he will be able to do the best job possible. Often times small contaminates in the break reduces the clarity and overall appearance of the repair. The newer (and cleaner) the rock-chip, the better chance it will be a 100% successful repair that you will be happy with. By covering the break with clear tape, the repair technician will know that you care very much about the glass and he will strive to do a perfect job for you. Some technicians will give away clear round patches to their customer's to cover future damage. If you don't have any of these, then use clear tape as an option.
This tip does come with a warning however: Do not do this if you are concerned about moisture in a break (trapped in by the clear tape) and freezing. Freezing moisture inside a break can cause the rock chip to crack out. Clear tape will keep road grime and gunk out, but if there is already moisture present in the break, and freezing is a concern, then skip this tip.
TIP #4 Make sure the damage is not an old repair.
This last tip is not really a tip, but rather a consideration.
Often times when a customer sees (and hears) a rock hitting the windshield, they pull over and investigate the windshield for damage and find a rock chip, unbeknown to them (possibly an old repair that gleams in the sunlight). This is often a case where the customer has purchased a used car and to his or her knowledge has never received a rock chip. To tell if a rock chip has been repaired in the past, simply take a hard, non-marring item such as a coin, preferably a penny because copper is the softest of the coin metals, and very gently tap on the glass where you know there is no chip. Pay very close attention to how this sounds when you tap on the glass. Now tap gently on the rock chip area. If there is a big difference in sound, then that particular rock chip has probably already been repaired and may not be able to be re-repaired. An example of the sound difference between tapping on good glass versus tapping on an old repair would be similar to the sound difference you get if you were to tap on a wooden table top with a coin, then tap on a slab of rubber. In this example, the table top is the good glass (harder and more dense), and the rubber is the old repair. There have even been cases of customer's making an appointment to have a rock chip repaired, only to find out from the technician that upon inspection there was no rock chip, only a blob of tree-sap. But if you have any doubt, by all means call a windshield repair technician. He will have the experience and the tools to properly repair your windshield.