These cracks are known as stress cracks and can occur because of external factors such as:
- Sudden temperature changes
- Varying temperatures between glass layers
- Exposure to excessive vibrations in the vehicle
- Misalignment of windshield
- Improper scraping techniques that may lead to microscopic cracks. These will develop over time and snap due to stress.
- Hitting potholes too hard.
Stress cracks can’t be predicted. However, that doesn’t mean that there is nothing you can do about it. From parking in the shade to making sure your windshield is installed the right way, everything can contribute towards helping you avoid stress cracks. Generally, you can neither predict nor prevent a stress crack. You usually have no idea when one will occur. In this vein, your auto insurance can often step in to help you pay for the damage. It often will consider the crack an unpreventable accident, thus adding coverage.
Auto insurance can often step in to pay for the damage.
1. Windshield Chips From Improper Ice Removal
ice on frozen windshield
If you park your car outside, then you might find a build-up of ice when you return. You will need to remove this before you start to drive. How you do it can make a world of difference. If you are impatient, then you might start to hack away at the ice with any sharp tool at your disposal. Some use a knife to get rid of stubborn ice. Others might find a shovel to do it. While these might be useful, they could also cause incidental damage to the glass. Chips can develop from the stabbing motion. Get a windshield defrosting spray and an ice scraper instead and use a horizontal motion to avoid damage.
2. Windshield Cracks From Sudden Temperature Change
The contraction of objects due to cold weather can have a profound effect on buildings, power lines, and vehicles. Auto glass will contract in winter even if this will not be obvious to the naked eye. This phenomenon won’t break the windshield by itself. However, bad habits like turning the car heater to max settings should be avoided. Wanting to warm up the interiors right away is understandable. Nobody wants to sit inside a cold car for long. However, this rapid temperature fluctuation will cause the panel to expand from a contracted state. Hairline cracks may appear before too long. Use mild heater settings for gradual temperature change.
3. Bad Visibility From Snow On The Roads
No one likes to drive through snowfall but sometimes you have to do it. The roads have poor visibility when this happens so you will need to be extra careful when driving. You should also have your windshield wipers moving all the time to clean the glass and make it easier to see outside. You might want to use high-quality washer fluid for the best results. Build up a good stock of this because you will need to use it a lot more in winter. If you don’t mind making an upgrade, then you could install special windshield wipers.
Hot Weather & Windshield Damage
cars and windshields in hot sun
Hot weather can be just as bad. Owners should take precautions even in the summer. The science still applies but in reverse due to shifts in environmental conditions. The lessons learned from winter windshield care continue to be useful.
4. Windshield Cracks From Rapid Cooling
Many will park their cars in an open parking lot when shopping for groceries or other doing other errands. The windshield will expand due to hours of exposure to scorching heat. When owners come back, they often crank the air conditioner to the highest setting for relief. This may cool down the interiors but it will also cause the glass to rapidly contract. The result is the same: the development of cracks across the panel. Cool things down slowly to reduce windshield stress.
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5. Broken Car Glass From Frequent Travel
cars driving on freeway depicting affect on car glass
There are more incidents of broken glass in the summer simply because people travel more. They go on road trips and adventures. They visit family and friends that they haven’t seen all year. In the process, they are exposed to more debris on the roads. They are also more likely to be involved in accidents. Any damage sustained should be repaired immediately by a competent auto glass technician.
Temperature can have adverse effects on windshields but owners have the power to prevent them. Even when damage is sustained, professional auto glass technicians are ready to help right away.
6. Loud Noises
Metalheads, we regret to be the bearer of bad news, but loud internal music is also responsible for creating stress cracks. This goes for anyone who has the habit of playing loud music.
Although blasting your radio from inside your car isn’t likely to single-handedly cause damage on its own, the risk is there. This is particularly true if your windscreen has been damaged already, and your loud music acts like the final straw that breaks the camel’s back.
7. Use a Windshield Cover
Something we all likely already have, but may not religiously use. A windshield cover is one of the easiest, fastest solutions to preventing stress cracks in your car. As shaded parking isn’t always available you must remember to use your cover. While you may think you only need this during the summer months, you’re wrong. Even on a cool day, the temperature can be over 20°C hotter inside a car, and the heat up occurs mostly within the first five minutes.
8. Invest in Window Tinting
Investing in window tinting adds strength to your windows by rejecting heat which will prevent your car from overheating, and internal cracks. Whilst tinted windows are an investment, their installation could reduce the need for future repairs due to rapid and extreme temperatures changes that occur with aircon use and weather changes. Depending on the glasses level of protection, tinted window film can block anywhere between 35 to 65 per cent of the suns heat. This also has the added benefit of requiring less fuel consumption used for air conditioning.
Top 10 Reasons Windshields Crack whether a stress or chips
Gravel Roads - Debris from gravel roads as well as gravel itself can fly up and hit your windshield. Keep a safe distance when driving behind other vehicles on gravel surfaces and avoid driving on unpaved roads if at all possible.
Driving Behind Construction Vehicles - Construction vehicles, like gravel roads, often have dirt, debris and other materials in and around their load. It is best to keep a safe distance when driving behind these trucks or switch lanes if you can.
Poor Glass Construction - If your windshield was manufactured with poor quality glass, as some are, even the slightest stressors can cause it to crack. You will need to have the glass replaced with a higher quality material when seeking repairs.
Poor Installation - If your windshield was installed improperly or does not fit the frame of your vehicle, it can become loose and be a serious safety hazard. Accelerating at high speeds on the expressway will cause it to vibrate in the frame, resulting in possible damage. Repositioning or replacement will fix this problem.
Accidents - If you live in an apartment complex or a neighborhood with teens or young children who run and play ball outside, it's likely that a ball or Frisbee may come hurdling toward your vehicle on some unlucky day, causing damage to the windshield, not to mention to the body of your car. Parking in your garage, if possible, is a sound and precautionary solution.
Temperature Changes - Extreme temperatures and sudden fluctuations from hot to cold can cause stress to the glass, resulting in a windshield crack. Be wary of the temperature in your area and use tactics such as slowly warming up your defroster as well as not parking in direct sunlight in order to prevent damage.
Sunlight - Similar to the caveat above, heat causes the outer edges of your auto glass to expand faster than the center of that same glass. This will cause it to crack and require repairs or a full replacement. To avoid this situation, simply park your car out of direct sunlight or in a garage, if possible.
Pressure Changes - Stress cracks occur when pressure fluctuates. This kind of damage can be caused by traveling at extremely high speeds, from objects pushing up against the windshield and the least likely, but still possible, from nearby explosions.
Hail - Hail causes chips and cracks in your front windshield by hitting the glass head-on at high speeds with immense force. Drive slower or pull off the road if it starts to hail to prevent damage.
Debris from Parking Under Trees - Nuts, broken branches and other hard objects can come hurdling toward your windshield if you park under a tree. It may seem like a good idea to park under a tree as it is a shaded area, but this leaves your windshield vulnerable to falling objects. To avoid chips or cracks, consider leaving your car in a parking garage.