A chipped or cracked windshield is not only an unsightly blemish on a car, it can be a major safety issue, auto experts say.
Experts say driving with a damaged windshield risks your life and the lives of drivers around you because you are more susceptible to get into an accident.
A damaged windshield — or one that hasn’t been properly set and glued into place — can pop out during a collision. The windshield also provides structural support for the car, meaning an improperly installed windshield could even cause the roof to collapse.
“The windshield is part of the structural integrity of the vehicle, and protects occupants during an accident, especially a rollover accident,” says Mike Delaney, president of highly rated Patriot Auto Glass in Ashburn, Va. “The A-pillars [the frame of the car that runs from the side of the windshield to the back of the car] of vehicles are getting thinner, and the windshield is more a safety feature now than 40 years ago. If a windshield is not replaced properly, it won’t adhere to the vehicle properly.”
Driving with a cracked windshield
Many smaller chips are easily fixable by a reputable auto glass expert. But if the chip is too large, or it expands to the length or width of a credit card, it will likely need to be replaced.
Standard windshields are made of two transparent pieces of glass that are glued to a vinyl resin in the center. The vinyl resin helps keep the glass in place during impact or a collision and stops shards of glass from flying, which can cause serious injury or death.
However, experts say once the vinyl resin, or safety layer, has been cracked or chipped, the windshield is unable to withstand much more impact, and cannot protect as well the driver and passengers. A large crack can also negatively impact your vision and reflect sunlight glare, making it difficult to see.