Chipped windscreens may seem like an insignificant issue but you’ll be surprised at how dangerous they can be if you don’t get them fixed, especially when you’re using your car every day. Before you ignore a cracked windscreen altogether, be sure to read this article first so that you can be aware of the rules as well as the risks of driving a car with a chipped windscreen.
Causes of Windscreen Cracks
If your windscreen has cracks or chips it can be annoying and frustrating to look at but why and when does it happen? It’s actually quite common for windscreens to crack and chip, and there are different reasons why this occurs. Here are some of the common causes.
Maybe you’ve had your windscreen replaced before but now, you’re seeing cracks in it. It might be because the materials used weren’t very good, or the replacement wasn’t installed by a skilled technician, or it simply wasn’t fitted properly.
With poor quality materials and improper fitting, the windscreen won’t be able to handle the pressure that it’s supposed to withstand. Apart from the glass itself, the frame should also be strong enough to support the windscreen plus the pressure that it receives.
In any case, it would be so easy for the windscreen to crack. And with a combination of all these factors, it might even shatter. A windscreen may shatter any time without warning. It would be dangerous for you and your passengers if this were to happen while you’re driving at high speed.
Temperature and Weather
If your vehicle is subjected to harsh weather conditions like storms, ice or strong winds, the pressure on the windscreen, if it has existing cracks or chips, can cause it to break or shatter.
On the other hand, direct sunlight may also damage your windscreen. Imagine pouring boiling water on it to remove the ice (never a good idea!) or blasting the air conditioning while your car has been sitting under the sun for a long time. These extreme changes in temperature are really bad for your windscreen. One side expands while the other contracts, resulting in stress and tension which cause cracks on your windscreen.
Road debris is almost unavoidable. At some point in your driving, pebbles and small rocks will hit your windscreen. It may seem insignificant because they’re small but keep in mind that they move towards your vehicle at high speeds. These can cause small chips and often you know about it as they can be really loud! If your windscreen is already chipped, then it’s possible that if debris hits near the already weakened spot, the glass can shatter altogether.
Other than rocks and stones, you should also be careful about tailgating vehicles with loaded items. You could never be sure if those items are secure. If they ever fall and you’re too close to the vehicle, then they’ll most likely hit your windscreen, damage your car, or even cause a serious accident.
And always heed the warning signs "loose chippings" and their speed limit recommendation on newly surfaced roads- they are there to help you avoid chipping your own or other vehicles.
Can I Still Drive with a Chipped Windscreen?
If your windscreen has a small crack, it might be easy to just ignore it and drive your car as usual. However, if you get caught driving a car with a cracked windscreen and you might have to pay a fine and could get three penalty points on your driver’s licence. It can also be a cause for you to fail your MoT. Any damage on the windscreen that is 10mm or larger is sufficient cause for your car to fail its MoT.
So, the answer to whether you can still drive your car with a chipped windscreen is no. Legally, you’re not allowed to knowingly do so. But beyond the legalities, it’s important to think of your safety as well as that of your passengers and even other road users. It’s not worth taking the risk rather than getting your windscreen replaced.
Windscreens Provide Protection
Another reason for you to be concerned about a damaged windscreen, is that in the event of an accident, windscreens have a crucial role. When the airbag is deployed, it moves upward and then bounces off of your windscreen. This happens so that your head won’t go into the glass. However, if the windscreen has been weakened by cracks, it won’t be strong enough to receive the impact from the airbag. The glass will shatter and there won’t be any protection for you and your passengers during a crash.
During a collision where a car rolls over, the roof won’t cave in if the windscreen is strong. But with a cracked one, then the glass will break and it’s more likely that the roof will cave in. It will be a lot more dangerous for the passengers of the vehicle if this happens.
As mentioned previously, don’t drive a car with a cracked windscreen. No matter how small the crack is, it’s just not worth endangering your life and the life of other road users. Take your car to a trusted garage with highly trained technicians who can provide the best quality materials and proper fitting for the new windscreen. Some mobile companies will also now come out to repair it whilst you're at work or home.
As soon as you notice cracks on your windscreen, get it replaced. There are instances where the windscreen can still be repaired. The technicians do this by filling the glass with resin. However, this only works if the crack has a size of 10mm or smaller. If it’s bigger, you’re going to need a replacement.
Before you worry about the expenses, check with your insurance provider if windscreen replacements are covered as they often are. If they are, then the insurer will take care of it. In case of any excesses, it will be a small amount compared to paying for everything out of your pocket.
Keep in mind the cost of repairing or replacing the windscreen is something you can earn back. If you continue to drive with a chipped windscreen, then you may encounter accidents that may result in catastrophic consequences. So, do check your windscreen regularly to ensure that you and your passengers are safe whilst on the road. 👍😊