Owning a car is an amazing source of freedom. You can get up and go wherever you want. It’s something we often take for granted, and that becomes painfully apparent when the downside of car ownership rears its head. When things go wrong, it feels like nothing but an expensive, frustrating mess.
That’s true for all car trouble, but there’s something about a damaged windshield that feels especially raw. Maybe it’s the way it all happened. Windshield glass seems to crack or chip at the most inopportune times, and it always feels like it shouldn’t have happened. Despite that, it happens all the time. Knowing the most common causes of windshield damage might help you avoid some problems in the future.
It seems like every winter, the same prank goes around. People tell you to defrost your windshield by pouring hot water on it. This is about the worst idea imaginable. When your glass rapidly goes from cold to hot, the material expands and cracks — or even shatters. The same can happen going from hot to cold (although this is harder to achieve). In the heat of the summer, especially in direct sunlight, your windshield can get very hot. In fact, it can get hot enough to burn your fingers if you touch it. If you rapidly cool it with chilled water, you might induce damage to the glass.
In any case, extreme temperature changes can break glass no matter how strong it is.
It’s pretty obvious, but if you hit a windshield hard enough, it will crack. More often than not, cracks happen when something is kicked up from the road by another vehicle. Gravel and rocks on the road have nicked and cracked countless windshields. For this reason, you want to minimize how often you drive behind other vehicles on gravel roads (or roads under construction). Also, try to minimize the time you spend behind any large truck. If you’re stuck behind one, give it plenty of space.
Car accidents are another obvious factor, but if we’re talking about what breaks windshield glass, we have to include this. Nothing shatters a windshield like the massive forces at play during a vehicular collision. No matter what you hit or how you hit it, colliding with another vehicle can break the glass. Even if it feels like a minor fender bender, there are never any guarantees that a windshield can survive an accident.
It’s unlikely (but not impossible) that sunlight will initiate a crack. But intense sunlight can cause a crack to spread pretty quickly. That’s because sunlight heats the glass and can cause it to expand unevenly. This creates stress in the glass. If there is already a nick, crack, or imperfection, the stress will exacerbate the existing problem.
We’ve already discussed temperature and sunlight. They certainly play into the concept of weather, but we can ignore that for something even simpler. Extreme weather is a major issue. If hail gets big enough, it can ruin many windshields. When that happens, repair providers are usually overrun by the sudden spike in demand, and you might have to wait to get your windshield fixed. Similarly, windy storms can blow tree branches or other debris, and they can hit hard enough to damage the glass.
Last on our list is possibly the most frustrating. Sometimes, it’s really just a manufacturer’s defect that sits at the heart of your problem. If the glass isn’t made up to par, it can crack without encountering any of the rough scenarios listed above. Instead, the imperfections in the material cause it to succumb to normal wear and stress. When this is the case, you’re often better served by a replacement than a repair. If you repair defective glass, you’re likely to have another problem before you know it.
There are plenty of things out there that can damage a windshield. While you can take care to avoid many of them, it won’t always be up to you. There are enough enemies of glass that at least minor damage seems inevitable.
With that in mind, you want to have a reliable resource that can help you whenever your windshield glass is damaged. In Dallas/Fort Worth, that resource is Advanced Auto Glass. We’ve been in this business for years. We can repair and replace windshields. No matter what caused the damage, we can assess it and recommend a course of action. When you decide, we’ll do the work, and you’ll have a functional windshield again in no time.