When your windshield is damaged, the first thing you need to do is determine if you can keep driving with your damaged windshield or if you need to park your vehicle until you can get your windshield repaired. The four factors you need to take into consideration are the size of the crack, the position of the crack, the extent of the damage, and if the crack is spreading.
Factor #1: The Size of the Crack
One of the most important factors is the size of the crack. If the crack is small, and hard to even notice on your windshield, you can continue to drive with a cracked windshield.
If the crack is big and spread out over several inches, it may actually be against the law in your state to continue to drive with a cracked windshield. A large, expansive crack can impede your view, and get you a ticket if a cop notices you driving around with a large crack in your windshield.
Factor #2: The Position of the Crack
Next, the position of the crack matters. If the crack is on the passenger side of the windshield, you can probably get away with driving for a while before you get the crack fixed, as it doesn't impact view of the road, although it may impact your view of the road when switching lanes.
If the crack is on the driver's side, you should get it fixed right away. Even a small crack, in the driver's view, can impair one's vision. Yes, you may be able to see around the crack, but the crack can refract light and interfere with your vision and your safety on the road.
Factor #3: Extent of the Damage
The damage done to your windshield by a crack can vary greatly. A crack that looks more like someone gently scratched your windshield is not that deep and not that likely to spread and cause additional damage. A spider crack, with lots of little lines jutting out of it, is more likely to spread than a simpler crack.
The depth of the crack matters as well. A shallow crack is not that big of a deal. A deep crack that goes into your windshield is a bigger deal and puts your windshield at greater structural risk.
Factor #4: An Expanding Crack
If you notice that a crack is growing, then you need to get it fixed. Temperature changes can cause a crack to spread, especially if you go from hot to cold or cold to hot. For example, if you are parking inside of a warm garage and then take your vehicle out into the cold winter air, a crack could easily expand.
Once a crack starts to expand, it is not likely to stop expanding, which is why you need to make sure you take action if the crack expands.
The truth is, if your windshield is damaged at all, you should get it repaired or replaced. Windshield technicians can come to your home or place of work to fix your windshield while you go about your daily business. If a crack is really large, deep, or directly in your line of vision while driving, you should limit your time driving until you can get your windshield fixed.
For more information on driving with a cracked windshield, contact an auto glass expert.