This is a question we hear a lot in the auto glass business. The answer won't surprise you, but the reason may.
Spending money to repair unexpected damages like a broken windshield, door glass, or mirror is never fun. We all work hard for our money and want to keep it in our pockets as long as we can. But auto glass, much like most other automotive repairs and maintenance, is one area you don't want to cut corners in.
Your windshield does a lot more than keep bugs out of your eye while you're driving. It's a crucial part of the safety and structural integrity of your vehicle. The glass helps solidify the front end of your vehicle and, in cases of severe collisions, keep you inside that vehicle. It also allows the passenger side airbag to deploy properly. Unlike the drivers airbag, which typically deploys straight out, the passenger side relies on the windshield for support and direction.
When you get a crack in your windshield, the structural integrity is weakened. What does this mean? If you were in a collision, and were thrust toward the windshield, there is a greater likelihood of you being thrown through that windshield. The same applies for objects coming at your vehicle from the outside. This also means there is a greater chance of damage were the passenger airbag to deploy.
Don't panic! Your windshield isn't just going to fall out or shatter. Unlike the rest of the glass in your vehicle (we will explain in a later post), your windshield is a laminated part. This means that there are actually two pieces of glass, bonded with a layer of polyvinyl butyral (PVB) sandwiched in between. This increases the strength of the glass and holds everything together.
What typically happens is the cracks continue to grow and spider until they reach the edge of the glass. The longer and more plentiful the cracks, the weaker and weaker the glass becomes. Once these cracks reach the edge of the glass, they won't go any further. This is where most people pose their question: Can I wait? It's not getting any bigger, so why bother?
While they are correct in the fact it is not getting any bigger, the damage has been done. It is never advisable to put off replacing a damaged windshield. If you do, however, have a period of time before you're able to schedule an appointment, there are some things you can do to slow the cracking and keep yourself safer.
1. Drive safely and alertly. This is obvious, and should be first and foremost every time you enter a vehicle, but it especially applies when you are driving with a broken windshield.
2. Avoid bumps. The bumpier the ride, the more force and pressure it puts on the vehicle. This causes stress on the glass and can quicken the spread of cracks.
3. Avoid carwashes and drastic temperature changes. The pressure from the carwash sprays and brushes can cause the glass to crack. Drastic temperature changes will do the same. Try gradually heating or cooling your vehicle to get to the desired temperature.
Again, it is always advisable to replace your broken or damaged windshield immediately. Don't wait. Keep yourself, your friends, and your family safe. If you have any questions or concerns, never hesitate to call and speak with a professional. We are always happy to help!
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J Royce Auto Glass