Windshield cracks can happen at a moment’s notice, and through no fault of your own. While you may be tempted to brush a small crack off as no big deal or dismiss it as a purely cosmetic problem, the reality is that minor windshield damage poses major safety hazards. Cracks – even small ones – need to be repaired promptly, since there’s no telling when their hidden dangers might put you and your passengers in jeopardy.
Why It’s a Bad Idea to Drive with Cracks in Your Windshield
Failing to repair cracks in your windshield is risky business. Here’s a rundown of the risks involved:
- Cracks in your windshield could stop your airbags from deploying properly. The mechanics of airbag deployment rely on an intact windshield, and if yours is cracked, the airbag could open outwards instead of inwards…and that could have dire consequences.
- In the event of a roll-over accident, a cracked windshield could lead to your car’s roof giving in when it otherwise would have held up. Such an event would result in a good deal of the vehicle’s weight collapsing in on the passenger seating area, potentially causing serious injury or worse.
- When you’re driving, your vision could be significantly impaired by a cracked windshield. Cracks can be particularly problematic at night, when the glare of oncoming headlights can flare through the crack, putting the driver and everyone else in the vehicle at risk.
How Windshields Protect Your Vehicle’s Structural Integrity
Beyond helping your airbags deploy properly and giving your roof a structural boost in the event of a roll-over collision, windshields work to maintain your vehicle’s integrity in other important ways:
- The windshield provides a vitally important protective barrier in the event of a front-impact collision
- Structurally sound windshields protect the rigidity of your vehicle’s body, which boosts handling and performance
- Windshields help create “sway” when cornering, helping you maintain better control over the vehicle
Windshield cracks are points of weakness that need to be addressed. Fortunately, they can be repaired in some cases, helping you save some money off the cost of a full replacement.
Repairing vs. Replacing Your Windshield
To determine whether or not the crack in your windshield can be repaired, you should consult an experienced carmotive technician, preferably a glass specialist. Three main factors need to be evaluated:
- The size of the crack (including both length and depth)
- The location of the crack
- The shape of the crack
While no two situations are exactly alike, there are some situations in which repairing the crack is generally not an option. These include:
- Cracks on the inside of the windshield, and cracks affecting both sides of the glass
- Cracks affecting the driver’s immediate range of view
- Cracks more than 18 inches in length
- Cracks with multiple branches
- Cracks that reach the edge of the windshield
While you’re free to collect multiple opinions, you should always follow the technician’s advice and instructions regarding windshield replacement.
Do You Need Glass Coverage?
Glass protection is typically included, at least to a partial degree, in most comprehensive car insurance policies. Insurers will normally cover the full cost a windshield repair after you pay your deductible, and in most cases, you won’t have to pay out of pocket and collect a reimbursement — the car glass shop will just bill your insurance company. It’s up to you to decide whether the cost of the deductible and the claim is worth it.
You do have the option of waiving your glass coverage if it’s included in your policy if you want to reduce your premiums through what’s known as a 13D endorsement. However, if you choose to do so, be aware that you will be on the hook for the full cost of any necessary glass repairs your vehicle may need.
Car insurance professionals generally recommend that you keep your glass coverage intact if it’s part of your policy. However, the decision is yours to make; just be sure to carefully weigh the premium savings against the potential cost of glass damage.
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