As a car owner and driver, there are many factors outside of your control. From fender benders to a dented door from a runaway shopping cart in a parking lot, car ownership can be an incredibly stressful endeavor. However, if you put in the effort and nurture your car, it will return the favor tenfold and provide you with years of worry-free bliss (almost like life’s best relationships!).
One of the most common car ailments in the United States is a cracked or chipped windshield. Something that starts as the smallest crack can turn much worse over time and end up costing insurance policyholders a ton of money. Did you know that the most frequent vehicle claim submitted to insurance companies is glass damage, at the rate of 7.5 million incidents per year? Additionally, 80 percent of those claims are windshield damage versus side or back glass. All it takes is one small chip in your windshield to lead to total disaster.
The first step in any health endeavor, including the health of your car, is prevention. Preventative car maintenance is akin to preventative medicine. You try and get a flu shot every year, so why not pay the same attention to the health of your car? Take a proactive step and follow our best tips for preventing windshield cracks and chips.
5 Tips for Preventing Windshield Cracks:
1. Take the road less traveled. Your likelihood of getting a chip or crack while traveling on a highly trafficked highway or freeway is much higher due to the dirt and debris being kicked up by other vehicles. Personally, I’ve had two chips and cracks in the windshield of my current car and both occurred while driving on the highway. If you have the time, try to take a less trafficked route to minimize your chances of your windshield getting damaged by an errant high-velocity pebble!
2. Keep your distance. If you do have to travel on the highway (sometimes there’s no way around it!), be sure to give yourself plenty of distance between you and the vehicle in front of you – especially if it’s a large semi or dump truck. Four wheels have a higher likelihood of kicking up debris; many large wheels not only kick up more rocks and debris, but throw them further, too. Also, don’t rely on mudflaps to protect you from harm. Even though it is a requirement for large trucks to have them, not all do – and sometimes the mudflaps the trucks do have are ripped or torn.
3. Take it slow. While it’s obvious that windshield damage occurs when rock or debris hits your windshield, it is actually the forward motion of the car that hits the rock that causes the impact. In addition to keeping your distance behind large vehicles that spin up debris, taking it slow will reduce the chances of a flying rock doing some serious damage to your windshield.
4. Avoid gravel. This tip may seem like a no-brainer, but hitting a patch of gravel can happen to the best of us. If you live in a cold and snowy climate, take care to notice when the gravel trucks come out before a big storm and proceed with caution. Don’t follow a truck that is throwing down gravel and salt on the roads – try to take a detour if you can!
5. Made in the shade. A scorching hot day can only exacerbate weakened or brittle places in windshield glass. If you think you have a weak spot or potential crack starting to form in your windshield, try parking in the shade. The cooler temps will keep potential cracks from expanding and protect your windshield from further damage.
So, let’s say you’ve managed to follow all these tips and you still get a crack or chip – it can happen to anyone! When you’ve done all you can and you can’t manage to stop it from happening, here are some tips to help keep it from spreading.
5 Tips for What To Do When You Can’t Stop It From Happening:
1. Assess the situation. Is the crack small or large? In your line of sight and obstructing your view? If a crack at all interferes with your ability to safely operate your vehicle, tend to the damage right away by taking your car to a repair shop – or better still, call for roadside assistance (which segues nicely into my next point…)
2. Switch to Metromile. One of the many benefits of switching your car insurance to Metromile is the 24/7 roadside assistance service we provide, which covers windshield and glass repair. If you happen to find yourself in a situation where your windshield is cracked and needs immediate repair, just know that Metromile will be there to help you every step of the way!
3. Smooth sailing. If you’ve assessed the damage and the crack is smaller than a dollar bill (or the chip is smaller than a quarter) and is not obstructing your view, the integrity of the windshield hasn’t been compromised and probably does not require replacement . However, take it easy on bumpy roads, speed bumps, and even opening and closing your car doors and trunk. Any additional vibrations to the car may cause the windshield crack to spread.
4. Avoid extremes. Subjecting your cracked or chipped windshield to extreme temperature fluctuations will cause the glass to expand and contract, potentially turning even the smallest crack into a giant issue. Keep your defroster or air conditioner at a moderate temperature instead of blasting hot or cold air onto the windshield problem area.
5. Hire a professional. Many windshield repair shops will have a technician come to you who can fix the crack or chip on the spot and in under 30 minutes. Contact your insurance company to find out what kinds of repairs are covered under your policy, and they should have you on your way in no time!
Windshield cracks and chips are dangerous and can lead to much more serious problems if not addressed right away. If you follow our suggestions for crack and chip prevention and yet still manage to get one (it happens!), always assess the situation and know your options for repair. Better yet, contact Metromile to learn more about their windshield repair policy and to get a quote today!
Julianne Cronin is a Bay Area freelance writer, content creator, and founder/editor of the women’s lifestyle site, The Wink. You can find her working on her capsule wardrobe, collecting cacti, and trying out the latest beauty products on Instagram.