Cracked windshields can often be fairly expensive to repair and may even require a full replacement. But until you can get the windshield fixed, can you go through a car wash? Let's take a look to see if it's safe.
The answer is generally no; you should not go through a car wash with a cracked windshield. The pressure from a car wash could cause further damage to the windshield and make it harder or even impossible to repair. In worse cases, your windshield could collapse entirely if you go through a car wash with a cracked windshield.
Knowing how to address a cracked windshield before it spreads is the best way to save on repair costs. In this article, we will discuss why you should avoid going through a car wash with a cracked windshield. In addition, we will answer other frequently asked questions about windshields and going through car washes, so read on!
Is It Safe To Go Through A Car Wash With A Cracked Windshield?
Over time, as you drive, your windshield will get hit with debris and rocks, which can cause small cracks and chips in the glass. While they may seem harmless, those little cracks can quickly spread if left unchecked, leading to a full replacement.
Depending on your vehicle, windshields can be expensive to replace. This may entice you to hold off and try to avoid taking it in for repair. However, the longer you wait, the more debris and elements will increase the damage.
This includes going through a car wash. Automatic car washes have high-pressured water jets that could cause further damage to the windshield, potentially leading to an entire replacement.
In worst-case scenarios, your windshield could collapse entirely if you go through an automatic car wash with a cracked windshield. While there is a lower risk of damage in a touchless or brushless car wash, taking the risk is still not recommended.
If you have a chip or crack in your windshield, take precautions immediately and avoid going through a car wash until it can be fixed. Taking your vehicle to an auto glass repair shop is your best bet for efficient and affordable repair.
If the chip or crack is small enough, the glass specialist may be able to seal it instead of replacing the entire windshield. This can be more affordable and convenient because the repair will only take about an hour instead of a full replacement.
However, if the crack is larger and in your line of vision, the specialist may recommend a full replacement due to safety hazards.
How Long Can You Drive With A Cracked Windshield?
There is no specific time frame for how long you can drive with a cracked windshield. Every windshield crack is different in severity, meaning an appropriate time frame for repair will depend on the individual case.
In general, it is recommended to take your vehicle in for repair as soon as possible. The smallest crack or windshield chip can spread, leading to full coverage of the windshield. The longer you wait, the more pressure and stress are put on the windshield as you drive.
Driving with a cracked windshield can also cause safety hazards. Winds and other elements may further crack or damage the windshield while you drive, putting you at risk for potential accidents. Keeping your eyes on the road is important for a safe drive, and having a cracked windshield can be distracting.
If you live in an area where the temperature fluctuates, then the crack could spread more quickly. For example, cold mornings that turn hot during the day can cause more damage. This is due to the glass compressing and expanding with the weather.
What Should You Not Do With A Crack Windshield?
Until you can get to a windshield specialist, you should take some key steps to prevent further damage.
Keep The Defroster Off
During the winter months, a car defroster can seem like a necessity. However, the direct heat from defrosters can cause cracks to spread more quickly. When the windshield is iced over, directing hot air can cause the glass to expand and further damage the chip or crack.
Instead, let your car idle, allowing the warm engine and interior to defrost the windshield naturally. If necessary, use a snow brush to remove any remaining ice or snow.
Avoid Air Conditioner
The same goes for air conditioners. The air that comes out of the vents can be quite cold, and when it hits a windshield with a crack or chip, it can cause further damage.
Not only will this cause cracks to spread faster, but it could also lead to additional cracks in the surrounding area. If you do need the air conditioner, use it on a lower setting until you can have your windshield fixed.
Avoid Car Washes
Earlier, we mainly touched on automatic car washes and the risks associated with them. However, you should also avoid any type of car wash if you have a cracked windshield.
The pressure from the water jets or brushes can cause further damage. It is best to keep the windshield clean and clear by using soft rags and mild detergents until it can be repaired or replaced.
If you do need to wash your car, doing it yourself may be the best route. Using a garden hose and a sponge with car shampoo is a great way to get the job done without risking further damage.
Avoid Potholes, Speedbumps, And Slamming Doors
Potholes and speedbumps are already dangerous for your suspension, but they can also be dangerous for your windshield. Going over bumps or potholes quickly can cause the crack to spread further. This can lead to needing a full replacement instead of a repair.
In addition, you should avoid slamming car doors shut. The glass is incredibly fragile, and small vibrations can cause cracks to spread.
By taking these precautions until you can get to a professional, you can help ensure the safety of both your windshield and yourself.
Can I Get A Ticket For Driving With A Cracked Windshield?
While it is best to get your windshield fixed or replaced as soon as possible, some people may not have the means to do so. In that case, you should take extra precautions until you can get it done.
In several states, a cracked windshield can be considered an obstruction of view and can result in receiving a ticket. However, if you can prove that you are taking the necessary precautions to avoid further damage, the officer may waive it.
Nonetheless, if a windshield crack obstructs your vision, it is best to have it looked at as soon as possible before getting a ticket. Not doing so could put you and other drivers at risk.
How Much Is A Windshield Replacement?
The cost to replace a windshield can vary widely depending on the size and type of vehicle. Generally, though, you can expect to pay anywhere from $200 up to $2,000 or more for a full replacement.
The cost will also fluctuate depending on the windshield heating elements. Some vehicles have heated windshields, which can add substantially to the cost of the entire replacement.
Most auto insurance policies include comprehensive coverage that can provide windshield repair or replacement without extra cost. Depending on your policy, you may even be able to have it repaired for free. However, you may still have a deductible to pay.
It is always best to check with your insurance company before having any repairs or replacements done. That way, you can make sure you are getting the best deal possible.
If you only have a small crack or chip in your windshield, then the costs can be much cheaper. You can often get a simple repair for as little as $50 or even less. This is why taking care of minor repairs before they become bigger problems is important.
How Long Do Car Windshields Last?
If you drive your vehicle daily, your windshield could last around five years. However, many factors can affect the lifespan of your windshield, such as extreme weather conditions or rocks hitting the glass.
To mitigate the risks, keep a safer distance when driving behind large vehicles like trucks and buses. Rocks can hit your windshield due to their tires, so keeping a further distance will reduce the risk of damage significantly.
Regular maintenance is also a great way to increase the lifespan of your windshield. Cleaning your windshield, replacing the wipers, and re-applying the sealant are all great ways to keep your windshield in peak condition.
You can also buy a bug deflector or weather shield to help protect your windshield from the elements. Additionally, these items can also provide extra aerodynamics for your car and reduce drag and fuel consumption.
Windshields can be an expensive item to replace, and it is best practice to take precautions until you can get it looked at. Whenever you notice a chip or crack, you should immediately have it sealed by a professional. This can prolong the lifespan of your windshield and can also help you avoid getting a ticket for an obstructed view.
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