Cracked windshields are a common issue for many vehicle owners, so when your windshield gets a chip or crack, it can initially seem like a minor inconvenience. However, if left unchecked, what seems like a small chip can quickly spread across your windshield, compromising the structural integrity of your vehicle. How — and why — does this “contagious cracking” happen? It’s all due to the intentional design of windshield glass. Let’s take a closer look at this multi-layered problem!

What’s Up With Your Windshield?

The windshield of your vehicle is a complex structure designed to provide maximum protection and visibility for the driver. The typical windshield consists of two layers of glass sandwiched around a layer of plastic, known as laminate. This laminate keeps the windshield from shattering into dangerous pieces in case of a collision.

When a rock or other debris hits your windshield, it can create a chip or crack on the outer layer of glass. This damage creates a point of stress in the glass, and as the glass expands and contracts with temperature changes or vibrates with the movement of the car, the stress can cause the crack to spread. This spreading often seems “contagious” because it seems to move across the windshield without any additional impact. In reality, it’s actually the result of the initial point of stress in the glass being exacerbated by normal driving conditions.

The reason why a small crack can turn into a big problem also has a lot to do with the nature of glass itself. Glass is an amorphous solid, which means it lacks the regular, repeating structure of crystalline solids. This makes glass inherently more susceptible to cracking, as there are fewer stable structures to stop a crack from spreading. So, while that small chip or crack might seem like a minor issue at first, it’s essential to seek windshield replacement in Warminster, PA, as soon as possible.

Stop the Spread

While it’s essential to seek assistance ASAP for a windshield crack, proper care and maintenance can help prevent the crack from spreading in the meantime. Here’s what you need to know:

Watch the Weather

It’s advisable to park your car in the shade or indoors whenever possible to protect your windshield from extreme temperatures.  In summer, parking your car in direct sunlight can cause the interior to heat up significantly. This sudden heat causes the glass to expand rapidly, and if there’s a chip or crack present, it’s likely to spread. In winter, the cold can cause the glass to contract, which can also lead to the spread of windshield damage. 

Don’t Shock the ‘Shield

Besides parking in the shade or indoors, you should also avoid sudden temperature changes. For example, never pour hot water on a frozen windshield to defrost it. The rapid change from cold to hot can cause the glass to crack or existing cracks to spread.

Keep Your Distance

Keep a safe distance when driving behind other vehicles, especially on highways and gravel roads. Debris kicked up by the car in front of you can hit your windshield with enough force to create a chip or crack — or cause existing damage to get worse.

Coming Clean

Keeping your windshield clean is another way to prevent cracks from spreading. But skip the drive-thru car wash — the force of high-pressure water can push into the crack, causing it to widen or lengthen. Instead, opt for hand-washing your windshield with a soft cloth and mild soap. Be gentle around the area of the chip or crack to avoid causing any additional damage, and dry your windshield thoroughly after washing to prevent moisture from sitting in the damaged area.

Safe Windshield = Safe Driving!

Understanding how and why windshield damage spreads is key to preventing small issues from becoming more significant problems. Cracked windshields are not just an aesthetic issue — they can compromise the structural integrity of your vehicle and put your safety at risk.

So, if you notice a chip or crack in your windshield, don’t wait for it to spread or try your hand with an ineffective windshield repair kit. Contact Alderfer Glass today for professional and reliable windshield replacement in Warminster, PA. Protect your windshield, protect your vehicle, and protect yourself!

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