Winter is upon us. It’ll be here before we know it. The Farmer’s Almanac is foreseeing another doozy of a winter for all of us in West Chester, Pennsylvania. More cold weather and lots of precipitation. The cold, wintry weather – as you know – poses lots of risks on the road. We have to put on our winter driving caps to make sure we get from point-A to point-B safely.
But safety isn’t all about how well we drive, it’s also about how well prepared our vehicles are for the winter, and this means: checking our windshields. That’s right, windshields pose a significant risk during the cold winter months, especially if you have a crack already present. For some, you may have been driving with that crack for a while and think it is of no consequence, but bring on the cold air, and you are tempting a dangerous occurrence while driving. Your “get ready for winter” preparations should include not only a car checkup, but a windshield check.
The Dangers of Not Paying Attention to Your Windshield
As you know, in the Northeast, with winter comes road conditions that are slippery and dangerous. According to Pennsylvania’s Department of Transportation (Penn DOT), accidents occur more often during the months of October through January, as do fatalities stemming from these accidents. And it makes sense that accidents are statistically higher in these months because the holidays put more cars on the roads, the weather makes road conditions less safe, and shorter days means more driving in the dark. What’s more, if you are in an accident, a windshield with a crack can exacerbate the effects of the accident.
The following are examples of what could happen with a crack in the windshield:
- Being Ejected as a Passenger
- Airbag Malfunction
- Increased Risk If a Rollover Occurs
- Decreased Protection in Front-End Collisions
As the driver or front seat passenger, you are at greater risk of being ejected from the impact of an accident. A windshield with a crack in it before a collision will likely shatter on impact. If you aren’t wearing a seatbelt, the windshield will offer you no protection if it shatters, and you will be ejected.
On the other hand, you may be wearing a seatbelt, but the airbag may not deploy properly. In most cars, the windshield is necessary for proper airbag deployment upon impact with another car or object; it acts as the backstop to make the airbag inflate toward the front seats. If the windshield, however, shatters, the airbag may inflate toward the opening made by the shattered windshield. When this happens, there’s neither protection from the airbag nor the windshield.
Rollovers are a common type of auto accident in the winter, and they can prove to be very dangerous. In fact, according to Penn DOT, 42% of all rollovers are fatal if in a light truck or van, and 20% are fatal if in a passenger vehicle. Those are high statistics that are compounded by a cracked windshield. Unlike an undamaged windshield that can provide structural support during a rollover (e.g., prevent the roof from caving), a damaged windshield (e.g., unrepaired crack or chip) can shatter easily upon impact, and thus provide no structural support. Without the support and if the vehicle flips, the roof will cave and injure the driver and any passenger more than if the roof had not caved.
Structural integrity doesn’t stop with rollovers. If you experience a front-end collision, the windshield usually allocates the force of the impact down to the chassis, which reduces the impact to those persons inside the vehicle. This protection, however, does not exist if the windshield shatters upon contact because of an unrepaired crack.
You should know that windshields do not shatter upon impact, but only do so when its integrity is compromised by unrepaired cracks or chips.
Additionally, apart from the effects of being in a collision, having a crack in the windshield during the winter is dangerous in and of itself. The frequent up and down of being frozen then heated, then frozen again, makes the windshield more susceptible to shattering, especially while driving. So, instead of heightening the effects of an accident, it can be the cause of an accident. But taking care of your windshield is relatively inexpensive. What should you do? It’s simple: regularly inspect, properly repair, and consistently maintain.
What to do about Your Cracked Windshield Before Winter
- Inspect your windshields
- Repair minor cracks or chips.
- Replace your windshield with experienced professionals.
You may already have a crack or chip in your windshield. You may think that it’s small, thus, insignificant. But that crack or chip compromises the integrity of your windshield. You want to check both the front and rear windshields.
In some cases, it isn’t necessary to replace the windshield quite yet, if cracks or chips are repaired properly. If you notice a crack, cover it with clear nail polish or strong clear tape to prevent dirt and moisture from getting into it, and then seek professional help to properly repair it before the windshield further cracks.
You need to replace the windshield, but not just by anyone. An improperly replaced windshield can be just as problematic as the crack was. At Anthony Volk Auto Glass, we have more than 20 years’ experience replacing windshields. We guarantee no leaks, wind noises, or other issues. We also guarantee two men will replace the windshield to ensure proper placement and perfect fit. Many competitors will employ only one person to do the job, but this prevents adequate sizing and fitting that can cause problems while driving.
What to do to Maintain the Integrity of your Windshield during Winter
There are several things you can do during the winter months to protect your windshield. Below are some suggestions:
- Use proper winter windshield washer fluid.
- Keep your windshields clean.
- Avoid extreme temperatures.
- Protect it from the elements.
- Seek the advice from a windshield expert.
In the harsh months of winter, regular windshield washer fluid can freeze, so when it comes time to use it, it may not work. In winter months in Pennsylvania, windshield washer fluid needs to be mixed with the proper amount of antifreeze for the specific temperatures we face in West Chester. Check the label on the windshield fluid you purchase. Most will provide the appropriate temperatures.
Dirt allows moisture to cling to the windshield, which can cause it to freeze more readily and be more susceptible to cracks. If dirt gets into a crack, it makes repair more difficult. But if the dirt allows moisture to get into the crack, then it may mean complete replacement rather than a repair.
Remember something frozen cracks easily. If you try to quickly defrost your windshield with high heat, then the integrity of the windshield is compromised each time you do so, making it – again – more susceptible to cracks or chips. Slowly defrost the windshield, even if you are in a hurry.
The weight of snow and the force of wind can have a considerable impact on the windshield. Protect it by parking in a garage or under a carport, but never under a tree.
If you question any small crack or chip or anything else about your front or rear windshield, seek professional advice. Someone experienced will be able to counsel you on what you should do about your windshields. You are likely not the only one in your vehicle during the winter months; you probably have passengers at some point. The integrity of your windshield matters not only to your safety, but everyone else’s in the vehicle. There’s no cost to seek advice, except for the cost of injuries if you fail to do so.
Contact Experienced Professionals Before Winter Months Make Driving with a Cracked Windshield Dangerous
Now that you know you shouldn’t let that crack or chip go unrepaired, you should contact Anthony Volk Auto Glass today at (610) 436-9727. Our team is ready to inspect your windshield, advise you what we think should be done, and then either repair or replace it. Starting the winter with a good windshield is essential to your protection – let that be our responsibility. And then throughout the winter months, it’s your responsibility to maintain the windshield.