How Long Can One Drive With a Cracked Windshield

Your car’s windshield can crack due to numerous reasons from something as natural as hail hitting it with a lot of force to rocks and debris falling on it from a dump truck. It isn’t easy dealing with windshield cracks as repairing or replacing windshield requires help from windshield experts. So, one question that usually pops into most driver's mind is, how long can they drive with a cracked windshield?

In all honesty, there is no clear answer to this question. Most mechanics will tell you to get the windshield repaired immediately since the crack is a safety hazard. If you do decide to drive with a cracked windshield, you need to consider the following to determine whether it is safe:

  • Size of the crack: For small cracks, less than six inches, it is likely safe to drive your car around. However, if you notice the crack spreading then getting it repaired by the experts is your best option. Once the crack starts to spread, it weakens the integrity of the windshield and puts you at risk. But before you decide to drive around with a cracked windshield, be sure you check the laws within the province you live. It is likely you will be fined for driving with a cracked windshield. 
  • Position of the crack: The position of the crack is also important, you should be clear to drive as long as the crack doesn’t disrupt your view in any way. A crack on the driver's side of the windshield can make it difficult to drive as it interferes with the driver’s view. 
  • Depth of the crack: Minor cracks are only felt on the outside surface of the windshield while you can feel major cracks on both sides. Replacing windshields with major cracks is important because they can collapse at any time. You can, however, drive around safely in a car with minor cracks on the windshield. 

You can drive around for as long as you like with a cracked windshield as long as it doesn’t go against any regulations set by your province, the crack is minor, and doesn’t disrupt the driver’s field of vision. The moment you notice the crack spreading, you need to get it repaired. Especially, if the crack exceeds six inches in length. 

Precautions to Take When Driving Around with a Cracked Windshield

You need to be extra careful when you operate a car with a cracked windshield. The slightest of cracks can eventually spread, forcing you to spend money on a replacement. Repairing it immediately is your best option, but if you can’t do that for whatever reason, you need to take the following precautions:

  • Regular inspection: You need to inspect the chip or crack daily to ensure it hasn’t started to spread. 
  • Dont slam your doors: Slamming doors is generally not good for the state of your windshield. The force from the slam generates dangerous vibrations, amplifying the chip and crack.
  • Be aware of the temperature: Windshield glass like any glass can expand or contract due to a sudden change of the temperature inside the car. You may want to avoid using a defroster or air conditioning if you have a crack in the windshield because the temperature change can lead to the expansion of the crack. 
  • Drive carefully: You must be more vigilant on the road and avoid driving at high speeds. The smallest of rock or debris from the road can shatter your whole windshield if it hits the crack with force. You also want to be extra careful and drive slowly on bumpy roads and speed bumps. 

Keep in mind that no matter how careful you are, the crack will eventually spread with time.

Repairing a Cracked Windshield

For small chips and cracks, most car owners opt for repairing the windshield on their own. All it takes is cleaning the crack of dust and debris and injecting a clear, curable resin into the glass restoring its integrity. However, it isn’t that simple. There are many factors that you need to consider from the size, depth, location, and type of crack to determine the best approach. 

Rather than taking the task on yourself, it is always better to seek professional help. If proper measures are not taken, you end up further risking the integrity of the windshield, putting it at risk of breaking at any point. 

A cracked windshield is a nuisance that will either need repair work or a replacement with time. Avoid putting you and your family at risk by driving around with such a hazard and seek help from a windshield expert to determine whether to have it repaired or replaced. 

About the author

Tarek Salam is a Canadian auto glass repair technician with over a decade of experience repairing automotive glass for all makes and models of vehicles in Canada. He loves sharing interesting and useful information with the intention of educating and helping people make better automotive decisions.