You might not think anything of the tiny nicks and chips on your windshield. But even small cracks can impair your sight, cause brutal sun glare, and make you more susceptible to injury during a car accident. Not to mention that driving with a crack in your windshield is illegal.
That’s why it’s so important not to wait too long before getting your windshield repaired or replaced.
Sometimes it might even seem like the cracks in your windshield came out of nowhere. You know you haven’t driven behind a gravel truck recently, so what could be the cause?
We’ll walk you through the most common types of windshield cracks and their causes below.
Types of Windshield Cracks
There are actually several different types of windshield cracks. Some are big, some are small, and some could be oddly shaped. To figure out where your mysterious cracks are coming from, you’ll need to identify the type of crack on your windshield first.
A chip is a less serious crack in the windshield. It’s a small chunk of glass that was taken out of the windshield.
Bull’s eye cracks are pretty self-explanatory — they’re cracks that look like an actual bull’s eye on a dartboard.
Any glass crack that doesn’t start at the edge of the windshield is considered a floater crack. These cracks are usually in the middle of the windshield.
Edge cracks begin two inches or less from the edge of the windshield. They’re typically about 10-12 inches long.
Any impact on your windshield that has several cracks stemming from it is considered a star break.
Combination breaks consist of several kinds of breaks on your windshield. If your windshield has a chip with cracks, then you have a combination break.
Most Common Causes of Windshield Cracks
Now that you’ve figured out the type of crack in your windshield, you’re probably wondering what causes a windshield to crack. It’s very likely that one of the following reasons resulted in damage to your windshield.
Mother Nature has a few tricks up her sleeve. Unfortunately, this usually isn’t good for your car. Although your windshield is made to withstand thermal strain, they’re still at risk for developing cracks.
You may wake up one morning and see a crack in your windshield. You’ll probably think to yourself: “My windshield cracked for no reason.” However, that’s not true — weather is to blame.
If you live in an area where the weather tends to change drastically, it’s more likely that your windshield will crack. Glass expands in warm weather and shrinks when it’s cold, resulting in a lot of stress on your windshield.
For instance, the temperature might be freezing for weeks, but could rise to 40°F or 50°F on some days. These fluctuations can greatly affect your car’s windshield if it’s not stored in a garage.
2. Extreme Pressure Changes
While it’s true that your windshield glass is some of the most durable glass around, a crack can occur when it’s under a high amount of pressure or if there are sudden pressure changes. Driving too fast or having something fall on your windshield can result in windshield stress cracks from pressure-related causes.
3. Car Accidents
It’s obvious to know where your windshield’s crack came from if you were recently in an accident. However, windshield cracks from car accidents aren’t always dramatic glass explosions. Small cracks commonly form after minor collisions.
Your windshield damage could also be a result of your frame being bent after an accident. A bent frame puts weight on the glass, ultimately breaking it. Make sure to have a mechanic take a look at your windshield if it’s cracked after an accident.
4. Poor Installation
Occasionally, your windshield might crack due to a poor installation. When the glass is looser than normal, it’ll vibrate while you’re driving. This vibration is enough to damage the windshield.
If you’ve just had your windshield replaced and you hear a strange vibrating noise, return to your mechanic to have it fixed. This is a sign that the windshield was not installed properly. To avoid this, always have your windshield serviced by a professional windshield specialist.
Rocks are the most common cause of cracked car windshields. While these chips usually aren’t a big deal, you might notice some that get worse over time. These chips will begin developing a series of cracks that spread out from the impact’s center, much like a star break.
Damage from rocks is usually caused by trucks carrying gravel or construction materials. Always stay a reasonable length away from trucks that are carrying any kind of debris.
6. Stormy Weather
Storms can wreak havoc on your windshield. Hail is especially notorious for causing glass cracks and leaving golf ball-sized dents on your car. In addition, gusts of wind can cause tree branches and other debris to fall on your windshield.
The debris that’s blown onto your windshield by wind has about the same amount of force as a rock — it’ll make small chips that can eventually grow larger. Try to park your car in your garage during storms, as most cars get damaged when parked outside.
7. Cheap Glass
Although windshield glass should never be low-quality, some windshields are on the cheaper side, making them easily damageable. Low-end windshields tend to have more defects than expensive ones. You might see a small crack here and there, but they can possibly become cracks that span your entire windshield.
The next time you get a windshield replacement, go to a specialist you trust. Ensure that they use high-quality windshields from a well-known brand. You may end up paying a little more for your new windshield, but you’ll be preventing any damage and unnecessary expenses in the future.
Cracked Windshields Need a Replacement
Don’t hesitate to replace your windshield if you notice windshield cracks that are starting to become a bigger problem. Replacing your windshield early ensures the safety of yourself and your passengers.
Suffering from a chipped or cracked windshield? Schedule an appointment at one of our locations to get your next windshield professionally replaced.