Why Windshield Cracks are Worse in Winter

Why Windshield Cracks are Worse in Winter

Photo of a cracked windshield in winter weather

Photo of a cracked windshield in winter weather

Windshield chips can often be repaired, and it doesn’t cost much. But if a chip turns into a large crack, you may end up paying for a new windshield. And windshield damage is more likely to get worse during the extreme temperatures of the winter months, so it’s even more important this time of year to repair chips as soon as they happen.

A chip that interferes with driver visibility carries its own dangers, but any windshield damage can be literally life-threatening in certain situations. This is because a windshield provides as much as 60 percent of a vehicle’s structural strength during a roll-over, so any weakness in the glass can increase the odds of injury or death. (Rollovers cause more than 30 percent of all collision fatalities.)

Cold weather is hard on automotive glass

When a windshield gets cold, it contracts in a very specific way, becoming slightly more curved. When glass is “over-bent” in this way, it’s much more likely to break, so winter temperatures definitely add significant stress to any damaged areas. This makes them more likely to spread—a lot more likely. At 32 degrees, that chip is 60% more likely to grow than during temperate months, and at 14 degrees, the odds nearly double.

Okay, now add in the fact that you’ll probably turn the defroster on at these temperatures, and the odds go up even more. This is because cold air is hitting the outside of the glass and warm air is hitting it inside, which further increases the stress.

How big can a chip get and still be repaired?

The short answer is, “not very big.” Here’s a rundown of the types of windshield damage that can usually be repaired:

  • Rock chips as large as a quarter
  • Small crack/chip combinations
  • Pits and dings
  • Smaller star-shaped cracks
  • Bulls eyes (circular or semicircular chips)
Photo of six types of auto glass damage that can be repaired including windshield bulls eyes, chips, dings, pits, rock chips and star breaks.

Photo of six types of auto glass damage that can be repaired including windshield bulls eyes, chips, dings, pits, rock chips and star breaks.

What types of windshield damage can’t be repaired?

To understand why some windshield damage can’t be repaired, we need to understand how it’s done. Technicians start by cleaning the damaged area. (If the chip has too much dirt in it, it may be non-repairable—another reason to take care of it quickly, before it fills in with dirt!) Next they place a precision vacuum mold over the chip. This device forms a flat upper surface that matches the surface of the windshield. Under this mold, the chip is then depressurized and filled with a plastic resin that matches the optics of auto safety glass. Because of the small size of the vacuum tool and the strength limitations of the resin, chips can’t be very big. Here’s a rundown of the types of damage we can’t repair:

  • Cracks near the edge. Obviously, the vacuum tool can’t cover them entirely. Also, edge cracksespeciallyreduce the strength of the windshield and therefore the vehicle’s rollover protection.
  • Long cracks.
  • Complex/severe damage, as shown in the photos below.
  • Damage in the driver’s line of vision. This is a visibility issue, and therefore a safety issue.
  • Multiple cracks.
  • Photo of four types of auto glass damage that cannot be repaired including severe damage, edge damage, long cracks and multiple cracks on a windshield.

    Photo of four types of auto glass damage that cannot be repaired including severe damage, edge damage, long cracks and multiple cracks on a windshield.

    Photo of a vaccum windshield repair tool affixed to a windshield. The tool has a vacuum line connected to it.

    Photo of a vaccum windshield repair tool affixed to a windshield. The tool has a vacuum line connected to it.

    Don’t put it off

    Nobody wants to spend money unnecessarily, but when your windshield is chipped, you’re actually saving money by taking care of it before it gets worse. A new windshield can cost hundreds of dollars, while a repair is usually around fifty dollars. And in the winter, time is not on your side, so it’s especially important to deal with this problem promptly. Give us a call at 316-262-8888 or stop by the shop at 1100 S. Washington in Wichita. We’ll give you a great deal.

    A Driver’s Guide to Deer Dating (Mating) Season

    A Driver’s Guide to Deer Dating (Mating) Season

    Love sometimes makes us all a little crazy, and deer are particularly unpredictable during mating season. In Kansas this season peaks from late September through early January. Females are in heat and males are chasing them across areas they would ordinarily avoid, like roads, so use extra caution when driving this time of year. In this article, we’ll share some tips for avoiding deer related collisions, and what to do if you encounter one of these Romeos on the road.

    A Driver’s Guide to Deer Dating (Mating) Season

    Deer collisions are on the rise

    Thanks to effective game management, deer populations are increasing across the USA—and so are related auto accidents. There are currently over a million deer collisions every year, causing thousands of injuries and hundreds of fatalities. It’s more important now than ever to have a game plan.

    There are currently over a million deer collisions every year, causing thousands of injuries and hundreds of fatalities.

    How to avoid a deer collision

    1. Be extra watchful at night, dawn and dusk. Let’s be clear: bucks are completely cuckoo both day and night during the rutting season, but the hours of darkness and near darkness are peak times for their unpredictable behavior. And obviously, it’s much harder for drivers to see anything at night; so slow down and focus on the road—and the side of the road. If you see small flashes of light, it may be deer eyes reflecting your headlights. If you’re driving during the day, watch for deer approaching on both sides of the road ahead.

    2. Watch for multiple deer. If you see a deer near the road, it’s time to slow down, in case there are more. Females often travel in groups, and during mating season, eligible, young bucks follow them. If you see one deer, there may be more hiding close by.

    3. Pay attention to warning signs. Known high-traffic areas for deer are often marked with diamond-shaped warning signs. Wildlife and highway officials place these in areas known to have large deer populations.

    Deer crossing signs are placed where deer populations are dense around roadways

    (Deer crossing signs are placed where deer populations are dense around roadways…)

    4. Honk the horn in long blasts if you see deer. Leaning on the horn is your best strategy to frighten deer away from the road. Even if you don’t see any, it never hurts to honk periodically if you’re driving through an area with trees, water or growing crops—places where deer usually live—just to let them know you’re there. You may have heard of ultrasonic deer whistles, and it’s okay to mount them on your vehicle if it makes you feel better, but there is no proof that they actually work.

    Sometimes it’s best to hit the deer

    Here’s an important statistic: most fatalities and serious injuries result from drivers trying not to hit a deer in their path. Yes, if you hit a deer, it’s going to damage your vehicle, but the results are usually worse for drivers who swerve to miss them, i.e., going off the road, careening into other vehicles or hitting something else.

    If you see a deer in the road ahead, apply your brakes, grip the steering wheel and try to bring your vehicle to a stop, but keep the vehicle on the road or at least the shoulder.

    Wear your seatbelt

    Seatbelts save lives in any kind of potential collision, including deer hits. Put it on and keep it on, whether you’re in deer country or not.

    Seatbelts save lives in any kind of potential collision, including deer hits.

    If you hit a deer

    Don’t panic. It’s more important now than ever to keep your wits sharp and follow these steps:

    1. Pull off the road if you can.
    2. Switch on your hazard lights.
    3. Stay in your vehicle, survey the traffic situation, and exit the vehicle only when you’re sure it’s safe.
    4. If the deer is near, stay clear of it, even if it’s not moving. Injured deer may lie still for long periods of time as if dead, but if they move again, they can easily injure you.
    5. Call 911 if there are any injuries or property damage, or if the deer presents a danger to other drivers.
    6. Call your insurance agent.
    Should you drive your vehicle after a deer hit?

    Your vehicle may be drivable after a deer hit, and it may not. Before driving away from a deer collision, check for broken headlights, an unlatchable hood, parts hanging loose, tire damage, leaking fluids or anything that may render the vehicle unsafe.

    Is my care drivable after a deer hit?

    Does insurance cover deer collisions?

    Most insurance providers cover a deer collision under comprehensive and collision coverage, but a collision policy may not cover you if you don’t actually hit the deer. Contact your insurance agent about the type of coverage you have.

    How much does deer-collision repair cost?

    There’s no easy answer to this. Call your insurance agent and Auto Paint Repair to learn what kind of cost options are available to make your vehicle safe, drivable and attractive again. For minor damage, you may not even want to file an insurance claim, as this can raise your rates.

    Call your insurance agent and Auto Paint Repair to learn what kind of cost options are available to make your vehicle safe, drivable and attractive again.