The danger of cracks and chips

If you have a crack or chip in your windscreen that you have not yet repaired, it might be time to do so as winter looms. Cracks in a windscreen can be affected by all weather but in winter, cold temperatures make the windscreen more concave and consequently place more pressure on the crack. One should never ignore the danger that a crack presents but this is even more so in winter.

The managing director of MasterDrive, Eugene Herbert, asks if a windscreen contributes towards 30% of a vehicle’s structural support, is this something that one should neglect? “Many drivers may not realise just how important their windscreen is in protecting them. Of particular importance is the role of the windscreen in reducing the chance of the roof collapsing if a car rolls. There are also a number of other safety functions of a windscreen.”

These include:

  • Airbags use the windscreen as a support structure that ensures passenger airbags are properly inflated. If the airbag pressure causes the windscreen to pop out, the airbag becomes useless.
  • Its ability to withstand an impact from a larger piece of debris can be dangerously weakened
  • Damaged windscreens can cause you to become fatigued much faster
  • If the damage is on the driver’s side, in particular, this can have a major impact on visibility.
  • At night, drivers can be dazzled even worse than normal by oncoming light.
  • A chip can create a halo effect around a light source while a crack scatters the light adding a ‘tail’ to the light source
  • Determining the distance of objects may be affected
  • A damaged windscreen makes a car unroadworthy

Windscreens can also be damaged over time. “While not failproof, ensure that you keep your windscreen clean. Using windscreen wipers that have collected dirt or on dusty windows can add to the scratches that collect over time. Worn or perished windscreen wipers can also add to this. Make a point to regularly clean your windscreen and add an approved cleaning agent to the water tank that is used to clean your windows.”

Even chips should be promptly reacted to. “Up to 30% of the time windscreen damage can be repaired rather than replaced. Once a chip spreads past a certain point, you will need to replace the entire windscreen. Thus, if the safety implications do not appeal to your sensibilities, maybe the cost implications will,” advises Herbert.

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