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It has happened to many of us. We’re cruising down the highway and then suddenly PING! A rock has been kicked up and has smashed into the windshield. Scanning the windshield reveals a rock chip. The star-shaped hole left in our windshield could become a crack and in that case the windshield might need to be replaced but when is the right time to fix that? Let us answer some basic questions about windshields and when to get them fixed.  

What makes a windshield different from other types of glass? 

Windshields are composed of two panes of glass with a laminated layer of plastic between them. The glass itself has been tempered so, in the event of damage, it breaks into smaller bits that are less dangerous to the passengers of the vehicle. Tempered glass is also more durable and able to withstand more stress and bending before breaking. You can read more about this tempering process here. 

What are Chips and what are Cracks? 

Chips are when a rock or other road debris hits your windshield and breaks off a small piece of glass. Most of these are easy to fix by going to our Collision Centre or even by using a DIY kit. However, if the debris hits the inner layer of plastic of the windshield, you might be looking at a replacement. Chips are normally not a big deal, but they can be the start of something bigger, like a crack. 

Cracks are a much bigger deal than chips. Cracks are lines of separating glass and can grow over time. Changes in temperature causes the glass to expand and contract which makes cracks grow. Cracks are not only unsightly but can also compromise the structural integrity of your vehicle.  

Credit to clearestglass.com

During a front-end collision, the windshield is designed to transfer some of the energy of the impact to the chassis (the sturdy framework) of the vehicle and away from the passengers inside. With the energy transferred, your chances of walking away from the accident greatly improves. However, if your windshield is damaged, this can hinder its ability to transfer the flow of energy to the chassis and allow more to reach your car’s occupants.  

When Should I Fix or Replace my Windshield? 

In Ontario, Canada it is illegal to drive with a damaged windshield. You can be fined $85 for a cracked windshield and if the damage is excessive, your vehicle ordered off the road.  

Besides the legal and safety implications of having a damaged windshield, it’s also more cost effective to fix a chipped windshield before it becomes a crack. Chips are easily fixable and take less than an hour to repair. Meanwhile, a cracked windshield will need to be replaced which is both expensive and time consuming as there’s curing time for the adhesive. You’ll also need to make sure the windshield you get to replace your damaged one is the proper one. Not just any one will work. If your vehicle has safety features like Honda Sensing Suite, you need a special windshield that will work with those features, otherwise the features themselves will not be as accurate or work the way they’re supposed to. 

We understand that your life may get busy, and you won’t be able to deal with a chip or crack right away; however, there is a rule of thumb to help you know when it’s time to replace your windshield. If your windshield has 3 or more cracks in your windshield that are longer than 14 millimeters, you should replace it as soon as possible.  

While this rule of thumb gives you wiggle room, we highly encourage you to get your windshield looked at by professionals immediately after noticing a chip or crack. Your safety and the safety of your passengers can depend on the integrity of your windshield. If you have any questions or concerns about your windshield, please feel free to contact us at Orleans Honda and we can provide you information to our Collision Centre and other questions you many have. Happy driving!