Can You Drive With a Cracked Windshield?

There’s nothing more distressing than finding a crack on your windshield. It’s a more common occurrence than you might think! Cracked windshields can be caused by pieces of grit or road debris being knocked up onto the windshield while you’re driving. They can also be caused by hail damage. 

Whatever has caused the cracks to appear in your windshield, it can be distressing having the threat of an extra cost to consider when repairing the damage. Depending on the size and diameter of the crack you might even have to replace the windshield altogether! 

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However you choose to deal with your cracked windshield, it can be tricky if you have to use your car or truck in the meantime. So, can you drive with a cracked windshield? And more importantly, is it safe to do so?

Can you drive with a cracked windshield?

To determine whether you can drive with a cracked windshield, there are a few factors that you will need to consider first. As long as the crack is small and isn’t within the driver’s field of vision, it is perfectly safe to drive with a cracked windshield. 

A crack that’s on the driver’s side of the vehicle, however, will impair your vision and could make you a danger to other road users if you can’t react in time to things happening in front of you.

It’s also important to note whether this is a single crack on your windshield or if there are other cracks that may need attention. As long as the crack or chip is less than ¾ inch in diameter and isn’t within 3 inches of another crack, you should be safe to drive your car or truck until you can get the damage seen to. It’s also worth bearing in mind that your particular state may have more detailed laws and regulations concerning the size of window cracks.

However, just because the crack or chip in your windshield doesn’t impair your vision or isn’t too big, that doesn’t mean you should leave it be entirely. A crack will only get bigger over time so you should aim to resolve the problem as quickly as possible.

Is it dangerous to drive with a cracked windshield?

Depending on the placement and size of the chip or crack, it could indeed be dangerous to drive with it on your windshield. While most cracks will be completely harmless, anything that impairs your vision is going to be a hazard. It could also get you in trouble with the police.

It’s worth remembering that cracks will only get worse over time if left unattended. That small 1 inch crack you spotted a month ago? It could take over the majority of your windshield if left unchecked, and be more costly in the long run. 

It’s generally cheaper to repair cracks and chips that you discover while they’re still small. Larger cracks may mean that you have to replace the entire windshield, which you could end up footing the bill for yourself depending on where you live.

Another factor to consider is that a windshield that has cracks in it will be less structurally sound during an accident. The windshield is designed to prevent the roof of your vehicle from collapsing in on you during an accident. A cracked windshield will be more likely to shatter in the event of a road collision, too.

Is it illegal to drive with a cracked windshield?

This will entirely depend on the size of the chip or crack as well as the state where you live. Some states have made it illegal for you to drive with a cracked windshield, especially if the crack impairs the driver’s vision.

However, the good news is that for the majority of states, as long as your crack is smaller than ¾ inch in diameter and isn’t within 3 inches of other cracks, it’s perfectly legal to drive.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that depending on the size and placement of the crack in your windshield, you could get a ticket from the police if caught while driving. If the crack in your windshield is very noticeable when driving the police could pull you over and issue you with a ticket.

How much does it cost to repair or replace a cracked windshield?

The cost of repairing or replacing your cracked windshield will differ depending on the amount of damage. It will be much cheaper to repair smaller chips and cracks as they appear instead of having to replace the entire windshield when cracks get worse. 

It could cost you as little as $10 to repair a cracked windshield if you buy a DIY window repair kit. If you choose to take your vehicle to a glass repair shop to get the work done professionally, it could cost you between $30 to $50 depending on the work that needs to be done.

If you have several different cracks in your windshield, it could cost you up to $100 to fix. If you want to avoid spending a large amount of money, you should try and get cracks or chips sorted as soon as you notice them.

Replacing the whole windshield is understandably a lot more expensive. It could cost you anywhere in the ballpark of between $450 to $500 to replace the whole windshield. The exact cost could depend on your particular vehicle as well as other factors. However, it’s not all doom and gloom! 

Several states have certain laws in place to make your insurance company liable for the cost of repairing or replacing a cracked windshield to encourage people to get the damage seen to as soon as possible without having to be put off by a large sum of money.

Some states may require you to have comprehensive car insurance in order to take advantage of this law, so it will be worth looking into the laws in your particular state in regards to this.

Summary

So in short, it’s perfectly safe to drive with a cracked windshield depending on the size and placing of the crack in question! As long as the crack or chip is relatively small in nature and isn’t impairing the driver’s field of vision, you should be fine to drive your vehicle until you can get it fixed. 

As tempting as it is to put off paying money to get your cracked windshield fixed, it will cost you more money in the long run if you keep putting it off. Cracks can widen over time, and become more costly if you need to replace the whole windshield. 

The majority of states will even have laws that mean your insurance company can cover the cost of repairing or replacing the windshield, so you should try and see to the damage as soon as you can.