A well-maintained car windscreen is essential for the safety of the driver, passengers, and other road users. The windscreen is there to protect you from the elements, and is an important part of the car’s structural integrity. However, with so many everyday hazards to face, the windscreen is bound to pick up damage now and then.
Here are some common causes of windscreen cracks, scratches and chips, and the steps you can take to reduce the risk of damage to your vehicle.
1. Road Debris
Perhaps the most common and unavoidable hazards are loose stones and gravel which are displaced by passing traffic, or fall from the back of trucks. Often, they are sharp and travel at high speed, so even tough glass will take a chip if your vehicle is in the line of fire.
Unfortunately, windscreen damage from flying stones is experienced by most motorists at some point in their driving career. The risks can be minimised by leaving a safe distance between you and the vehicle in front, and observing speed limits, especially in areas where loose chippings are apparent on the road surface.
2. Thermal Shocks
Thermal shocks, or sudden changes in temperature, can cause the glass to expand or contract quickly. This leads to cracks, distortion, or existing chips suddenly becoming wider breaks in the screen. To minimise the risks, never pour boiling water onto your windscreen for de-frosting purposes, no matter how much of a hurry you are in.
Damage caused by direct sunlight is a less common threat here in the UK, but in very hot and sunny weather, make sure your car is parked in a shady spot, or cover the windscreen with newspaper. This will also help to keep the interior cooler.
3. Weather Related Damage
In stormy conditions, tree branches or other debris can become dislodged and blow into your car. Even large hailstones can cause cracks and chips. Sometimes, there is no avoiding our unpredictable climate, but if bad weather is forecast, it is safer to avoid non-essential journeys and keep your car in a garage if possible.
4. Road Traffic Collisions
Accidents inevitably happen now and then, even to the most careful of drivers. This could involve a direct impact with another car, or a collision with an animal, cyclist, or even a bird.
To minimise risks, keep your driving skills refreshed, and consider taking some advanced driver training courses. Avoid driving in hazardous icy or wet conditions and poor visibility unless essential. Make sure your vehicle is well maintained and serviced, with the brakes, tyres, and lights regularly tested for roadworthiness.
5. A Poor-Quality Windscreen
If the glass is poorly installed, then stress fractures are more likely to occur. Tell-tale signs of structural weakness include fractures occurring around the edges of the screen. If you notice this happening, please contact a windscreen replacement service straight away, before the problem becomes a danger to you and other road users.