Keeping your windscreen in good condition is essential to ensure you are protected from the elements, and to provide you with a clear and unimpeded view of the road. The windscreen is also important to the integral structure of the vehicle, and if it is damaged, it could compromise the safety of you, your passengers, and other road users.
Driving with a cracked windscreen may even constitute a motoring offence, if it is deemed to be interrupting the driver’s view of the road. This could result in points on your licence or a fine. If you are involved with an accident, the offence you are charged with could be more serious. Here are some tips to help ensure your windscreen is in optimal condition.
1. Deal with small cracks and chips straight away
Even a small crack or chip can threaten the performance of your windscreen. It might be tempting to ignore it, especially if it isn’t directly in your line of vision. However, even a few millimetres of damage will grow worse over time, and a sudden impact, such as hitting a pothole, could cause to whole screen to crack.
Besides being very dangerous, waiting for the damage to spread will mean that you might have to pay for a windscreen replacement, rather than a repair that can be fixed relatively quickly and cheaply. Inspect the glass for signs wear and tear on a regular basis, rather than waiting until you notice any flaws while operating the vehicle.
2. Replace windscreen wipers regularly
Windscreen wipers are essential to keep the glass clean and clear, but they are prone to deterioration and should be replaced once a year, or whenever you notice they are failing to remove moisture and debris effectively.
3. Avoid sudden changes of temperature
If your windscreen is frozen in winter, it can be tempting to pour hot water on it, in order to make a quick start to your journey. However, this is likely to thermally shock the glass, causing it to crack. Instead, switch on the engine and turn up the heat and fans. Clear all the loose snow off the car, and use an ice scraper to clear the glass.
Take care not leave your vehicle at any point during the defrosting process, as thieves will be on the lookout for any unattended vehicles with running engines on frosty mornings. You are unlikely to be covered by an insurance policy if your car is stolen in this manner, as it will basically be your fault.
Don’t be tempted to drive away until all of the glass is completely clear and you have an uncompromised view of the road.
4. Drive sensibly
Maintain a reasonable distance from the vehicle in front, to minimise the risk of loose stones hitting your windscreen. Drive at lower speeds over potholes, loose gravel, and road humps to avoid placing unnecessary stress on your windscreen, and stick to the speed limit at all times.
Remember that any cracks or chips over 40mm in a windscreen will result in an MOT fail, as will any damage measuring over 10mm, if it falls within the driver’s zone of vision.