When Can You Drive After Windshield Replacement?

You’ve recently had your windshield replaced due to some irreparable damage, and you find you’re pressed for time. You begin to wonder if you have to wait for an entire day before you’re finally able to drive your car and resume your day-to-day activities.

You might consider taking a bus or the subway. Then again, commuting can be a hassle. If you’re wondering how long you have to wait before you can drive a vehicle after its windshield has been replaced, everything you need to know is right here.


A Primer on Windshield Replacement Drying Times

Having a windshield replaced is no longer as time-consuming as it used to be. With the introduction of modern adhesives, it’s become possible to make durable, waterproof and quick-drying windshield caulking which dries and cures within 3 to 24 hours.

You might think that 24 hours is still too long, but you can actually start driving your car earlier than that. It’s because drying is a two-step process divided into two periods – safe drive-away time and the minimum drive away time.


Safe drive-away time

It basically only covers the bonding of your windshield to the frame. This is the minimum drying time required for your vehicle to be deemed safe for driving. Depending on the adhesive used, bonding time can be as quick as 3 to 5 hours. Although the most advanced adhesives allow driving in as little as 30 minutes.

If we think in terms of structural integrity, your new windshield won’t fall out or cave in once the adhesive has reached safe drive-away time. But neither does it promise to be completely set and thoroughly bonded to the vehicle. It also doesn’t guarantee waterproofing capacity. So if you’re eager to drive your car with a brand new windshield, don’t do it in rainy weather.


Minimum drive away time

By this time, the adhesive on your windshield would have already thoroughly bonded. It is also now waterproof and resistant to most impacts. It takes anywhere from 24 to 48 hours for a complete, seamless, and durable bond to set.


Factors That Affect Drying Time

Now that we’ve tackled the technicalities on when it is safe to drive, it is important to note that other factors also affect a windshield’s drying time.

  • Weather. The bonding and curing time of urethane adhesive is shorter during the summer months since the heat helps it to dry more quickly. Wet or cold seasons make this specific adhesive bond and cure slower than usual.
  • Driving speed. If you decided to drive your car within the safe drive-away time, be warned that driving in very high speeds can be dangerous. If, on the other hand, you’ve waited for the adhesive to dry and cure completely, you’re good to go regardless of your driving speed.
  • Windshield type. Old-fashioned windshields are easier to dry compared to modern windshields with built-in displays or sensors. These take a while longer and may need a specialized repair crew to undertake the task of replacing it.

Ultimately, you no longer have to wait forever to drive your vehicle after you had the windshield replaced. But as a general precaution, always ensure that a perfect bond has formed and that the adhesive has cured before you drive your vehicle.