Your windshield is made of laminated tempered glass. This makes it five times tougher than ordinary glass. And unlike side car windows which are tempered but not laminated, the windshield is shatterproof — meaning, it doesn’t break into smaller pieces.
In spite of these, your windshield isn’t 100% resistant to damage. At the end of the day, it’s still glass that eventually needs replacing. Here are the signs that your windshield needs to be replaced.
Sign #1: Your view is compromised
A windshield is supposed to give you a clear and uninterrupted view of the road. So if there’s anything that compromises this, it’s a sign that you need to have it replaced as soon as possible.
It doesn’t matter if the damage is “just a small chip” or “some tiny crack”. When you’re driving, you’ll either get distracted by these imperfections or you’ll end up mistaking them for a pedestrian or another vehicle from the corner of your eye. Both can affect your split-second decisions and potentially lead to an accident.
Sign #2: There’s visible pitting
Pitting is used to describe small craters on your windshield. It’s a common problem for cars that are used in long-distance driving, or on dusty and gravel roads where sand and small rocks frequently hit the windshield.
The small pits are hard to ignore. They reflect light and prevent you from having a clear view of the road. The pits also collect water when it’s raining, thus posing more visibility problems for the driver.
Sign #3: White discoloration on the sides
Earlier, we mentioned that windshields are laminated. More specifically, they are treated with polyvinyl butral or PVB. This prevents the glass from shattering into a million jagged pieces in the event of a collision accident. Instead, they will break apart into round chunks of glass to prevent passengers from getting injured.
If you see a white haze around the edges of your windshield, it’s a sign that the laminate is separating prematurely from the rest of glass. There’s no way to reverse this process. The windshield has to be replaced immediately.
Sign #4: Missing pieces
You’ve probably come across cars on the road with half their windshields covered with trash bags and duct tape. It may seem like a clever workaround, but it’s also very dangerous.
Though it may not be obvious, a windshield helps maintain the structural integrity of a vehicle and prevents the car frame from sagging. So if there are entire pieces of your windshield missing, you should get the whole thing replaced.
Sign #5: You’re scheduled for inspection
There are only seven states in the U.S. where vehicle inspection isn’t required. These include Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, South Carolina, and South Dakota. Everywhere else – except Michigan and Mississippi where inspections are also generally not required – car owners must submit their vehicles for regular inspection.
If your windshield has large cracks or any type of damage that discourages law enforcers from renewing your sticker, now is a good time to replace it.