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So, a truck you were driving behind kicked up a rock and cracked your windshield. Now what? That little star-shaped crack might look harmless now, but it can easily grow from needing a small repair to requiring a whole new windshield. This sort of damage also leaves you at risk of not complying with state vehicle inspection laws, which prohibit cracks in windshields. Even worse, a crack or chip in just the right spot could limit the effectiveness of your car’s advanced safety systems. To find out if it's safe to drive with a cracked or chipped windshield, and to learn what options you have for repairing and replacing a damaged windshield, we talked to the experts at Safelite Auto Glass®.

The longer you wait to repair a small chip or crack, the more expensive and time-consuming the repair may become as you risk the chance of the crack spreading. If you have a newer vehicle and the chip or crack is near a forward-facing camera (usually around where your rearview mirror is mounted), you'll want to get it fixed immediately. A crack or chip in the glass in front of this safety technology could affect the operation of the vehicle's advanced safety features, which include adaptive cruise control, collision avoidance, lane departure warnings, and more.

A crack or chip in just the right spot could limit the effectiveness of your car’s safety systems.

According to Safelite, about 80 percent of today's new vehicles are equipped with some sort of forward-facing camera, and by next year, the company expects all new vehicles to come with this technology. On these vehicles, windshield replacement also requires a recalibration of the camera system, and the type of recalibration also varies by make and model. 

Safelite says there are two types of recalibrations for today's vehicles: a static recalibration takes place in the shop with lasers and target boards, while a dynamic recalibration requires a road test. Some vehicles require both. Safelite can perform both types of recalibrations at its repair facilities.

There are some things you can do to minimize the chance of the crack growing.

If your vehicle has suffered windshield damage but you aren't able to get it looked at by a professional windshield repair company right away, don't worry, as there are some things you can do to minimize the chance of the crack growing. First things first, don't believe the "windshield hacks" who suggest putting super glue in the crack or chip, as this could make a simple windshield repair turn into the need for a full windshield replacement. What you can do is avoid parking in direct sunlight for extended periods of time, which could heat up the windshield and cause the crack to grow. Also, don't expose the windshield to extreme temperature changes such as spraying cold water on a hot windshield.

A windshield with less than three chips or cracks smaller than six inches can be repaired, which saves time compared to a full windshield replacement. Repairing a chipped or cracked windshield is done by applying resin under a vacuum to the damaged area and curing it to a rock-hard finish using an ultraviolet light. The result is a repair that is nearly unnoticeable and protects the integrity of your windshield. When the damage is not repairable, though, a windshield replacement is the only way to go, so be sure to choose a company that uses qualified technicians and top-quality materials like Safelite.

Any damage done to your windshield could be considered a safety hazard, but the longer you take to address it could lead to additional safety issues and added costs. While prices for both repairs and replacements vary not only by the make and model of your vehicle, but also by the type of company used, you should look for a company that will work with your insurance company to provide low- or no-cost windshield repair and replacement, and you can always get a free quote online at safelite.com.

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