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Can You Drive With A Cracked Windshield?

Can You Drive With A Cracked Windshield?

Of all the parts of your vehicle, the windshield plays a big role in your safety behind the wheel. 

Providing you with the visibility you need, the last thing you want is a cracked windshield. Can you drive your vehicle once the windshield is cracked? Here are the answers you need to this question.

Whether or not you can still safely drive with a cracked windshield depends on the size of the crack and the distance you’re trying to go. A small crack may last you months or years without causing issues, but larger cracks are not only dangerous but are an illegal safety hazard on the road. 

If you have a cracked windshield, the safest option is to get it fixed immediately. 

This is especially true for larger cracks that may spread or cause a sudden, catastrophic break of your windshield while you’re driving.

How Long Can You Drive with a Cracked Windshield?

Once you spot a crack in your windshield, whether it is a minor one that’s barely noticeable or a larger one that may give you more concern, auto experts agree that there is no specific amount of time that allows you to drive safely with a cracked windshield.

If your windshield has a very small crack in it that you think is not likely to spread to other parts of the glass and get bigger, you may be able to drive your vehicle for perhaps several months or even longer without having your windshield sustain any more damage. 

However, if you have a large crack in the windshield, chances are you may only be able to drive for a few days before you will need to get it fixed. 

Not only will a large crack hamper your visibility while driving, but it will also make the glass in the windshield much more brittle, meaning your windshield could potentially break or shatter while you are driving down the road.

Along with the potential safety hazards, there is also the chance you may get pulled over by police if the crack is large enough to be a safety concern. In these cases, you could be ticketed for driving an unsafe vehicle. 

Should this occur, you not only will be paying out your hard-earned money to get your windshield fixed, but also find yourself paying a traffic ticket as well.

What Happens if You Don’t Fix a Cracked Windshield?

If you choose to not address the problem and continue to drive your vehicle with a cracked windshield, you are taking an unnecessary risk with your safety and the safety of others who are in your vehicle.

Should the glass have even minor cracks, chips, or areas where pieces of glass are actually missing, your windshield is much more unstable than you realize. 

If you are involved in an accident, even a minor fender bender, there is a good chance your glass will shatter upon impact. 

Even if the crack is very small initially, it may not stay that way for very long. When you are driving down the road, your windshield is subjected to far more stress than you realize. 

Eventually, this takes its toll on any imperfections in the glass, most often resulting in a small crack growing larger and spreading to other areas of the glass. 

Also, if you keep driving your vehicle with a cracked windshield, your vehicle will not pass a state inspection. If this happens, you won’t be able to legally drive your car until you get the windshield fixed. 

Rather than let may start out as a small problem get bigger and probably more expensive as well, we recommend getting your cracked windshield fixed as soon as possible.

Is It Illegal to Drive with a Cracked Windshield?

This question can be a little tricky since different states have various regulations regarding driving with a cracked windshield. 

Generally, you can expect to be pulled over by police if your car has a windshield crack that is large enough to be in your line of sight when you are behind the wheel. Also, if your windshield has cracks that resemble a spider web, this too will most likely be illegal in the eyes of the law.

While state laws may vary, you should remember that there are federal regulations in place regarding windshield cracks.

According to federal law, motor vehicles are not allowed to have any chips or cracks in them that are greater than 3/4″ in diameter, which is pretty small. 

Thus, if you’ve got a large crack in your vehicle’s glass, getting it fixed right away is a smart decision.

If you are ticketed for a cracked windshield by police, you could be paying a fine in excess of $100, and also have as many as three points added on to your driving record.

In turn, this could possibly increase your insurance rates. So just as the small crack in your windshield may expand, so too can the potential consequences you may face if you drive around for weeks or longer with that cracked windshield.

How Bad Does a Crack Have to be to Replace a Windshield?

Fortunately, most windshields that are chipped or cracked can be repaired instead of replaced, which will save you a substantial amount of money. 

In fact, if you have a crack in your windshield that is up to 12 inches long, you can still most likely get this repaired rather than replaced. However, this may not always be the case, depending on the extent of the damage, age of your vehicle, and other factors. 

In almost all auto insurance policies, repairing or replacing a cracked windshield will be covered, meaning you will pay little or nothing to get your vehicle back in good condition. 

However, you will need to have comprehensive coverage for this to happen, so keep this in mind. Because of this, it makes little sense to drive around with a crack that could put your safety in jeopardy, cause you to get a ticket, and shatter when you least expect it.

If a crack extends more than 12 inches in length, you will have no choice but to get your car’s windshield replaced. 

While this may take a little longer than simply getting a repair, at least you know your insurance company will most likely foot the bill for the replacement. 

How Much Do New Windshields Cost?

If you have comprehensive insurance coverage for your vehicle and your windshield was cracked due to an event that is covered by your insurance policy, the good news is that the new windshield won’t be terribly expensive.

On average, most drivers who need a new windshield for their vehicle will find the cost to be anywhere from $200-$400, of which most or all of the cost will be taken care of by insurance.

Though you will certainly want to get your cracked windshield fixed as soon as you can, this does not mean you should go to the first auto glass shop you find and let them go to work on your car.

Instead, it’s best to shop around a bit before making a decision.

Factors that come into play regarding the cost of your replacement windshield include the auto glass shop you choose, the type of vehicle you are driving, the size of the windshield to be replaced, and even where you live. 

In older model vehicles as well as newer vehicles, the windshields are made so that they can be easily removed in most cases, meaning the repair is usually looked at as being somewhat simple. 

This is one major reason why the overall cost for replacement is so low, since the job itself does not involve substantial labor costs. 

Most of the time, you can take your vehicle to an auto glass shop, wait about two hours at most, and drive away with a new, crack-free windshield.

How Do You Stop A Crack in Your Windshield from Spreading?

When you first notice a small crack in your windshield, your primary objective initially may be to keep it from spreading and getting bigger. If so, there are some steps you can take that may help.

Once you notice the crack, you can try applying super glue or clear nail polish to the crack. Surprisingly to many people, we have found this is a very effective way to keep a crack from spreading.

Other drivers opt to get a windshield repair kit, which can be bought at almost any hardware store. 

If you choose this approach, be aware this will involve you having to drill a small hole in your windshield so that you can apply resin to the crack. If you’re uncomfortable doing so, you may want to let a professional handle the repairs.

Also, try not to subject your cracked windshield to sudden temperature changes, since this can increase the chances the crack will grow larger and cause more damage to the glass. 

Like many other things, glass expands in warm weather and contracts when the temperature drops. To prevent more damage, try to park your vehicle in a shaded area, and also refrain from using your car’s defroster until the windshield is repaired.

Why Shouldn’t You Drive with a Cracked Windshield?

Along with the fact that driving around with a cracked windshield increases the chances it may shatter when you are behind the wheel, there are other reasons why you should not drive with a cracked windshield.

As the crack gets bigger, this will allow dirt, moisture, sand, and other types of debris to seep into the crack. While this may not sound like a big deal, it is quite dangerous when you are driving. 

As more and more stuff enters the crack in your windshield, it can get distorted by sunlight. When this happens, you may be subjected to a sudden blinding glare that will make it almost impossible to see in front of you, which could lead to a serious accident.

Are Big Trucks Responsible for Cracked Windshields?

If you are driving down the road and are behind a dump truck, big rig, or other large truck that kicks up gravel that results in your windshield getting cracked, it’s unlikely the truck driver or the company for whom they work are responsible for paying the repair bill.

For starters, they will point to the sign on the back of their truck that warns drivers to stay a certain distance away from the back of the truck. 

Also, most state laws will only hold large trucks responsible for cracked windshields if rocks or other debris feel off the truck and directly onto your vehicle. 

If these trucks kick up gravel or have debris fall off the truck and strike the road before hitting your vehicle, they are usually not held responsible for your vehicle’s damage.

While most drivers never have to deal with a cracked windshield, you never know when the unexpected may happen. If it does, you now have all your questions answered as to what you’ll need to do next.

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Zach Reed

Hi, I'm the founder of! Having owned a wide variety of vehicles in my life, I was astounded at how hard it can be to find answers to common automotive questions. Rather than sit idly, I decided to create this website to help others!