An errant bird or flying rock nicks your windshield and suddenly there’s a chip or a crack. It can happen in the blink of an eye, and there was nothing you could’ve done to prevent it. The damage is done, but it doesn’t look too bad, or does it?

For driver and passenger safety, it’s important to know the answer to this question. What might look like a small crack in the glass might actually require auto window replacement, otherwise there is a risk of danger during driving. Assessing the damage done to the car is crucial. Consider the few tips below to decide whether or not your vehicle is good to go or no.

Determining the lifespan of a safe crack

We know you probably want to keep driving for as long as you can. Having your vehicle repaired isn’t always in the budget, so once you’ve determined the crack’s size, you might be able to keep on trucking. Generally, a crack smaller than a quarter or a crack longer than 12 inches can be repaired without having the entire windshield replaced. But if you’re hoping to stretch out that time before going into the shop, know that there are many risks associated with it growing in size. Avoid this by using the following tips:

  • Tape it up. You can prevent the crack from growing by keeping dirt and other debris out of it. Place a small piece of tape over the damage, but don’t let the tape obstruct your view. Use clear tape and no solid colors. If you use a solid color, it could affect your vision.
  • Avoid extreme temperatures. Another way you can save it from growing is by keeping it out of direct sunlight. If the heat builds up inside the car, it will cause the windshield to weaken or the crack to grow. If possible, park the vehicle inside an area where it is shaded. Be wary of blasting any heat or air. Turn your air conditioning or defrost on low. Severe or sudden changes in temperature could also cause the crack to become much larger.

Time to Take it In

If the measurements are small enough, make sure the crack is not obstructing your view. It may be tiny, but any damage to your windshield can still put you at risk. If the problem goes untreated, then what could be a small repair could lead to auto window replacement.

Any chip larger than a quarter in diameter or crack longer than 12 inches will probably require a new windshield. Don’t avoid this. Remember it’s dangerous to drive with a large crack on your vehicle’s windshield. Not only can it cause accidents, but it can also collapse on a driver who has been in a collision. A weakened windshield is not your friend.

Aside from damages, postponing the repair can also earn you a traffic violation. That’s right – some citations can cost a driver up to $250, costing more than a repair itself.

Don’t wait until it’s too late. When that rock or bird hits the glass, take it in to assess the damages. One knick could be a lot bigger than it looks.