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Windshields are designed to withstand a lot of punishment from the elements – not to mention your driving! But, at their core, they are still made of glass, which means they are susceptible to becoming more brittle in freezing temperatures. Learn more about how cold weather affects your windshield to help you prevent chips, warping, and cracking.

Why Do Cracks In My Windshield Come Out of Nowhere?

While it may feel like your windshield is cracking out of nowhere, nothing could be further from the truth. While your windshield can withstand a lot of pressure, it still has a tipping point. And that tipping point can be accelerated by extreme temperatures. When the temperature rapidly falls below zero, many previously pristine windshield will suddenly develop cracks. This is usually caused by a previously unnoticed crack or hairline fracture in the glass. Even a small imperfection like a chip can create a vulnerability in your car’s autoglass. 

When moisture gathers in that fissure and is exposed to cold weather, the moisture freezes, causing it to expand. This applies pressure at your windshield’s weakest point. And voila! A nasty crack. 

Why Did My Old Crack Expand Now That It’s Cold Outside?

As we mentioned before, moisture tends to gather in cracks and chips on your windshield. As the temperature drops, that moisture expands. Sudden plummets in temperature are the biggest cause of these types of crack expansions because the faster the drop in temperature the faster the expansion of the moisture and, therefore, the crack. 

So if you see on the weather channel that a sudden temperature drop is predicted, go ahead and move your car into the garage or wrap it up in a car cover – anything you can do to keep it warm. This can prevent damage before it becomes a major issue. 

Beware the Defroster 

Possibly nothing is more conveniently named than the defroster in your vehicle. When your windshield ices over, most of us just flip on the defroster and wait! It’s a modern miracle that we appreciate, to be sure. But you should remain vigilant because if your defroster heats the cold windshield up too quickly, it can cause friction and turbulence as the glass contracts too quickly. This can result in a crack. 

We should note that we are NOT suggesting you don’t use your defroster at all. They were developed to be handy in almost all winter conditions. They’re most likely to cause trouble in subzero temperatures. 

Maintain Your Glass

The best way to prevent cracking due to cool weather is to have your car checked for chips, cracks, and flaws before the first big freeze. That way, if you do experience any issues, they can be repaired before the big chill. Just remember – the leading cause of winter windshield cracks is previous, untreated damage!

Inspect your windshield regularly for chips, cracks, discolorations, and other imperfections during the winter months. Sometimes, even small pieces of gravel or salt chemicals that splash up onto the glass can cause enough damage to weaken the structural integrity of your windshield. In many cases, your insurance company will gladly pay to have your windshield touched up. They would much rather pay for minor repairs than a full windshield replacement!

For best results, keep your cars in a garage or covered port to protect your auto glass from the elements. If that’s not available to you, consider a vehicle cover or wrap! They can be a pain to put on and remove, but a little extra effort is worth not having to replace the windshield! Not to mention, if you live in a snowy area, you’ll save yourself hours of snow scraping each winter season!

If you have questions about your windshield or how cold weather affects it, contact Fast Glass Service. We’re happy to walk you through it!