Being A Magnet for Cracked Windshields
A small factoid about me: I am constantly traveling the southern California coast. Growing up in San Diego, then moving an hour north to the OC, meant that I was close enough to visit every weekend, while far enough to wreak havoc on my gas mileage. Factor in the small nuisance that I could not find a job within the year I took off between undergrad and graduate school, and you’ve got a full-blown commuter on your hands. This doesn’t even begin to describe my time in graduate school where I had to commute twice a week to Los Angeles from Orange County (a solid hour north), while picking up shifts at my old job in San Diego, all while trying not to completely burn up mentally from all of the road time.
Admittedly, I have a lot of respect for the people who commute farther and more often than myself, because it’s very draining on not just your energy levels, but your gas mileage as well. Flash forward to my last year of graduate school, in 2014, and my husband and I would up making our first big-kid purchase as a married couple: a new car. Sleek and black, our Mazda CX-5 2014 four-door is large enough for our future family, has these really pretty cream-colored leather seats (with butt-warmers!), and has some pretty killer gas mileage. On the road in this beauty and I was bound to be a warm-tush-touting force to be reckoned with.
That was until my excitement was dimmed less than 24-hours after driving away from the dealership. Everyone dreads the day that their new—or even old—car gets dinged with its first dent, or swiped by its first scratch, or in my case plowed over by a massive rock that came flying from nowhere at my brand new windshield. Okay, okay, I’m exaggerating, the rock was probably pretty small, and I never actually saw it, but the resounding crack was a total let down. Staring at the crack in my windshield of my brand-new car, I cursed myself for buying it. How could I? Why did I purchase a new car? Then, as my husband reminded me, I realized it was because of the gas mileage, and that lucky for me there are a multitude of ways to help out a cracked windshield, old and new alike.
Get Out and Measure That Sucker:
A lot of the time, as in my case, the crack looks much bigger—and worse—from the inside of the car. Measure your crack or chip: if the chip is smaller than a quarter, and the crack is smaller than 12-inches long you’ll most likely be able to get away without replacing your windshield. If it’s small enough, cover the offending eyesore with a piece of clear tape. This will help keep dirt and other debris, which might make a solution more difficult, out of the chip or crack.
Check the Weather:
What’s the forecast in your neighborhood like for a few days? Make sure that your car won’t be sitting through any extremes (i.e. no freezing cold, and no flaming hot weather). If you are going to be hit by an extreme (such as flaming heat in southern California), try and keep your car covered and cool (or warm as the case may be). Additionally, if you will be driving your vehicle, be certain to not blast your air conditioner or leave your defroster on high. These changes in temperature to your vehicle, while normally not an issue, can cause more damage and cause your chip or crack to grow in size.
Even if you’re planning on washing it at home, do not wash your car. Washing your car with a chipped or cracked windshield can put pressure on the malady causing it to increase in size, and worsen in depth. It also allows water to creep in directly into the smallest of puncture marks, causing the air spaces (that are tightened and sealed upon repair) to become wet and filled with liquid. Water in a cracked windshield can mean the difference between an easily fixable solution, and replacing your windshield entirely.
Common in smaller cars (I would know, our other car is a Yaris), slamming a door to hard, or pushing down too roughly on the trunk door, can result in the car shaking and becoming jostled. It also creates air pressure within the vehicle, and therefore your cracked window. In the time before your window is repaired, be careful to avoid slamming car doors, or putting too much pressure down as you close your trunk or even your hood.
While many sites these days will tell you that you can fill in a cracked windshield on your own (using things such as clear nail polish), it’s always best to use a professional. Avoid going to a general mechanic for window repair, and find an auto-glass repair specialist who will be able to offer you a warranty on the repair. These days, a lot of specialists will meet you at your home, and be done with mild repairs in as little as thirty minutes.
Pedal To the Medal
Driving a car is exciting, especially when it’s one of your first, but things like dings, scratches, and the unfortunate rock catching your windshield at just the right time happen. While some people—like me—have the instinct to panic and put their car up for sale on the spot, it’s important to realize that a small chip or crack is not the end of your car’s life. Following simple steps and investing in an auto-glass repairman can solve the problem for you in a pinch. So grab hold of your wheel, rev that engine, and pedal to the medal, baby, because that crack is whack.