A vehicle’s windscreen serves multiple purposes that improve its comfort, safety and performance levels of your time behind the wheel. It protects you from debris and insects unfortunate enough to end up in your path, it keeps gale-force winds from assaulting your eyeballs on the motorway and it allows your car to cut through the air like a hot knife through butter. However, its position leaves it in a prime location to suffer some nasty damage, too. Here’s everything you need to know about driving (or not driving) with a cracked, damaged windscreen.
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Why Has My Windscreen Cracked?
This can happen for a few reasons, although in most cases, it will be the result of an impact. However, cracks don’t always immediately open up in a windscreen when debris or some other foreign object comes in contact with the glass. In fact, many times these kinds of cracks form from chips, tiny and sometimes even unnoticed blemishes on the outside surface of the pane. Chips are usually caused by stones being flicked up from the road by a vehicle travelling in front of you, usually at high speed on a motorway or dual carriageway.
But how do chips become cracks? Well, the UK is unintentionally very good at transforming tiny chips into full-on cracks in your windscreen for two reasons: potholes and cold weather. If you’ve got a particularly nasty chip in your windscreen, all it can take is a few deep potholes to shake things up a bit. The vibrations in the windscreen as your wheels hit those craters can cause a crack to form out of the chip where the glass has weakened. Any seasoned driver in the UK will know that our roads are full of potholes, so be wary.
The cold is another big factor in turning chips into cracks. The ability for materials to expand and contract certainly doesn’t help the glass on your car and can, in some rare instances, cause perfectly good windscreens to crack. However, if you’ve got a chip it’ll fill with moisture from the cold, wet air which will eventually cause the tiny imperfection to expand into a crack.
Improper installation of a windscreen can also cause cracking, as can the use of lower quality materials, while poor vehicle care procedures can also have a devastating effect. Ever seen a video of someone trying to de-ice their windscreen in a flash using a kettle full of boiling water? Look it up, but don’t try this at home unless you want to be replacing that glass shortly afterwards.
Is It Legal To Drive With A Cracked Windscreen?
This depends primarily on the position of the crack and how it affects the field of view that the driver of the car is working with. If the crack is right in your eyeline when behind the wheel, then no, it’s probably not going to be considered legal to drive the car. However, if it’s off to the side towards the passenger’s half of the car, it’s more likely that you could get away with passing a police car without being pulled over.
You must also consider the severity of the crack and whether it’s likely to spread or worse, lead to the windscreen completely failing and becoming a hazard in its own right while you’re on the move. This is because operating a vehicle on the road that’s deemed to be in a dangerous condition is actually a motoring offence and is punishable with a fine and three penalty points. If you’re involved in an accident while your car is in that state, you might even face sterner punishments if the condition of your windscreen is said to be the cause.
What To Do If My Windscreen Cracks While Driving
If you’re unfortunate enough to suffer a sudden crack to the windscreen in the middle of a journey, the first thing you’ll need to remember is to stay calm. The impact will shake you up, but you’re still in control of a fast-moving vehicle, so keep your head and slow the car down. When you can, park it safely. Once you’re stopped, put your hazard lights on and call a recovery service to retrieve your car – it’s not advisable that you should keep driving after such severe damage and sudden shock!
Would A Cracked Windscreen Cause An MOT Failure?
A crack in your glass will result in an MOT failure depending on the size and positioning of the damage. Any damage, be it a chip or crack, will fail an MOT if it’s at least 40mm in size, no matter where it is. However, chips or cracks as small as 10mm can mean failure if it’s in what’s known as ‘zone A’, which is the 290mm segment of the windscreen directly in front of the steering wheel and within the reach of the wiper blades. Everything else that’s touchable by the wipers is considered ‘zone B’.
What Is The Average Cost To Repair A Cracked Windscreen?
Repair jobs can be much more difficult with cracked windscreens than with chipped ones, so much so that often it’s both easier and cheaper to simply replace the glass entirely. Whilst fixing a chip can cost somewhere between £40- £120 depending on your vehicle, replacing a cracked pane is an entirely different kettle of fish.
On the lower end of the scale, you could expect to pay around £260 for a windscreen replacement, but if you’re a driver of a high-end model of car that only uses the finest parts in its production, this figure could reach dizzying heights around £1,350!
If those repair costs are making you question whether it’s even worth fixing up your old car, consider getting a quote from Scrap Car Comparison and see if you’re better off selling it! Using just your vehicle registration and postcode, we can find the best prices for your car offered by professional, fully-licenced scrap and salvage dealers in your local area. We operate all over the country, so no matter where you are in the UK, we’ll have someone on our network who’s ready to purchase your car, and they’ll even collect it from you at no extra charge! Use our scrap car price calculator or give our sales team a call on 03333 44 99 50 to find out the value of your old, unwanted or broken car now!