Can a Vehicle’s Cracked Windshield Shatter?

The short answer to this question is yes- that cracked windshield of yours can shatter. However, there are several considerations involved, and in actuality, the term “shatter” may not accurately define what truly occurs to the windshield.


The glass in a windshield is laminated, which means it is composed of two layers of glass and a thin plastic film between those two layers. Occasionally, it’s referred to as “safety” glass, since its construction protects the glass from breaking into a heap of dangerous shards. As a result, it breaks into even tinier pieces.


Unfortunately, a crack in a windshield can potentially grow as the result of the glass expanding and contracting, due to a number of reasons, including pressure applied to the glass, fluctuations in temperature, a mass striking the glass, or dirt making its way into the crack. And, since the glass is already in a weakened state, any of these variables could worsen the crack, causing it to “shatter.”


But, the good news is, that even if the glass does end up shattering, it’s highly unlikely that it would collapse into your vehicle or onto your hood. Windshields are carefully made and held in place with the help of strong urethane adhesives. These adhesives help prevent leaks, noise, and the glass from moving. And, since the glass is laminated, you shouldn’t have to worry about the windshield glass separating from the frame.


However, this doesn’t mean that you should drive around with a cracked windshield. Even just a small crack can leave your windshield’s structural integrity compromised, making it a safety hazard both to you and passengers in your vehicle.  Even if you believe the crack is tiny and harmless, it’s crucial that you have a qualified auto glass technician examine it and determine if the glass can be repaired or if you will need a windshield replacement.



It’s never a good idea to drive around with a cracked windshield, no matter if it’s even just a short amount of time. It’s in your best interest to contact a reputable auto glass technician with an auto glass repair shop as soon as you possibly can. You always want to ensure that your vehicle’s safety is up to par for you and your passengers, and your windshield is a vital part of that safety system.



Believe it or not, there is a big difference between a windshield “crack,” and a windshield “chip,” as generally, a chip can be prepared. While there are many types of windshield damage, including bullseye, combination break, etc. – you’ll most often hear of a windshield crack or windshield chip. A chip is a more general term that is used to describe small damage to a windshield, while a crack is a distinguishable line that can be seen running across the windshield.


So, can a windshield crack be repaired? In some scenarios, yes. Traditionally, if the crack was larger than a dollar bill it couldn’t be fixed. But, today’s standard is that if it’s a small crack that’s not larger than 14 inches and not blocking the driver’s line of sight, it should be repairable by a professional with a repair kit.


However, the windshield will need to be inspected by an auto glass repair shop that can determine if a windshield repair will impact operation of the vehicle. If it’s a large crack that does, then the windshield technician will recommend an auto glass replacement for the windshield.



If it has been determined that there is a crack in your windshield, don’t wait to replace it. The biggest problem with vehicle windshield cracks is that they are likely to grow and worsen and could result in a windshield shatter. Since the temperature can cause the glass in the windshield to expand and contract, it’s risky to leave your windshield in this risky condition- so do not wait to get your broken windshield replaced.



The time it takes until your windshield’s crack starts spreading can depend on several factors. This can include temperature and moisture, dirt, and road bumps.



Think of your car’s windshield as a glass sandwich. There are two pieces of glass, with a layer of plastic sandwiched between them, meaning that there is room in there vulnerable to moisture. If water makes its way through the outer layer and into the crack, it can weaken the entire windshield and cause further damage to the crack.


Another variable that can cause further windshield damage is cold weather. For instance, if water gets into the crack in cold temperatures, it can freeze, which can lead to a cracked windshield shatter. In addition, cold temperatures can cause glass to contract, and in the case of a windshield crack or chip, the pressure can worsen the crack or chip, thus weakening the integrity of the windshield.


On the other hand, cold temperatures aren’t the only weather conditions you need to be wary of. The summer heat from the sun can also make a windshield crack or chip worse since it can increase the windshield’s temperature, and cause the chip or crack to expand.



Similar to moisture, dirt can also get into that glass windshield sandwich, which can weaken the integrity of the windshield. One commonly used temporary solution is using clear tape to cover the location of the damage until it can be fixed. This quick fix doesn’t obstruct the driver’s line of view and can work towards keeping dirt out. However, this fast solution does not provide the same result as a quality repair.



As much as you can try to avoid those dips and bumps in the road while you’re driving, sometimes, they’re just unavoidable. Unfortunately, this stress on the windshield can also cause any cracks to spread. While there isn’t a definite length of time that can cause a crack to spread throughout the entire windshield, one thing is for certain- the longer you leave the crack, the more likely it is that it will grow.



The best plan of action you can take when first noticing a crack or even just a rock chip in your windshield is to contact an auto glass repair shop right away. Michael’s Glass Co. is a full-service family-owned glass supplier and installer that can take care of your windshield crack repair in no time. Contact us at (215) 338-3293 for a windshield repair or a new windshield installed on your vehicle today.