You’re driving down the highway, classic rock on the radio, and you’re (safely) rocking out behind the wheel. That is, until the truck in front of you kicks up some debris and “rocking out” takes on an entirely different meaning. After being showered with pebbles, you notice a small nick in your windshield. But it’s not affecting your line of vision and seems safely relegated to one spot. So you put it out of your mind and keep rollin’. After all, a little chip is no big deal, right?

Well, maybe not initially. But over time, that chip could turn into a crack … and a crack can damage the entire structure of your windshield. In fact, according to research from Swansea Metropolitan University, 50 percent of chips crack within a year, 80 percent within 2 years, and 90 percent within 3 years. Considering your windshield provides up to 45 percent of your car’s structural integrity, it’s not something you want to gamble with.

To protect your windshield, keep these tips in the back of your mind.

Windshield protection tips

  1. Maintain a safe distance. Trucks lose objects from their beds and cars can send rocks flying, so maintaining a safe driving distance is the best way to avoid glass damage … and rear-end collisions.
  2. Avoid extreme temperature changes. Sudden temperature changes can create stress on your windshield. If your windshield already has a chip or small crack, turning on the heat or A/C in extreme temperatures could cause it to spread.
  3. Inspect your vehicle’s windshield on a regular basis. If you see glass damage, have it fixed as soon as possible to avoid further problems.
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Dealing with windshield damage

Of course, no matter how many windshield protection measures you take, sometimes an errant rock is just unavoidable. Here are some tips for avoiding excess stress.

  1. Repair rather than replace. Repairing a chip is less costly than a complete replacement. Generally, if the windshield damage is less than 6 inches, or the size of a dollar bill, it can be repaired.
  2. Find a reputable repair shop. Not all windshield blemishes need to be repaired. Do your homework and find a reputable glass company that will be honest about your needs. Ask your insurance company to recommend a trustworthy glass repair shop in your area. When choosing a company, make sure they guarantee their work.
  3. Don’t wait to do repairs. If repairs are necessary, the sooner you take care of them, the better. If you wait too long, the crack may become too large to fix and your entire windshield will need to be replaced.
  4. Be aware of scam artists. Unfortunately, windshield scams are on the rise. If someone approaches you offering to fix a chip or crack for free, don’t let them. Instead, get yourself to a trusted repair shop. (While you’re at it, learn more about these parking lot cons.)

Though windshield nicks are a natural part of a car’s wear and tear, always keep an eye out for new or expanding blemishes. If a small crack looks like it’s beginning to spread, take it as a hint to get it fixed. After all, even windshields have their share of good times and bad times. (And once you’ve got them cleaned, find out how to keep ’em clean and sparkly.)

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about Jessica

During her time as senior copywriter at Esurance, Jessica wrote about everything from automotive trends to insurance tips to driving dogs (it’s a thing!). In her free time, you can find Jessica hiking with her dog (who cannot drive), devouring a good mystery, or very slowly learning Spanish.