Major cracks in windshield - safe to drive?

So I’m not sure if this is better suited to GQ or IHMO, but here goes.

My car is less than a year old, bought new. Late last week, coming out from work, I noticed a crack in my windshield, about a foot and a half long. It started from the lower corner on the passenger side, going up at about a 45% angle. At the very lower corner, there was a small circular impact that looked like something hit it. Didn’t notice how it happened though.

So, I called my insurance company to arrange for a windshield replacement. The glass repair company came today (a nationwide company beginning with an S, if it matters). The guy said it would take him an hour or two.

An hour or so later, he called me to say that there was a problem. They’d sent him the wrong windshield, which didn’t fit. His manager was trying to get the correct windshield from the manufacturer, but it may take a couple of days. The repair guy put the old windshield back in, but in the course of taking it out / putting it back in, the windshield is now cracked substantially more.

There’s now a crack from the lower corner of the passenger side where the old one started all the way to the upper corner of the driver’s side, running right through my field of vision. There’s also a vertical crack running about the whole length of the windshield right in the middle, and one other long one on the passenger side. All the cracks are straight lines, no spidering (except at the small initial impact zone).

The repair guy said the car is safe to drive in the interim. He said all the cracks are in the outer layer of the windshield, and the inner layer is fine (I never knew windshields had two layers, but it makes sense).

I had no issues on the half hour drive home today. However, I’m a bit nervous. I am going on a trip this weekend, and expect to put at least 400 miles on the car. Maybe they’ll manage to get the new windshield by Friday noon, but if they don’t I’d really hate to develop a problem in the midst of rural Vermont.

So, what say you automotive Dopers? Should I err on the side of caution and shell out the money for a rental car, or am I overly worried and should I drive the car as is?

Take a look here:

Driving with a cracked windshield is illegal in some jurisdictions.

So long as the inner laminated layer is intact, it’s safe to drive (at least in terms of structural integrity, visibility may be a different story.) Generally if you get a big crack that goes all the way through, you’ll know it-- the actual geometry of the windshield will be noticeably tweaked. The glass companies do often try to imply that ANY crack is dangerous in a crash, but the vast majority aren’t.

If the glass shop managed to get your windshield out and re-install it, I can almost guarantee it’s fine structurally. If the inner layer were compromised, it probably wouldn’t have gone back in right.

Only if it impedes the driver’s vision. If it’s just on the passenger side or on the bottom of the windshield, it’s fine, although that doesn’t seem to be the case here.

The money quote in Duckster’s link is this:

I have no authoritative information to offer except that I once had a tiny crack a fraction of an inch long in my windshield, and one day it grew to almost an inch. When I took it in to a windshield shop hoping they might be able to repair it, it was deemed unrepairable – however, my comprehensive insurance covered the cost of replacement, from which I think one can infer that even the money-grubbing insurance company deemed it to be necessary. But you’re describing a crack “about a foot and a half long” and now more cracks appearing! :eek: I would venture to guess that (a) not only is the structural integrity of the car jeopardized, but (b) at this rate the whole damn windshield could fail!

if the crack is big enough you might get a repair ticket but you are getting fixed so not a problem.

try not to park in the sun or shock the window and you should be fine.

I’ve been driving with a crack for a long time and never had a problem. I’m poor and trucks deliberately drop debris on the highway in front of me fairly frequently. I’m not saying it’s a good idea, but I doubt it would be much of an issue during normal driving for the short period of time you are looking at.

Yes, problem if OP goes on a 400-mile road trip and gets a fix-it ticket someplace far away from home, ESPECIALLY if he’s out of his home state. At least in California, when you get a fix-it ticket, you have to go back to the police or sheriff’s office in the city or county where you got the ticket and show them that you fixed it.

There might be a fee or penalty too. I think California at one time had a $65.00 fee for any fix-it ticket.

ETA: It’s a total crapshoot. I drove with a cracked windshield for about 10 years, in several cities in about 6 different counties, without ever getting a fix-it ticket. Then one day, a cop pulled me over for allegedly running a red light. (Turning left just at the moment that the left-turn light changed from yellow to red.) After some discussion, he decided not to give me that ticket, but he wrote me up for the cracked windshield.

Fix-it tickets are AFAIK a California-only phenomenon. In most places things like a cracked windshield ticket would be a sort of de facto fix-it ticket in that if you went to court with proof you fixed it the judge will usually dismiss it, but the worst case is you’d have to pay the fine. It’s not like in CA where you can start racking up additional penalties if you don’t show you fixed it.

Do you have any documentation from the repair shop or your insurance company? You could get something in writing about the date the problem will be repaired and keep it in your glove box, if you’re super-paranoid.

I would not worry about the windshield shattering or flying off the car. The shop said it was safe to drive, and they would know better than anyone in this thread. And hey, if they’re wrong, just sue their balls off.

Windscreens have three layers. The two glass outer layers are under tension and the middle plastic one in compression. When a crack starts, the tension will gradually extend it.

Times have moved on since the early Mini, where the windsrceen would crack, or pop completely out, if you made the mistake of jacking one front wheel up.

Not dangerous yet. But very quickly, additional crack will form, and each one will reflect direct sunlight lika a tiny mirror, and with sufficient cracks, it will be unsafe to drive with all those tiny sun-bright reflections shining in your eyes.

There is no danger to your windshield caving in or anything, but the distraction afforded by numerous cracks can cause you to fail to see potential dangers on the road.

By the way, the “glass specialists” charge about twice as much to do a windshield, as a local body shop. Glass people will charge you the same as they charge insurance companies, which is a ripoff. A local body shop will buy exactly the same glass from the same source, but will have to order it, and you’ll have to wait a couple of days for it. But they will quote you a much cheaper rate if you tell them it is not an insurance job.

It also states:

I known nothing of windshields (except that mine has a huge crack), but this kinda sounds like bullshit. Can anyone verify that the windshield transfers energy during a crash?

Missouri requires periodic vehicle saftey inspections. Among the items checked are lights, horn, wipers, brakes, steering and suspension components, the exhaust system, and the windshield. Cracks in the windshield are allowable so long as they do not significantly impair the driver’s vision. This suggests that the structural integrity of a cracked windshield is really not a concern – if they thought the glass would break during driving there’s no way they’d let it pass.

Many insurance policies offer zero-deductible glass repair/replacement. You should take this coverage whenever possible, as 1) it doesn’t cost much and 2) it removes concerns like these from consideration.

You attribute a great more than due common sense to the people who make these laws. State laws differ, according to forces quite unrelated to how windshields obey the physical laws of the universe in the respective states.