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Can I Drive with a Cracked Windshield?

July 10, 2023

A sudden rock flung from under the wheels of the truck ahead, a rogue pebble from a construction site, or a sharp drop in temperature. There can be unpredictable incidents that can lead to a cracked windshield, and quite often, it’s just bad luck. The real question that follows is, “Can I drive with a cracked windshield?” While the short answer is generally yes, the longer, more prudent answer suggests that it’s better not to.

Understanding the Severity of the Crack

When considering whether it’s safe to drive with a cracked windshield, the severity and location of the crack play a crucial role. Here are some factors to consider:


A small crack, such as a chip or crack less than the size of a dollar bill, may not pose an immediate threat. However, it’s important to monitor these cracks as they can get worse over time.


The location of the crack is also significant. Cracks that obstruct the driver’s vision or are in the direct line of sight should not be ignored.


Deep cracks that extend through multiple layers of the windshield are more likely to compromise its structural integrity.

Types of Windshield Cracks

Here are some types of windshield cracks:

Bullseye Crack

This type of crack is circular and often resembles a bullseye, caused by a direct impact from a rock or other debris. It usually has a single point of impact and radiates outward.

Star Crack

As the name suggests, a star crack looks like a starburst with multiple short cracks extending from a central impact point.

Half-Moon Crack

A half-moon crack appears as a semicircular shape, usually caused by a direct hit from an object.

Cracked Chip

A cracked chip is a small crack or chip in the windshield, typically caused by flying debris.

Reasons why you should not drive with cracked windshield

Cracked windshields can reduce visibility, increase the risk of accidents, and impair airbag deployment. It is illegal to drive with a cracked windshield in most states. If you have a cracked windshield, get it repaired or replaced as soon as possible. Here are some of the specific reasons why you should not drive with a cracked windshield

Impaired Visibility

One of the most critical reasons is that cracks can obstruct the driver’s line of sight, making it more difficult to see the road, pedestrians, and other vehicles.

Structural Integrity

The windshield provides significant structural support to the vehicle. In the event of an accident, a cracked windshield may not perform as intended, potentially leading to more severe damage or injuries.

Airbag Function

In many vehicles, the airbag system relies on the windshield to function correctly. When the airbags deploy in an accident, they bounce off the windshield to protect the passengers. If the windshield is already cracked, it may shatter on airbag impact, causing the airbags not to function correctly.

Ejection Risk

In severe collisions, particularly rollovers, the windshield can help keep occupants inside the vehicle. If it’s cracked, it may shatter on impact, increasing the risk of ejection.

Legal Consequences

Many states have laws against driving with a severely cracked or damaged windshield, and you could be pulled over and fined. It is crucial to check the local regulations and requirements of your area to determine whether you can legally drive with a cracked windshield.

Weather Protection

A cracked windshield might allow rain, snow, or wind to get into the car, which can be distracting and might even damage the interior of your vehicle.

Higher Repair Costs

Over time, a small crack can spread across the entire windshield, especially with extreme temperature changes or rough driving conditions. This can ultimately lead to higher windshield replacement or repair costs.

Resale Value

A car with a cracked windshield will likely have a lower resale value than one without this damage.

Shattering Risk

Although windshields are designed to be tough, a crack weakens the glass. Sudden temperature changes or a minor impact could cause the windshield to shatter unexpectedly.


It is always best to get a cracked windshield repaired or replaced as soon as possible if it is cracked. Your safety and your wallet will thank you.

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