Damaged windshields are ugly and unsightly, but that's far from the most important reason to fix them. Your car's windshield is constructed from a special double layer of laminated glass that increases its strength and helps to protect you in an accident, but that doesn't mean that it's impervious to damage.
Once your windshield is chipped or cracked, changes in temperature or even the flexing of your car as you drive over uneven road surfaces can cause the damage to spread. If left unaddressed for long enough, a damaged windshield can become completely unusable. Even before it gets this bad, there are ways that a damaged windshield is impacting the safety of your vehicle.
Your Car's Windshield Is Structural
Imagine the cabin of your car with no glass. With the windows removed, your cabin's structure above the beltline doesn't consist of much more than the roof and relatively thin pillars. To help protect you in an accident and maintain the structure of the passenger compartment, your windshield is actually used as a structural element. Without a windshield, your cabin is more likely to buckle when hit. Even seemingly minor damage to your windshield can detract from its structural stability, making it more likely that occupants in your vehicle will not be fully protected in an accident.
Your Airbags Rely on It
You're reading that correctly: Your windshield is part of your car's active safety systems. When your airbag deploys, it does so with an incredible amount of force. If airbags deployed directly at the passengers in a vehicle, they would likely be more dangerous than the accident itself. Instead, your airbags deploy upward so that your windshield takes the brunt of the initial force. If the strength of your windshield is compromised, your airbags can further damage it when deploying. Even worse, they can fail to deploy properly, reducing their ability to protect you and your passengers when necessary.
Your Car's Technology Depends on It
Is your car equipped with fancy features such as a heads-up display or rain-sensing wipers? These convenient pieces of technology rely on your windshield being in good shape. Since rain sensors work by detecting the amount of light that enters through your windshield, any amount of damage can cause them to function poorly. This can have a major impact on your safety since they can fail to work at the right speed when it's raining or even activate when it isn't raining at all. Likewise, your HUD requires a clean, undamaged glass surface for proper projection. Damage near the area that the HUD projects onto can make its display completely illegible.
Windshields are more than just panes of glass – they are key safety features. If your windshield is damaged, it is vital to have it evaluated by a windshield repair professional as soon as possible.