How to deal with damaged windscreens

How to deal with damaged windscreens
A windscreen can become damaged for a variety of reasons. The most common types of damage are chips, cracks and scratches.

While you can’t repair a damaged windscreen yourself, you can take car maintenance steps to prevent or sort your windscreen-related issues, before they become a big deal.

In this guide we will tell you all you need to know about windscreen damage and the law, so you can prevent or repair your car’s windscreen before it becomes a costly problem.

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How serious is a windscreen chip or crack?

A cracked windscreen can impede a driver's vision, making it difficult to see approaching traffic and other road hazards.

Even minor scratches and small chips can cause problems; making dazzle or glare from sunlight and other car headlights worse.

The windscreen of your vehicle needs to be kept in good condition, it does much more than act as protection from the wind and the rain - a clear and undamaged windscreen is vital for clear vision.

The windscreen is also an essential part of the vehicle's structure. Not only that, an incorrectly fitted windscreen could interfere with the performance of the passenger airbag in a car.

How do I stop a windscreen chip or crack from spreading?

If you notice even a small crack or chip in the windscreen of your vehicle, don't ignore it. The damage won't fix itself - a cracked windscreen is often the result of a chip that was left unrepaired and then grew into something more serious.

It is quicker - and cheaper - to get small damage repaired than a fully cracked windscreen, which will usually need to be completely replaced.

A chip can be repaired by injecting an epoxy or acrylic adhesive into it. This will seal the chip, preventing moisture and dirt getting into it. But larger cracks can't be so easily fixed - meaning you will then need more detailed cracked windscreen repair.

Best practice is to repair the chip or crack as swiftly as possible. Even if the damage is not in your line of vision, don't put off the repairs - a crack left unattended can quickly spread across the windscreen and result in a potentially costly replacement.

mechanic fixing damaged windscreen

While it's virtually impossible to prevent a stone from hitting your car, resulting in a cracked or chipped windscreen, there are some basic tips which can help with preventing windscreen cracks:

  • In colder temperatures, when windscreens are frozen, avoid pouring hot or boiling water on to the glass. Sudden changes in temperature can crack glass.
  • Replace windscreen wipers regularly to make sure they're operating properly and removing dirt and debris building up. This is recommended once a year.
  • Inspect your windscreen for any slight signs of damage and seeking immediate repair to avoid small cracks and chips becoming larger.
  • Drive carefully on road with poor surfaces and roads under repair to avoid stones and gravel hitting the windscreen.
  • Drive at a sensible distance from the vehicle in front

MOT due?

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MOT due?
MOT due?

Is it illegal to have a cracked or chipped windscreen?

Driving with a cracked windscreen can be considered a motoring offence. It could constitute use of a motor vehicle in a dangerous condition.

The Highway Code states that drivers should have a full view of the road ahead and glass should be maintained in a good condition. A cracked windscreen can obscure driver view - if a motorist is stopped, it could result in a fixed penalty of three points on their licence and a fine.

If you're driving with a cracked windscreen and you have an accident, you could be charged with a more serious driving offence. The accident could be your responsibility because you were driving with a damaged windscreen.

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Will a cracked windscreen fail the MOT?

A damaged or cracked windscreen could result in an MOT fail.

If there is windscreen damage of 40mm or more in size, anywhere on the windscreen, your vehicle will fail its MOT. And the crack will need to be fixed before being re-tested.

However, even a 10mm-sized damage on a cracked windscreen results in MOT failure if it falls within what is known as windscreen Zone A. This zone is the section of the windscreen that is 290mm wide and centred on the steering wheel - in other words, directly in the driver's line of vision.

zones for fixing damaged windscreen

If your car's MOT is due and you have a cracked windscreen or a chipped windscreen, you must arrange for repairs - or the vehicle will not be deemed as roadworthy.

A cracked windscreen is a common problem for drivers but if it happens to you, just ensure it is repaired as soon as possible. Don't forget, window glass cover is included as standard in RAC Comprehensive Car Insurance and 5 Star RAC Car Insurance Plus.

Can I claim for a windscreen replacement on my car insurance?

In short, yes you can claim for a windscreen replacement. However, there are exceptions to this and you should always speak to your insurer as soon as you notice anything.

In some cases, you can have your damaged or cracked windscreen replaced under your car insurance policy, without impacting your no claims bonus. But it will ultimately come down to the type of policy you have - always check with your insurer.

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