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how to take care of your windshield in the winterWinter can be a truly magical time of year. From the beautiful snowy weather to the holiday season, winter is a time full of joy and fun. While this season is great for us, it can take a sizeable toll on our vehicles and our windshields in particular. Because the winter weather can be so detrimental to your car’s windshield glass, the glass experts at Smiley’s Glass in Richmond, Virginia have put together this post to help keep you educated about windshield care for the winter months ahead.

Windshield Chips and Cracks

There are numerous factors that can contribute to the cracking of your windshield glass. Windshield cracks often begin as smaller chips in the glass. Sometimes windshield chips are unavoidable, but it is still important to take precautionary steps to ensure that the chip does not grow into a larger crack in the glass. Large windshield cracks not only impact the integrity of the windshield glass but can also inhibit the driver’s view of the roadway.

In the winter, the primary way that windshield cracks occur is from temperature change. If you have a small chip or crack in your windshield, you may notice it getting larger each time you turn on your defroster or if there is a sudden drop in temperature outside. As temperatures change, glass expands and contracts. If it expands or contracts too quickly, you’re likely to see the crack grow right before your eyes. It’s imperative that you repair any windshield damage before freezing weather has the opportunity to further damage the glass because once cracks form, a more costly windshield replacement is necessary.

Windshield Ice

Another way that many windshields get damaged in the winter is due to windshield ice and most commonly, improper removal of windshield ice. We cannot say this enough. It’s important to always use a proper ice scraper. If you are improvising and using a spatula, CD, or an old credit card, you’re more likely to damage your windshield while trying to remove the ice. This is especially true if there is already windshield damage like a chip or a crack.

Some drivers also make the mistake of attempting to thaw their windshield using warm or hot water. This is never a good idea. Since temperature changes cause the glass to expand and contract, pouring hot water on a cold windshield can easily result in cracking and, in more severe cases, shattering. Drivers often defrost their windshields too quickly, which is another way that cracks and damage to the windshield form. The best method for defrosting is to turn your vehicle on and defrost on medium heat so that your vehicle can warm up slowly, limiting temperature change on your glass.

The most important thing to remember is to be patient when removing the ice from your vehicle’s windshield. Take your time as thawing the windshield to quickly, either with hot water or without, can result in damage to the glass. It’s also important to remember to remove windshield ice while standing to the side of your vehicle so that the scraper can glide along your windshield at the proper angle. It can be tempting to just clear one small sight line rather than taking the time to clear all the windows and windshield glass on your vehicle, but doing this can be dangerous and lead to auto accidents. We recommend clearing all of the glass on your vehicle before departing so you can stay safe on the roads during wintertime.

Window Fog

In the winter, many drivers experience foggy windows on the inside of their vehicle. Fog forms on the inside of your windows or windshield due to differences in humidity between the interior and exterior of the vehicle. If you get into your car on a cold winter day, the relative humidity is low outside of your vehicle due to the low temperature. Once you enter your vehicle, the humidity inside the car immediately begins to rise as you breathe out air that is roughly 100% humidity, leading to a buildup of fog on windows.

Fog is certainly annoying and frustrating, and the low-visibility conditions it creates also put you and other drivers at risk for becoming injured in a car accident. One of the easiest ways to prevent foggy windows in your vehicle is to turn off the climate control “recirculation” button. When this function is turned on, your vehicle will circulate air within the vehicle and cool and/or heat the air that is already inside, causing a sharp rise in humidity levels inside of the vehicle. By turning off this setting, you’ll have a much easier time of balancing out the humidity between the inside and outside of your vehicle. For more information about removing and preventing windshield fog, read our recent blog post.

Winter weather can take a serious toll on your windshield glass, but that doesn’t have to ruin the entire season for you. With these tips in mind, you’ll be prepared for anything and everything that may affect your windshield during the winter season. If you have a cracked windshield or other damage to your auto glass and need repair services, contact Smiley’s Glass by dialing (804) 320-7172.

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