Your windshield is one of the most important parts of your car, but it’s also one of the most likely to be neglected. After all, unless it’s absolutely filthy, you probably don’t pay attention to it much.

However, a windshield does a lot more than give you a clear view of the road ahead while protecting you from incoming wind, rain, and the hail that so commonly accompanies winter driving.

As such, it needs to be inspected regularly to ensure that it’s in tip-top shape; not just wiped down whenever enough dirt accumulates to catch your attention.

Want to know a little more about the finer details you’re probably not paying attention to? Let’s take a look.

The Importance of a Windshield

A windshield obviously makes driving more comfortable. How? It’s in the name.

It blocks wind from hitting you head-on and allows you to keep your eyes on the road. Naturally, it also keeps small debris out of your face such as bugs, dirt, or stray rocks that get kicked around by other vehicles. All of these pose threats to your safety.

However, the unique design of your windshield gives it a few other functions, too. It can prevent you from getting hit by larger objects even if the windshield itself breaks on impact. It can also form an easy escape route for you and your passengers in the unfortunate situation that you have an accident, your vehicle becomes submerged in a flood or other situations when your vehicle’s doors might not function properly.

How Cumulative Damage Works

As you have probably figured out, your windshield takes quite the beating every time you drive your car. It may look squeaky clean when you activate your wipers or wipe it down by hand, but all of the impacts it has been subjected to have almost certainly taken their toll unless you’ve taken extra care protecting it.

Over time, each pebble flung at your windshield and every smack from a tiny piece of hail collides with the glass, causing tiny chips and cracks. Windshields are tempered and laminated. So, these small amounts of damage aren’t always easily noticeable.

However, they add up and get worse over time. This cumulative damage that starts small and gets more serious with each tiny impact can eventually cause major problems.

The Most Common Problems Stemming from Small Windshield Damages

One tiny chip probably doesn’t spur you to contact a windshield repair service right away, but that chip can quickly turn into something much more dangerous without warning. Here are some of the things to keep an eye out for.

Cumulative Chips

If you ignore a minor chip here and there, eventually, your windshield will develop noticeable chips across its surface that you simply can’t ignore anymore. After having dozens of pebbles or hail impacts chip away, the small chips can be distracting, affect your ability to see clearly through your windshield, and worse, they can even begin to connect and break your windshield entirely.

Having these chips repaired as they inevitably happen will prevent costly damage in the future.

Spider Webbing

Unlike your car side windows, your windshield is tempered and laminated. This means that, upon impact, it will not shatter like a broken side window does. Instead, it will split into a spider’s web type of pattern, and the laminated layers will hold it together. Albeit, your vision will be greatly hindered, and you won’t have much protection against further impacts.

These “spider webs” usually start very small. A rock can lodge itself in your windshield, and a small spider web will spring up as the glass around the rock cracks.

If that spot is hit again, or any sort of stress is put on that part of the windshield, the spiderweb will grow. Eventually, it might break entirely, or the web might become so apparent that you can’t see properly. Either way, your windshield’s protection level drops dramatically the second a web pops up.

Seal Issues

Your windshield is connected to its frame via a rubber seal. This is because, if your door is jammed during a wreck, it’s meant to be kicked out from the inside. It’s a safety precaution that saves lives.

However, damage to your vehicle’s frame, or aging of the seal around your windshield, can affect your ability to remove the windshield in a life-or-death situation.

If your windshield shows signs of its seal rotting, or you’ve gotten into a wreck and the frame is contorted around it, it’s important to have that repaired immediately.

A Brief Guide to Inspecting Your Windshield

Inspecting your windshield isn’t a difficult task, but as you can see, you want to do it to ensure small issues don’t become much more serious in the future.

Here are the things you should look for to keep your car, and yourself, safe on the road.

  • Tiny chips
  • Lodged small objects
  • Spiderwebs
  • Cracks
  • Signs of rotting or tearing around the seal
  • Signs of frame damage near the seal

If your windshield doesn’t have any of those, you’re in the clear. If you find damage, contact a windshield repair service as soon as possible.

Don’t forget to check out these other tips on safe driving.