Your car's windshield is exposed to a lot of hard use. It's pummeled by sand, insects, and other debris each time you drive down the road. UV rays, chipping off ice, and other weather-related stresses are also an issue. Knowing when your window needs either repaired or replaced is vital to ensure your car remains safe to drive. The following can help you make this determination.
#1: Check the seals
The seals and glue that holds your windshield in place can give out over time. Age, UV exposure, and just general weathering can all contribute to this. On a warm day, spray down the outside of the windshield with water. It should be warm enough so that condensation is not building up on the interior of the window. After spraying, check the inside of the window for any water coming in around the edges. Failing seals need to be fixed immediately since the entire glass pain can collapse inward if they completely give out.
#2: Monitor small chips
Chips happen, especially if you spend a lot of time driving on dirt roads or on the highway. Fortunately, many chips can be repaired so that you don't have to install a new windshield. As a general rule, small chips and bulls-eye style chips can be repaired if they are under the size of a quarter in diameter. The repair technician will inject a clear resin into the chip, which prevents it from growing larger and makes it nearly invisible to the naked eye. Failure to fix a chip can lead to a bigger crack that can't be fixed.
#3: Know your crack types
Beyond chips, there are two major types of cracks that occur in glass: branching cracks and spiderwebs. Spiderwebs or bulls-eye cracks that are more than an inch wide require windshield replacement. Since these consist of many spreading cracks in different directions, they will continue to grow until they reach the edges of the window. Branching cracks may have only one crack line or several. If they aren't in the line of sight, it can be tempting to ignore them. Unfortunately, they will eventually stretch across the windshield and compromise its integrity if you don't have it replaced.
#4: Switch out your wipers
Finally, make sure you change out your wipers before they wear out completely. Only blades can drag grit across a windshield, etching the glass permanently. Also, only use the wipers on wet windows, whether it is wet from rain or windshield wiper fluid. Using wipers on dry glass increases the chances of scratches.
For more help, contact an auto glass replacement company in your area.