We’ve been all about windshields here lately—between this hack for defogging them, and these instructions for cleaning them on the inside, even when it’s full of dirt, dust and other debris. Today, we’re talking about preventing your windshield from cracking when it gets super cold outside. Here’s what you need to know.
Why do windshields crack when it’s cold?
Let’s start with why this happens in the first place. For that, we’ll hand it over to Brian Turner of Driving magazine, based in Canada (so you know he’s an expert):
Windshields can crack if enough ice builds up at the bottom of the glass. If you take a close look at the bottoms of most windshields, you’ll find the lower edge is completely exposed, leaving a substantial lip on top of the panel below and beneath it. If the right mix of snow and slush accumulates in this area, a sudden drop in temperature can freeze it. It can expand and stress the glass to the point where it cracks.
How to prevent your windshield from cracking in the cold
Fortunately, it’s possible to prevent your windshield from cracking during bitterly cold weather (or at least decrease the chances of it happening). Here are a few tips, once again, courtesy of Turner at Driving:
Clear snow, ice and sludge off your windshield
Yes, this is common sense, but it’s important. And when it’s freezing out, you may not feel like taking the time to brush off the snow and ice that has accumulated. “This allows the expansion forces of any freeze-up to move upward, and not directly against the bottom of the windshield glass,” Turner writes.
Check your windshield wiper blades
Sometimes, you may notice a big chunk of ice and frozen slush covering the wiper linkage below the plastic grill panel. Usually, that panel is able to prevent this from happening, but given the right conditions (in relation to precipitation and temperature), it can still happen.
“Before you turn the wipers on, always check to see if the blades are frozen to the glass,” Turner writes. “If they still refuse to budge once you turn them on, immediately flip the switch off, and check for ice buildup under the wipers where the linkages sit. If there is, the easiest and safest way to take care of this is to park the vehicle in a heated space where the ice will melt.”
Warm things up
But if you’re not fortunate enough to have access to an indoor heated parking space, Turner says that you can also try warming things up with a blow dryer (although unless you’re in your home garage, that might be logistically tricky). The last thing you can try is to pour some cool (not warm or hot) water over the ice/snow/wiper situation and hope for the best.