Cracked windshield

I drive a 1995 Chevy Suburban here in Ca that has developed a 4 foot long crack in the windshield (edge to edge.) It does not obstruct driver’s vision. Is this truly a safety hazard? (Must I replace it - $$$$)

No, it’s not. The rest of the question is “can I get the car inspected with a cracked windshield?” Maybe, maybe not. Depends on your state. I have no idea about California.

Windshiels are not that expensive to replace. The chains usually have the best price; make sure you tell them it is not covered by insurance (if are paying it yourself), and the cost will little over half what they charge the insurance. I had the windshield replaced on a Caprice for $170 or so last year.

While a Suburban is a truck-based SUV and the widshield is not part of the vehicle’s structural integrity in the same sense that it would be in a unibody car like a Cobalt, I’d have to still consider a four foot long crack from edge to edge a safety problem. The windshield’s integrity has been breeched and could easily fracture to the extent of becoming a sudden visability problem. Fortunately, the windshield is a laminated safety glass so it won’t suddenly fragment into a million little pieces and disappear like a side window would.

Well considering that one of the windscreen’s functions is to help keep you inside the cabin in the event of an accident (if you don’t happen to have a seat belt on) I would consider it a safety issue. If you have any kind of state inspection, It is not likely to pass. Many times your insurance company will pay to have it replaced. Each company has their own rules and they vary from state to state, so you will need to ask them. Often a claim for windscreen replacement will not have any effect on your insurance rates. Do check with your insurance company. You are paying them plenty, get what you are paying for.

No, it’s not.

REALLY???..says who. ANY crack that TOUCHES an edge is NOT safe and MUST be replaced. The crack-fix places will NOT fix it.

The rest of the question is “can I get the car inspected with a cracked windshield?” Maybe, maybe not.

I don’t know ANY state that has a safety inspection that will pass this. Could you name one???

It’s not a safety issue. Well, it’s not a huge safety issue. The odds are pretty slim that it will turn in to one with the crack at its current size / position. But you are just begging to get pulled over and ticketed. Plus, that crack isn’t going to get smaller or stay the same, it’s going to grow, and eventually you will HAVE to get it replaced, so you will have the price of the ticket + the price of the windshield.

In all, it’s time to replace it and get it over with.

There is no “safety inspection” in CA and a single crack is not really a safety issue. I have NEVER seen a cracked windshield fail, shatter, explode, implode, or simply fly back into the drivers face. That’s urban legend stuff. The good news is, that should be a fairly cheap windshield to replace so shop around should you decide to replace it…

It IS a safety issue if the vehicle is equipped with airbags.

When an airbag deploys during a crash, the windshield acts as a backstop for the airbag. If there’s crack in the windshield, the sudden deployment of the airbag, along with the force of the upper body coming contact with the airbag can force the windshield out of its opening. Without the windshield in place. the airbag deploys out the windshield opening providing less protection of the driver coming in contact with the steering wheel/dash.


Contact your auto insurer. It might be covered. I replaced two windshields, and both were covered. I only had to pay $50. But the repair shop promised to waive the $50 if I came into the shop instead of providing the service in my driveway. I got both for free. Call your insurer. It’s worth a shot.

It should not be that expensive. Most windshields around here run about 225 to 280 installed and that ain’t bad IMHO.
Even back when OK had an inspection program there is no way in the world that windshield would pass; even with a lenient inspector who was willing to let some things slide a bit.

Personally I consider it a safety factory anyway. There is always the possibility that at highway speed the force on the glass combined with a sharp jolt from a pothole could cause it to give way and a face full of glass at 70 MPH is going to cause some problems.
The details are foggy, but it seems like about 10 years ago a windshield blew out of a pickup on I-35 here in OK but in this case it happened to go over the top of the truck and hit the trailing vehicle. Busted their glass and front end up, set off the bags, and nearly caused some fatalities.

This is a 13 year old truck. I’ve seen worse cracks than this on other vehicles on the road. It is NOT a safety issue. The windscreen’s integrity is far stronger than a single crack will hurt. It will not suddenly buckle and fail. And, if the airbag does go off, it will most likely shatter even a non-cracked windshield, anyway. But, laws being the way they are, you may get pulled over one day and issued a warning. When this happens, then get the windshield replaced. Otherwise, cruise on. I’ve had a crack in mine for 2 years, and even after my wife was pulled over a couple of times for various traffic violations, neither officer ever mentioned the crack.

I remember that story. But, the glass did not fail. The windshield frame was so rusty, the glass broke loose IN ONE PIECE. It shattered when it hit the car following it. Yeah, scary story.


Hmmmm. Interesting, but some key points:

  1. This is from an auto glass installer. Wants to sell you windshields. Will be biased to make a case for selling you windshield.

  2. Wearing seatbelts are far safer than depending on the windshield to keep you from being ejected. If your wearing a seat belt, then the possibility of ejection and injury are far less than depending on a windshield. Plus airbag deployment will most likely injure or kill a person not wearing a seatbelt in a sound car. Proven fact, especially for this vintage truck.

  3. This truck probably weighs over 8000 pounds. In a rollover, the windshield will NOT provide close to even 30% of structural strength. Ive seen these things rollover, and the windshield is the first to go. Steel is your best friend.

Groan… here we go again.

First off, most states will only fail you on a safety inspection for a cracked windshield if it interferes with the driver’s field of vision. Hence, they’re NOT failing you because the crack is reducing the car’s structural integrity. In my state the cracked windshield is the rule and highway safety is a major priority for our state government. If the cracked windshield really were such a safety problem, there would be a major campaign against them.

I can understand how major damage to a windshield, like a baseball through it or something, can reduce the structural integrity on some cars, but with laminated safety glass a simple crack from a rock chip or stress is pretty much a cosmetic issue. If you’ve ever handled a variety of old windshields, you can tell that the ones that only have cracks are still a big solid piece, wheras ones that actually have major punctures or impacts will fold and flop.

And the airbag backstop and windshield flying out on the highway stories would have nothing to do with the windshield being cracked, but with it being poorly secured. I suppose if one had their windshield replaced for every little crack, they would have fresh adhesive and seals, but it’s not a direct cause.

It has been proven that states with no “safety inspection”, like California and most of the Western states, have a better overall highway safety record that states WITH a safety inspection. You can not prove statistically that “safety inspections” make any difference in high-way safety…A single crack across a windshield is NOT going to change the course of history.

Another fact. In states WITH safety inspections, far more windshields, mufflers, tail-pipes, ball joints, brake jobs and light-bulbs get sold than in states without inspections. They are profit centers for the auto-repair industry. But again, all these windshield and repair sales make no difference in accident rates. If they did, insurance companies would DEMAND safety inspections. But they don’t, because they don’t make any difference…

First off, most states will only fail you on a safety inspection for a cracked windshield if it interferes with the driver’s field of vision. Hence, they’re NOT failing you because the crack is reducing the car’s structural integrity

I don’t think so…ANY crack in the drivers view will fail a safety inspection. A crack anywhere else that’s more then 6" OR touches the edge WILL FAIL a safety inspection.

I will only say that during a VW update school about the new models one of the service instructors made mention of the glass change that year and it being an integral part of the structure. If the German guys say it adds to structural strength that’s good enough for me.

At the local Air Force base here the T-38 supersonic jet trainers have very thin wings. The plane resemble a missle more than anything else. These wings could be walked on if necessary and are designed to stand up to high G-force maneuvers.
You know what gives them their strutural strength? Aluminum foil basically. The inside of the wing is comprised of a heavy aluminum foil honeycomb structure just like a bee’s nest.
If this method can stand up under 7 Gs and 800 MPH then why would something as rigid as windshield safety glass not be considered as adding to the structure’s strength?

There’s always the possibility of a pothole causing a windshield collapse or a bird strike. A windshield in one of my old Subarus was broken one morning at sun-up by a barn owl. Luckily, the owl hit the corner of the glass and this led to not only cracking the glass but wrinkling the roof strucure up a bit.
If that owl had hit the center of the glass no doubt it would have gone on through, so one can imagine a large bird of any sort hitting an already broken glass.

I caught a meadowlark in the chest one time on a BMW motorcycle while doing about 80 MPH and let me tell you there is some force involved there. Almost knocked the wind out of me and I spent 10 minutes on the side of the road shaking it off and picking feathers out while being left with a large bruise for about a week.

Well, it’s up to you. The problem with cracks is that they can cause significant glare for the driver from the sun (especially in the morning or late afternoon when the sun is low on the horizon), or oncoming traffic at night. This, in turn, becomes a safety problem for the other drivers on the road even if you aren’t concerned with your safety. As stated in other posts, the cost of a new windshield isn’t that high.