Car windows & windscreen cover

A tiny chip on your windscreen might seem a minor issue, but ignore it at your peril. If left untreated, over time the crack may widen and leave you needing to repair or replace the whole windscreen. And if your insurance policy doesn't include windscreen cover, you could find yourself facing a hefty bill.

Windscreen cracks are one of the most common types of car damage, and a major source of insurance claims. Often it doesn't matter what precautionary measures you take — chips and cracks are unavoidable. Luckily the expense isn't though. That's why it's always a good idea to prepare for the unexpected by ensuring you have additional windscreen cover.

The most common causes of windscreen chips and cracks include:

  • Road debris: On roads where there is a lot of debris (such as gravel roads, roads under construction and motorways), loose stones and small rocks can get dislodged by vehicles and bounce off your windscreen, causing chips and cracks. The faster you're driving, the greater the risk, as speed increases impact.
  • Direct impact: Even the most minor of road collisions can cause damage to your car windows or windscreen. And it's not uncommon for kamikaze birds to fly into the glass, either.
  • Temperature changes: The transition between hot and cold forces the glass to expand and contract, which over time can create small cracks in the length of the windscreen. Having the heating turned up to max when it's cold outside can increase the risk of temperature-induced cracks.
  • Weather: Severe weather, such as gales and thunderstorms, can dislodge debris from the road and blow it against your windows, while heavy hail pelting the windscreen, or ice falling on it, can also cause damage. Meanwhile extreme hot weather can warp the windscreen glass, causing cracks (luckily not something we have to worry about too often here in the UK).

When can a windscreen be repaired?

Sometimes it's possible for your windscreen to be repaired instead of replaced, depending on the size and location of the chip or crack. A windscreen repair can be carried out when:

  • The chip or crack is no wider than 28mm
  • The damage isn't within 6cm of the glass edge
  • If within the driver's field of view, the chip or crack is no larger than 10mm in length.

If the damage is more severe than this, the windscreen will need to be replaced. Don't be tempted to ignore it — your car won't pass its MOT if the crack is deemed to affect your safety.

How to care for your windscreen

While chips and cracks are often unavoidable, there's still plenty you can do to keep your windscreen in an excellent condition. Here are some tips on caring for your windscreen:

De-icing

When it's frosty outdoors, make sure you clear all ice and snow from your windscreen before you set off. Use a de-icer in a trigger bottle rather than an aerosol can, as they're more wind-resistant. Make sure you spray the de-icer from the distance recommended on the bottle and wait a few moments for the chemicals to work before using the scraper. Never use an improvised scraper (such as a bank card or driving licence) as sharp plastic edges can scratch the glass. And, of course, never pour boiling water onto the glass.

Wiper blades

Car wiper blades have a tough job, particularly in poor weather conditions. Generally you'll need to replace them at least once a year, or whenever they start making a noise, leaving smudges and streaks, or warping so they no longer make proper contact with the surface of the glass.

If there's a build-up of debris (such as leaves or twigs) on your windscreen, clear it off with wipes or your scraper, rather than relying on the wipers. This will help preserve the quality of the blades. During the colder months, lift the wiper arms up to prevent the build-up of ice — this will also stop them from sticking to your windscreen.

Keep your car's screenwash topped up at all times. Using a good quality screen wash will help to keep your windscreen clear all year round and can prevent ice from forming during the winter months.

Driving and parking your car

If you find yourself driving on a road where there is lots of debris, make sure you keep your distance from other vehicles to avoid stones flicking up onto your windscreen. Be wary of construction lorries that carry dirt and gravel and give them a wide berth when overtaking. Similarly, if any vehicles overtake you, slow down to let them pass.

Whenever possible, park your car under shelter and in the shade, as this will help protect it from bad weather, falling debris and direct sunlight.

Do you have windscreen cover?

Many drivers assume that windscreen cover is included as standard in their policy, but this isn't always the case. In fact, even some comprehensive policies don't feature windscreen cover.

If your windscreen needs to be repaired or replaced but you don't have adequate cover, you'll be expected to pay the full excess if claiming on your insurance and you could also lose your no claims discount.

Car window and windscreen cover comes as standard on our Hastings Direct and Hastings Premier comprehensive policies. There's no cover for windscreen repairs or replacement under our Hastings Essential policy, but you have the choice of buying windscreen cover as an optional extra. The same is true if you have third party or third party, fire & theft insurance — it's not included, but you can add it if you choose to.

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