New York State’s Laws on Windshield Damage

Most people are aware that they can get a citation for driving with a damaged windshield, but most aren’t familiar with the parameters of the law and what makes a crack or break unacceptable.

Since the Commissioner’s Regulations focus on maintaining clear vision and not the structural integrity of the windshield, they are lenient on the size, but not so much on the location.  The regulation states that cracks longer than 11 inches or “star breaks” greater than 3 inches are not allowed IF any part of the crack is within the area cleared by the windshield wipers.  So technically, it is completely within the law to have your windshield cracked all the way from one side to the other across the bottom, as long as it is under the wipers.  Legal, but not necessarily safe.

But lenient size restrictions does not mean that you can have a ten inch crack directly in the driver’s line of vision.  A separate section of state law dictates that no vehicle may operate on the roadway with glass that is broken damaged or discolored so that the driver’s visibility is obstructed.  While this code is much more open to interpretation, it would certainly restrict damage that could be a distraction to the driver.

Even repairing damage that falls within the “acute area” ( the area directly in front of the driver) is frowned upon by state officials concerned with driver safety.   Since repair of even very small breaks can cause a perceptible imperfection in the glass which naturally draws the eye away from the road to focus on the blemish.

Think of the last road trip you took where an insect was smashed right in your line of vision.  How many moments were you focused on or aware of the blob of bug juice in front of you?  Each of those moments spent glancing at the bug carcass was a precious second in which you weren’t focused completely on navigating your surroundings – and sometimes a second is all it takes for an accident to happen.

Windshield damage can be just a distracting as a dead critter, if not more.  That’s why you should have a qualified professional help you decide on the best course of action in dealing with your windshield damage.

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Can This Windshield Crack Be Repaired?

When it comes to cracks in a windshield the answer can be a bit trickier than when dealing with just a chip.   There are many widely differing opinions on the limits of windshield crack can be repair, but remember that safety should be the number one concern when considering the answers for yourself.  Anyone who has cut glass knows that the most common method for doing so is to etch the glass and then apply pressure – but how big of a crack would be safe in your windshield when under pressure?

While we generally would give the same size related answer – that if you can cover it with a quarter it can be repaired.   But even determining the size of a crack can be difficult, since we often find that the crack is much longer than it appears to the untrained eye. Continue reading

Can This Windshield Chip Be Repaired?

This is certainly the first question that most customers ask when they come into or call our shop.  Nobody wants to pay for a replacement if repair is an option, and frankly, we would be much happier to repair it for you than to throw another piece of glass in a dumpster.  There are several different types of damage that fall into the “repairable” category, some more complicated to repair than others.

The first and most common type of damage is the Bulls-eye.  This name accurately describes the appearance of this round, straight single impact type of damage.  And while this often looks like the worst type of chip, since a larger piece of glass has been removed, it is actually the easiest to repair.  But with a cone shaped bulls eye chip it is especially important to seek  a professional repair immediately since they are prone to collect water and dirt that permanently discolor the laminate layer inside the glass.

Another type similar in type to the bulls-eye in what we call the Angel Wings or sometimes a Half Moon, but is essentially a partial bulls eye.   While a bit more complicated to repair than a a traditional straight impact bulls eye, this type is still very repairable.  And once again, promptness is key in getting a good repair without an evident blemish in the glass.

Another type of damage that we see everyday on windshields is the Star Break, which are often, but not necessarily shaped like a star.  any small bunch of cracks centered on a single impact point would be considered a star break.  Since the cracks of a star break are at risk of growing beyond the point of repair, you can save yourself a few hundred dollars by contacting a reputable repair shop ASAP.

The most complicated type of damage to repair is a Combination Break, which has features of each of the types of damage we discussed above.  But if the damage is small (no larger than a quarter) and you contact us as soon as possible after the incident, it can generally be repaired without any visible evidence of damage.  While some insurance companies are more likely to set the size limit for repairs at 6 inches, we don’t recommend this.   Since the most important function of the windshield is keeping the driver and passengers safe, we don’t like to repair a windshield that has been compromised in it’s structural integrity.

The bottom line is – contact a professional auto glass repair shop to survey the damage as soon as possible.  The sooner you seek a repair, the less likely it is that you will need a replacement.

Windshield Chip, Scratch and Crack Repair

Ray Sands Glass loves windshield repair.  Not just because it’s our job, or that it makes damaged glass beautiful again.  It’s because it helps our friends in the Rochester community save money, and it is, by nature, the green alternative.  We believe that being green is an essential part of what makes a business an asset to its community, and this belief has motivated us to make a lot of changes around the shop and provide free repair to our customers – so they don’t wait until the damage becomes too extensive.

But we want customers to understand that not all damage can be repaired, and the limitations are dictated mostly by safety.  As a general rule, damage that cannot be covered by a quarter cannot be repaired, but there are some exceptions to this guideline.   Some smaller damage can be too extensive, or even too slight for repair.

A scratch on your auto glass can be an eyesore as well as an obstruction in your line of vision when driving.  And while light scratches can be fixed, the rule of thumb states that if you can feel it with you fingernail, it cannot be repaired.   The opposite idea applies to small nicks in the glass, often caused by flying highway debris, which can be too slight to affect the structure of the windshield or to fix aesthetically.

But even if you have doubts about whether or not your windshield damage could be beyond repair  we encourage all our friends in Rochester to come on in to the shop on June 12th.  We can take a look at it and if it is fixable we will do the repairs FREE on the spot.   If not we can schedule a replacement, either down at our shop, or at your home or office!   And remember this event is for charity so clean out those closets and storage spaces and come on in!