2 Overlooked Winter Windshield Hazards

Car Driving on a Snow Road – Chicago, IL – Aaron Auto Glass

Winter driving, whether it’s a daily occurrence or just an occasional need, can be hard on your car’s front windshield. There are concerns with both the road and the weather once the cold season arrives. Understanding the hazards can help you avoid them, or at least leave you better prepared to handle any damages that may occur.

Rock Chips

Icy roads can be hazardous, but so can the temperature changes as well as the gravel and sand that is sometimes used to add traction to the road on frosty days. You can’t control the de-icing methods that are used on public roads, but you may be able to minimize the damage caused by them when you drive safely and slowly.

Drastic Temperature Changes

Chicago winters can be harsh and sometimes have drastic temperature changes. If your windshield has a small chip, this drastic change in temperature can cause a small chip to spread. Other drastic temperature changes that increase the chanced of a windshield chip from spreading is turning the heat on and taking your car through a car wash.


Rock chips in the windshield is a common winter complaint. The gravel laid across the road to provide traction is kicked up by the tires of vehicles, which can cause it to hit your windshield and leave a chip. Leaving a lot of distance between your vehicle and the car ahead will help reduce the chances of a rock chip, although it may not eliminate the risk completely.

Fortunately, many gravel chips can be repaired as long as they aren’t located directly in the driver’s line of sight. Whether the chip can be repaired in this case depends on the type of chip, but those that measure between 5 and 30 mm are often repairable.


Sand is used instead of gravel for traction in some areas. It won’t chip your glass as gravel will, but sand can still damage a windshield. Most sand damage happens after the roads thaw out and the paving dries. The loose, dry sand can blow onto the windshield as you drive and sandblast the surface of the glass.

If the damage is caught early, your windshield repair service may be able to polish the glass to remove the haze. More severe sand etching may mean that the windshield requires replacement, however.

Furthermore, don’t use windshield wipers on dry glass to remove sand residue, since this just scrapes the sand across the windshield and increases the chances of etching damage. Instead, always squirt windshield wiper fluid over the windshield before you run the wipers.

Snow Loads

Winter weather can damage the windshield even if you aren’t driving the vehicle. Snow on a parked vehicle may also cause damage, especially if there has been heavy snowfall.


Wet snow can be very heavy. A heavy slush, for example, can weigh about 3.75 lbs per square inch, which means a snowstorm that drops 4 inches can put 15 pounds of pressure on your windshield. The more snow that falls, the more pressure and the greater the chance that the snow load may put a crack in your windshield.

Frequent snow removal during a snow storm, even if you aren’t driving, prevents damage. Otherwise, you may need a glass repair or a new windshield once the snow melts.


Snow can damage a windshield even when it isn’t directly on the glass. If you park beneath a tree, the heavy snow load up in the branches increases the chances of tree limb breakage. A falling tree branch can easily shatter a car windshield, so it’s advisable to find a different parking space away from the trees if heavy snow is expected.

Snow Luggage (Top of Car)

To help other drivers on the road it is always good practice to clean snow off the roof of your vehicle. Not cleaning this snow can severely endanger other drivers as the built-up snow on top of your vehicle will fly off and can hit another cars windshield.


Leaks aren’t very common, since all windshields are installed with quality gaskets and seals. Occasionally, though, these seals can begin to fail as the car gets older. Heavy snow that is left on the windshield can speed up the process of seal failure since the slow melting gives plenty of time for water to find a way through the aging gasket. Replacement of the gasket is needed once a leak begins.

Contact Aaron Auto Glass with any winter auto glass concerns.

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