Illustration for article titled How To Prevent Your Windshield From Cracking This WinterImage: VeronikaZherdova (Shutterstock)

It’s been all about windshields lately – in between this hack to defog them and these instructions for clean insideeven if it is full of dirt, dust and other foreign objects. Today is all about preventing your windshield from breaking when it gets really cold outside. Here’s what you need to know.

Illustration for article titled How To Prevent Your Windshield From Cracking This Winter

Why do windshields crack when it’s cold?

Let’s start with why this happens in the first place. We are handing it over to Brian Turner from Travel 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 look closely at the underside of most windshields, you’ll find that the bottom edge is completely exposed, leaving a significant lip on the top and bottom of the fairing. If the right mix of snow and slush builds up in this area, a sudden drop in temperature can freeze it. It can expand and stress the glass to the point where it breaks.

This is how you prevent your windshield from cracking in the cold

Fortunately, it is possible to prevent your windshield from cracking in bitterly cold weather (or at least reduce the chance that it will happen). Here are a few more tips, courtesy of Turner at Drive::

Clear snow, ice and mud from your windshield

Yes, that’s common sense, but it’s important. And when it freezes, you may not feel like taking the time to brush off the accumulated snow and ice. “This allows the expansion forces of a freeze to move up and not directly against the bottom of the windshield,” writes Turner.

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Illustration for article titled How To Prevent Your Windshield From Cracking This Winter

Check your windshield wiper blades

At times, you may notice a large piece of ice and frozen slush covering the squeegee linkage under the plastic griddle. Usually this panel can prevent this from happening, but under the right conditions (in terms of precipitation and temperature) it can still happen.

“Before turning on the wipers, always check to see if the blades are frozen in the glass,” Turner writes. “If you still refuse to move after turning it on, turn off the switch immediately and check for ice under the wipers that hold the linkages. If so, the easiest and safest option is to park the vehicle in a heated location where the ice will melt. “

Warm things up

However, if you’re not lucky enough to have access to indoor heated parking, Turner says you can also try warming things up with a blow dryer (although this can be logistically difficult if you’re not in your garage). 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.