If you have a damaged windshield, it is important to have it fixed or replaced as soon as possible. However, it is understandable that immediately replacing anything that costs more than a few bucks is just not always possible. In fact, a windshield replacement may require a large part of your paycheck, and because the cost is less than your car insurance deductible, you would have to pay the bill in full. If you cannot afford to fix the windshield right when it is damaged, you may be wondering just how long you can go without repairing or replacing it before things go from mildly problematic to downright dangerous.
A Chip in the Windshield
If your only problem is a chip in the windshield, you could probably go from a week to a month before that chip starts turning into a crack and the crack becomes a completely split windshield. After that, it could be dangerous if enough pressure is applied to the now-cracked windshield and the whole thing shatters.
A Single Crack in the Windshield
Cracks can remain as they are for weeks, with nary a change in their size or direction. Then one day, out of the blue, BAM! The crack starts moving again, changing directions, splitting off into forks, etc. Usually what triggers it is a change in temperature and/or water getting into the original crack and freezing. It helps to keep an eye on the weather so this sudden change in how the crack looks does not catch you off guard.
A Spiderweb Smash Pattern
If the smash pattern does not interfere with the driver's side of the windshield, you probably have about a week or two, tops. A windshield with this much damage is not long for this world, and you would be pushing your luck to leave it as is. It is also not good to drive around with this windshield in bad weather because the wind will press harder on the damage and make it worse, and the rain will leak right through. As for ice and cold temperatures, count your windshield a goner.
Completely Smashed but Not Collapsing
You cannot drive this way. Even if it is the rear windshield and not the front one, you cannot see a thing when a windshield is this badly damaged. You have no choice but to replace the windshield as soon as you can, or you risk having glass end up inside your car the minute you drive over a bump in the road.
Reach out to a windshield replacement service to get help now.