Winter Driving Tips: Impact of Cold Weather on Windshields

When winter rolls around, most drivers are primarily concerned about icy roads and snow-covered landscapes. However, the cold weather can also significantly affect a component of the vehicle we often overlook: the windshield.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), an estimated 25,000 injury crashes and 374 fatal crashes occurred during wintry conditions in 2020. Furthermore, research from the American Automobile Association (AAA) revealed that winter storms and bad weather are a major contributing factor to road safety, responsible for nearly half a million crashes and over 2,000 road deaths each winter.

Cooler weather can also cause trouble for windshields, especially if they already have minor damage. For instance, if your windshield has existing rock chips, the dropping temperatures can cause these minor imperfections to expand. The science behind this is straightforward: the cold causes the glass to contract, which stresses any weak spots. In addition, the vehicle defroster causes a rapid expansion of the glass resulting in the existing damage to grow or expand. This expansion is more than just a minor inconvenience. It can often lead to larger cracks that spiderweb across the windshield. Once this happens, it's not just an aesthetic issue but also a safety concern. Cracks can obstruct the driver's view and compromise the windshield's structural integrity. In light of the statistics from the NHTSA and AAA, the importance of maintaining a clear and undamaged windshield becomes even more evident. Especially with vehicles equipped with Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems or ADAS, a simple repair might not suffice as a large crack on the windshield could impact the operation of those systems. Therefore, a complete windshield replacement could be necessary.

Preventive Measures for Windshield Care

The good news is that drivers can minimize the risks associated with cold weather and their windshields with some foresight and care. Here are some preventive measures you can take to protect windshield during the winter months.

Address rock chips promptly: If your windshield receives small rock chip or ding be sure and it repaired promptly to prevent it from spreading, especially before the cold weather sets in. By fixing these minor damages early on, you can prevent them from turning into larger, more costly cracks.

Check your wiper blades: The wiper blades play a vital role in maintaining visibility during snowy or rainy conditions. They won't clear the windshield effectively if worn out or not working correctly. So, replace any old or damaged wiper blades for a streak-free view.

Opt for winter windshield fluid: Regular windshield fluid might freeze in colder temperatures, rendering it useless. However, winter-specific windshield fluid is designed to withstand freezing conditions so you can always clear away grime or frost.

Consider protective treatments: Products like Rain-X or specialized car washes that offer protective coatings can be beneficial. They form a slick barrier on the windshield, making it harder for ice and snow to stick. It means less scraping for you in the morning and better visibility in adverse conditions.

Additional Tips for Winter Windshield Maintenance

Here are some more tips to enhance your winter windshield maintenance routine:

De-icer Spray for Convenience: Doors and locks can easily freeze during chilly nights, and could make entering your vehicle in the morning challenging. A de-icing spray lets you quickly melt the ice and get on your way without a struggle. It's a time-saving solution that every winter driver should consider.

Equip Yourself with the Right Tools: While some of you may have used credit cards to scrape off ice in a pinch, investing in a quality scraper can make the task much more manageable. Along with your winter survival kit, considering our reliance on mobile devices, keeping emergency power cords for phones in your car ensures you're always connected, especially during unexpected breakdowns or emergencies.

Clever Windshield Wiper Positioning: A simple but effective tip is to lift your windshield wipers away from the glass when you park. This prevents them from sticking to the windshield due to frost or ice. Not only does it make it easier to scrape off ice in the morning, but it also prolongs the life of your wiper blades.

Stay Stocked Up: It's easy to forget about winter specific windshield washer fluid until you run out. During winter, you may find yourself using it more frequently to clear away salt residue and grime and or de-ice a vehicle that’s frozen. As such, maintain an emergency supply in your trunk or backseat so you're never caught without it.

Routine Checks are Key: Just like you'd regularly check your vehicle's oil or tires, make it a habit to inspect your car’s heating system, antifreeze, wiper blades and windshield. On your wiper blades, look for any tears, cracks, or signs of wear. Damaged wiper blades can cause streaks and reduce visibility, so replace them as needed. Similarly, address any windshield imperfections promptly to prevent them from worsening in the cold.


Winter driving presents challenges, from icy roads to frigid conditions that strain even the best-maintained vehicles. By ensuring your vehicle is winter-ready, adopting safe driving techniques, and understanding the unique impacts of cold weather on various parts of your car, especially the windshield, you position yourself for a safer journey. Don't hesitate to visit Caliber Auto Glass for expert advice, maintenance, and care to ensure your vehicle remains ready for winter. Safe travels!