Can You Get Your Car Washed with a Cracked Windshield?

February 24th, 2021 by

A clean, scratch-free, and intact windshield enables you to clearly see the road ahead and reduces your chances of getting into an accident. However, a variety of factors can cause your windshield to crack, including road debris, bad weather, and a collision. If the crack on your windshield doesn’t obstruct your vision, you may decide to schedule service and have it fixed some other day. In the meantime, you’ll probably wonder if it’s safe to take your vehicle to the car wash. Find out below.

Can You Wash Your Car When It Has a Cracked Windshield?

A car windshield with a massive crack from something large impacting it.

Image via Flickr by b r e n t

Technically, you can have your vehicle washed with a cracked windshield. However, you may want to think twice before you do it. There’s a chance that the crack will spread if too much pressure is applied to the windshield during the washing process, leaving you with a bigger problem. Also, getting water into the crack can make the windshield impossible to repair and necessitate a replacement.

Will the Interior of My Car Get Wet?

It’s very unlikely that water will enter your vehicle’s cabin if you go through a car wash with a cracked windshield. Your windshield is made of a special type of glass known as laminated safety glass. This curved glass consists of two pieces of glass that sandwich a laminated plastic layer. In most cases, a crack on a windshield only occurs on one layer of glass, which is the outer layer. So, when your vehicle passes through a car wash, the water can’t get through the inner layer of glass, meaning the interior won’t get wet.

In the event that both layers of glass are cracked, there’s a high chance that the laminated plastic layer didn’t break during the impact. This layer is so strong that it’s even hard to break with a hammer. However, if a sharp or heavy object pierced through your windshield, then you should know that water will enter the cabin if you take your car through a car wash.

What Are the Risks of Washing My Car With a Cracked Windshield?

A close up view of a large impact on a car windshield.

Image via Flickr by Rich Anderson

Many people decide to have their vehicles washed with a cracked windshield. Some of them don’t see any additional damage to their windshields after the washing process, while others notice that the initial crack has become larger.

As mentioned earlier, car wash equipment can apply additional pressure to your windshield and cause the crack on it to spread. Additionally, small rocks that come into contact with your windshield may also worsen the crack. These rocks hide in the bristles of the brushes used to clean your vehicle, and they can hit your windshield as your car passes through the car wash.

Now that you know the risks involved in getting your car washed with a cracked windshield, you may want to avoid doing so. However, if your car is too dirty and needs a good cleaning, it’s recommended that you wash it by hand so that you can avoid putting too much pressure on the windshield.

What You Should and Shouldn’t Do When You Have a Cracked Windshield

Whether the crack on your windshield is small or large, you shouldn’t ignore it. Follow these do’s and don’ts to prevent further damage and keep yourself safe on the road:


  • Make sure you can see the road ahead: If you decide to put off repairing your windshield until later, you should only drive your vehicle if the crack doesn’t obstruct your view.
  • Keep your car away from the sun: Park your car in a garage or shady area. Allowing heat to build up in the cabin can further weaken your windshield and make the crack grow larger.
  • Protect against dirt: When dirt or dust gets into a crack, it can make your windshield harder to repair. Place a piece of clear tape over the crack to protect it against dirt, but make sure the tape doesn’t interfere with your vision when you’re driving.


  • Don’t ignore the crack: A small crack can spread if it isn’t promptly repaired, while a large crack can undermine your visibility and even lead to a traffic violation or accident. Don’t ignore the problem.
  • Don’t drive if you have a large crack: If the crack on your windshield is longer than 12 inches, you shouldn’t drive your car. Such a large crack may have compromised the integrity of your windshield.
  • Don’t jolt your car: Avoid slamming your vehicle’s doors when the windows are all the way up. This way, you won’t create extra pressure in the cabin that can cause the crack to grow.
  • Don’t turn your air conditioning or defroster too high: Extreme temperatures can worsen the crack on your windshield. If you have to defrost your windows, use the heater to slowly warm your car up.

Is It Safe to Wash a Car with a Cracked Windshield?

Technically, you can wash your car if it has a cracked windshield, but it might not be the best idea. Car washes, especially automatic ones, use high-pressure water jets and abrasive brushes that can put additional stress on the windshield, causing the crack to spread or the glass to shatter. The risk is that water can seep into the crack, weaken the structure, and make it worse.

Risks of Washing a Car with a Cracked Windshield

  1. Spreading Cracks: The pressure from car wash equipment can cause existing cracks to expand.
  2. Debris Impact: Small rocks or debris trapped in the brushes can hit the windshield, worsening the damage.


  1. Hand Wash Your Car: To minimize the risk, consider washing your car by hand. This allows you to control the pressure and avoid worsening the crack.
  2. Avoid High-Pressure Washes: Steer clear of automatic car washes until the windshield is repaired.

Best Practices for a Cracked Windshield

  • Do Not Ignore the Crack: Get it inspected and repaired promptly to avoid it spreading.
  • Keep It Clean: Protect the crack from dirt and debris by covering it with clear tape (ensuring it doesn’t obstruct your view).

How to Get a Cracked Windshield Repaired

The first thing you need to do when your windshield is cracked is to measure the size of the crack. This will help you determine whether you should repair or replace your windshield.

If the crack on your windshield is less than 12 inches long, you’ll most likely be able to have it repaired at your local service center. However, if you have a crack that exceeds 12 inches, you probably have to replace your windshield. Also, a windshield with a sizable crack in the driver’s line of sight may need to be replaced because merely repairing it can reduce clarity and visibility.

If you need to replace your cracked windshield, it’s essential to get a genuine OEM windshield that exactly fits your vehicle and provides the right amount of structural support. In an accident, your windshield provides almost half of the structural integrity of your car, making it a very important safety component.

If you’re looking for a reputable auto repair facility in Marion, Illinois, for windshield service, brakes, transmissions, and more, consider taking your vehicle to Volkswagen of Marion. With state-of-the-art equipment and factory-trained technicians, we’re able to help keep your car, truck, or SUV running at its best no matter who made it. Contact us today to make an appointment.

Posted in Know Your Vehicle