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Windshield dings and don'ts

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(ARA) Minneapolis, Minn. -- Have you ever experienced the damage a simple pebble can do to your windshield when traveling at 55 miles per hour? What starts as a small crack, or ding, can cost you an entire windshield (which can run as much as $1,200) if you don't catch the damage early. Jim Olson, the resident "Ding Terminator" and director of training and development at the nation's largest windshield repair franchise, NOVUS Windshield Repair, offers the following suggestions for catching windshield dings early enough to initiate minor repairs and avoid costly windshield replacement:

Ding Detection.

The first thing you should do is find the impact point in your windshield. Examine the spot. If the spot has a cone, a circle deep in the glass or some little legs in the damage area that make it look like a star, you have a ding that needs repair. The spot will need immediate attention or it could develop into a long crack that will stretch across the entire windshield and require the replacement of the windshield itself.

Ding Band-Aids

Place a small piece of clear plastic tape (clear packaging tape works well) -- approximately one-half inch by one-half inch in size -- over the impact point on the exterior of the windshield. Do not place tape that will block or obstruct your vision while driving. The tape will not prevent the damage from spreading, but will keep dirt from getting into the cracks while you await repair. Repairing a ding can cost as little as $50, and most insurance companies will cover the cost regardless of your deductible.

Ding Don'ts

  • Don't use your defroster, the rush of hot or cold air could cause the ding to crack.
  • Don't wash your vehicle; the water will contaminate the damaged area and could cause a crack to grow.
  • Don't touch the ding with your finger or any tool. You could contaminate or cause the damage to spread.
  • Don't slam your doors shut. The excess pressure combined with the impact of the door could cause the ding to continue cracking. Leave a window slightly open when shutting doors.
  • Don't dig a surface scratch in the glass over the tip of the crack. This seldom prevents a crack from running and only causes additional surface damage on the windshield that can not be repaired.

Keep Dings Cool

Avoid parking in hot, direct sun. Leave the windows slightly open to reduce temperatures inside the vehicle -- hot windshields are weaker and tend to crack easier.

See a Professional Ding Terminator

Avoid contaminating the damaged area with a household glue or off-the-shelf , do-it-yourself windshield repair kit. Most of these home remedies do not work and will eliminate your chances of completing a quality, clear repair. Contact a professional to do it right the first time.

With more than 500 locations in North America, NOVUS is a leader in windshield repair. To be connected with the nearest NOVUS location in your area, dial toll-free 1-800-77-NOVUS. In Canada, consult your local telephone directory.

Now, here's the biggest tip of all. Any defensive driving system teaches you to allow plenty of room between your car and the one in front of you. The typical driver is way too close to the car in front. Even doubling the typical distance, the cars are too close. So back off.

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This will result in far less chance of windshield dings. More importantly, it makes everyone in your car much safer.

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