CAR CARE: Smart driving could help save your windshield from chips and cracks

Among the many great things about living in the Vancouver area is that drivers don’t have to worry about windshield rock chips as much as the rest of Canada does.

With less snow and ice on our roads, there’s less call for the sand and salt and rocks that are the ammunition often seen hurtling towards windshields in other parts of Canada gripped by a more vicious winter. But that doesn’t mean windshield chips are out of the question, and anyone who leaves the Lower Mainland this holiday season will most likely come across some situations in which they’ll be in the line of fire.

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Here are some tips on how to avoid the dreaded cracked windshield spider web:

Keep your distance

This may seem obvious but it is the most effective way to prevent rock chips. If you tailgate the vehicle in front of you, you are closer to spray zone for their rear tires and more likely to get hit by rocks and more likely to suffer a chip. A larger space leaves more time for a thrown rock to fall back to earth where it will bounce harmlessly away rather than slam into your windshield. Note that there are a host of other reasons why tailgating is a bad idea, but this just adds one more reason to keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you.

Note the vehicle in front of you

Big trucks are more likely to kick up rocks than small cars for a variety of reasons. The worst offenders are trucks that have four rear wheels rather than two. It’s simple math – adding two wheels doubles the amount of rubber on the road, making it twice as likely to kick something nasty into your windshield. Give these vehicles extra space or consider changing lanes if possible.

Check the mud flaps

Large trucks normally have mud flaps but some do not, while others have flaps that are broken. This can provide another hint that you may be in store for a rock fight. Large truck wheels not only kick up more rocks, they also have the ability to throw them farther than normal vehicles. Rocks flying off the back of a big truck have the potential to do a lot of damage to your windshield.

Slow down

The faster you go, the more likely it is that any rock or object that hits your windshield will cause damage.

Know your surroundings

Are you going through a construction zone? Has the road recently been sanded? Is there a truck pulling onto the shoulder? Are you crossing a gravel road? Be extra cautious if conditions make it more likely for debris to be on the road.

Nothing can completely protect you from getting chips in your windshield, but these simple tips can reduce your risk. As an added bonus, driving cautiously to avoid windshield chips will also reduce the number of rocks that hit the rest of your car, potentially saving your paint job.

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