Automatic Car Wash Cracked My Windshield: What to Do Next

July 8, 2024 by Sam Schlem

Automatic Car Wash Cracked My Windshield: What to Do Next

Discovering a cracked windshield after an automatic car wash can be frustrating. Unfortunately, it's a scenario that many car owners have to deal with. Here’s a simple guide on what to do if an automatic car wash cracks your windshield, ensuring you're fully informed and ready to assess the damage.

1. Check the Damage

First, take a look, carefully check your windshield to see how big the crack is. Is it a small chip that might not cause problems while driving, or is it a larger crack that could block your view and need immediate attention? This first look will tell you how quickly you need to act.

Small chips and cracks can often be repaired without needing a full windshield replacement. However, larger cracks, especially those that cross the driver's line of sight, usually need a full replacement for safety reasons. It's important to fix windshield damage quickly, as even small cracks can grow over time due to changes in temperature and vibrations from driving.

2. Call Your Insurance Company

After checking the damage, the next step is to contact your insurance company. Most comprehensive car insurance policies cover windshield damage, but you need to check the details of your coverage. Call your insurance provider and explain what happened. They will guide you through the process of filing a claim and setting up the repair or replacement.

When talking to your insurance agent, ask about any deductibles you might need to pay and what paperwork is required. Often, insurance companies have preferred glass repair shops or mobile services they work with, which can speed up the repair process. Your insurance agent can give you recommendations and help set up an appointment for the repair or replacement.

3. Know the Car Washes Disclaimers

Most automatic car washes have signs posted saying they are not responsible for damages during the wash. These disclaimers protect the business from many potential claims. While it would be nice if they offered to cover the damage, they usually don't have to.

Understanding this limitation helps manage your expectations. It's common for car washes to include disclaimers as part of their terms and conditions. This means that while it would be a kind gesture for the business to offer compensation, they are generally protected legally from having to pay for damages.

4. Tell the Car Wash Owner

It's important to inform the car wash owner or manager about the incident regardless of whethere they are responsible. While it's unlikely that they will pay for the damage, letting them know about the problem is a good idea. They need to know if their equipment is causing damage to vehicles so they can fix the issue and prevent it from happening to other customers.

Approach the car wash staff calmly and explain what happened. Show them pictures of the cracked windshield if possible. Taking photos of the damage right after the wash can be helpful. Even though the car wash may not take responsibility for the damage, reporting the issue ensures they are aware and can take steps to fix the problem if needed.

5. Decide on Repair or Replacement

Based on what your insurance provider says and how bad the crack is, you need to decide whether to repair or replace your windshield. Small chips and cracks can often be repaired quickly and cheaply. However, larger cracks usually need a full replacement to make sure your vehicle is safe.

When deciding between repair and replacement, think about these factors:

Size and Location of the Crack: If the crack is small (less than a dollar bill/under 6 inches) and not in the driver’s direct line of sight, it might be repairable. However, cracks larger than this or those that block the driver's view usually need replacement.

Depth of the Crack: Surface-level cracks might be repairable, but deep cracks that go through multiple layers of the glass often need replacement.

Insurance Coverage: Check with your insurance company about what they cover and any deductibles you might need to pay. Sometimes, the cost of repair might be lower than your deductible, making it cheaper to pay out-of-pocket.

6. Avoid Future Problems

To prevent this from happening again, think about hiring a mobile detailer or using a touchless car wash. Hand washing gives you more control over the process and reduces the risk of damage.

Touchless car washes use high-pressure water and detergents to clean the vehicle without touching it, which reduces the risk of scratches and cracks. While they might not clean as well as traditional automatic car washes with brushes, they are a safer option for your windshield.

Always check your vehicle before and after a car wash to catch any damage early. Before entering the car wash, look for any pre-existing chips or cracks and note their location. After the wash, carefully check the same areas to make sure no new damage happened. If you see any new cracks, report them right away to the car wash staff and take pictures.

Additional Tips and Considerations

While the steps above cover what you should do right after your windshield gets cracked by an automatic car wash, there are extra tips and things to think about.

Keep Records: Keep a record of all communications with your insurance company and the car wash. Write down dates, times, and names of people you spoke with. This can be helpful if there are any disputes or follow-up actions needed.

Choose Reputable Car Washes: When picking a car wash, choose reputable businesses with good reviews. Reading online reviews can give you an idea of other customers’ experiences and help you choose a car wash that takes good care of vehicles.

Know Your Rights: Learn about consumer protection laws in your area. While car washes often have disclaimers, there may be legal options available if you can prove negligence or faulty equipment caused the damage.

Regular Maintenance: Regularly maintain your vehicle to prevent damage. This includes keeping your windshield clean and free of debris, which can lower the risk of chips and cracks spreading.


While having your windshield cracked by an automatic car wash is annoying, following these steps can help you fix it quickly. By contacting your insurance provider and informing the car wash operator, you ensure the damage gets taken care of and help prevent future problems.

If you found this guide helpful, share it with other car owners who might benefit from knowing what to do in this situation. For more tips on car care and insurance, visit our blog regularly.

By following this guide, you'll be ready to handle a cracked windshield from an automatic car wash. Stay informed and proactive to keep your car in good shape, ensuring your safety and peace of mind on the road.

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