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Camry, just over two years old. Today I noticed a long snaky crack in the windshield. I am pretty sure the crack wasn't there yesterday. There is no sign of the windshield having been hit by an object, and no chip, mark, or anything like that can be found.

The weather has been cold where I live (American South), but not terribly cold. Could the cold weather have caused the windshield to crack on its own? If that is the case is this considered a defect in the windshield?

I have leafed through Toyota's online warranty guidebook. Didn't find much information there. "Windshield" and "window" are barely mentioned in Toyota's warranty book. Is the windshield covered?

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    Have you called the dealer? If the car is 2 years old it may be covered by warranty. – GdD Feb 12 at 16:06
  • @GdD I will give them a call. I was under the impression I should be contacting Toyota for warranty-related things. Also I wanted to ask here to see if this is warranty-related to begin with. – Eddie Kal Feb 12 at 16:11
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    Cracks, in glass especially, form due to stress risers. As is stated in the answers, it can sometimes take what seems very little stress to cause it to crack. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Feb 12 at 18:48
  • @EddieKal usually you'll start at the dealer for warranty service. If they refuse under warranty, and you believe it should be covered, then you'd contact Toyota. As far as I know, cracked windshields will get you a ticket anywhere in the US (certainly in Cali). So definitely take several photos before moving the car, and it's up to you if you want to drive it, but for all safety and ease, I'd tow it if possible. – kyle_engineer Feb 12 at 19:22
  • where i live(norway)damaged windshield is covered by the insurance company,often at no cost to you(this is mostly for a windshield damaged by normal wear but it is valid for cracked screens too) – trond hansen Feb 13 at 10:08
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Mine cracked right across after being parked in hot sun for a couple of days (on private property so no vandalism). In UK that would fail the standard vehicle roadworthiness test and so I replaced it under the insurance for a small "excess" fee, without loss of claims status.

In UK, a windscreen (windshield) is a "wear & tear" item and isn't covered by warrranty unless it can be shown to have been defective.

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Likely residual stress plus thermal differential stress. Look carefully for a chip if an end of the crack goes to the edge of the glass ; Chips at the edge require less stress to propagate ( from fracture mechanics). Check your insurance policy, it may pay nothing or little after deductible. I saw a windshield spontaneously crack in cold weather as I began driving in bright/warm sunlight.

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  • "Look carefully for a chip if an end of the crack goes to the edge of the glass" - My dealership ran a ball-point pen along the crack and found a tiny chip near the edge. – Keith McClary Feb 13 at 3:59
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Windshields actually are an important part of a modern car's structural integrity, a crack mans it is weakened which is not a good thing, so this needs to be replaced. I do not know whether it is a warranty issue, you should check with your dealer, I would suggest that as there's no obvious source that the crack may be a manufacturing defect.

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Cracks can form on their own, especially if the glass is "worn". However, it is worth having a discussion with the dealer of the car, it is more unlikely to happen by itself on a new car.

However. There are things the driver does that promote cracks. Running the air heater / ac to clear ice of the windshield is a very common "mistake". This creates a lot of tension in pre-stressed glass. Especially if the temperature is very cold, the steel/body of the car contracts as well, putting strain on the windshield. Heating with "hot" air will propagate any cracks and can certainly induce new ones.

But as I said - on a new car... I'd check with the dealer. Might be you were unlucky, but might also be that it was chipped beneath the seal during installation.

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