VW Passat: Cracked it

  • Errant stone causes four-inch crack on windscreen
  • You could be driving illegally if you have a large stonechip
  • Include windscreen damage on your insurance policy

I've been engaged in illegal activity and I didn't even know it.

About three days ago, when I was driving the VW Passat home from work, I heard a very specific noise; the noise of a sizeable stone hitting the windscreen. I was travelling on the M1 motorway and when the 'thonk' happened I fully expected the screen to shatter because I was travelling at speed. But there was nothing, not even a stone-chipped mark so I carried on blissfully unaware that there was, in fact, damage.

The stone, or whatever it was, had hit the windscreen low down so it wasn't in my immediate eyeline. A couple of days passed, and then when I parked up outside the Parkers office on a bright, sunny day I noticed the sliver-shape that was blighting the glass. It wasn't easy to spot but after a closer inspection I noticed that it had extended to the edge of the screen in a kind of L-shape. The crack was about four inches long.

I was due to travel to Ascot that day and figured that I would use the Passat for the 100-mile journey and sort the windscreen out when I got back to the office a day later.

I told my colleague Gareth Evans what had happened when I got in and he told me he thought that it was illegal to drive a car with a crack in the windscreen that's any larger than a 10 pence piece.

He wasn't totally correct. Further investigations told us that you can't drive a car with a windscreen crack that's any larger than 10mm if it's in the driver's eyeline. Fine, it wasn't in the driver's eyeline, but the rules also state that you can't drive a car that has crack anywhere in the screen that's more than 40mm across. I had been driving illegally for two days because the crack was much longer than the legal limit.

So, it meant that the Passat had to be grounded until a replacement screen was fitted and I'd have to travel in another colleague's car.

The next day Nationwide Windscreens turned up promptly and spent about an hour replacing the windscreen. They told us an hour for the screen adhesive to dry is also required before driving the car, but that wasn't a problem.

The cost was £471.60 but that was included in the insurance, so our word of advice is to include to windscreen damage on your policy cover because if you don't you could be faced with a very costly repair bill.