Many people instinctively think about accidents when they see fractures in a car’s auto glass. The extent of the damage can be used to estimate the intensity of the accident, as both severe and minor events can rupture the windshield. However, accidents are not the only culprit behind your car’s auto glass developing nicks and cracks. In some instances, there may be debris on the roadside. When heavy objects such as rocks come in contact with your windows or windshield, the pressure can result in lateral or diagonal breakage.
Regardless of the cause of the damage, it wrecks the outlook of your car. The pesky questions it invites from friends and colleagues make you tired of repeating the same story multiple times a day. But most importantly, such cracks obstruct your line of vision, and the chance of more accidents skyrockets. Driving with this risk is also a legal offense that can result in a ticket or fixed penalty. Such problems call for windshield replacement.
However, to brace yourself against any potential accidents, you must be familiar with the fundamentals of auto glass. This guide addresses four main things everyone who owns a car needs to know about auto glass.
What Is the Purpose of Using an Auto Glass?
Although it seems likely at the surface, providing a structure to your car is not the only purpose behind windows and windshields. Their distinct shapes in specific models indicate that they add a lot of ornamental value to the design. But aside from the appearances, auto glass is also a fundamental safety component of a vehicle. A transparent and durable glass ensures a precise focus on the road and traffic while driving.
Besides, as the name suggests, the windshield also acts as a barrier between the driver and dangerous accidents that may occur. For instance, flying rocks may be kicked in your direction by the gushing tires of a car. Additionally, it acts as a foundation for the car roof, maintaining the structural integrity of your vehicle. During intense accidents, auto glass often guarantees that airbags inflate at the right time.
What Types of Auto Glass Are There?
Some onlookers may confuse an auto glass with ordinary glass, but they are not the same. If a cricket ball collides with a home window, the glass will most likely shatter to bits. However, the same ball and pressure will only produce some crannies in a windshield. It is because auto glass comes in different types with distinct quality, texture, and other characteristics. Not all of these are suited for the windscreen, as some are only apt for the rear window. Here are the two main types that you should be able to differentiate.
- Laminated Auto Glass
Car windshields have an extra secure laminated glass for safety reasons. It is more resilient than other types and can survive relatively higher pressure without exploding into pieces. It is also incredibly compact and layered. These added measures ensure some safety even when an unfortunate accident occurs, and the glass shatters. Manufacturers expose PVB (polyvinyl butyral), a resin, to high levels of heat and pressure to glue several layers of auto glass together. It keeps the glass shards from flying around, injuring and blinding passengers.
- Tempered Glass
This second type of auto glass is most commonly found in the door and rear windows. Its manufacturers rely on exposure to intense hot and cold temperatures to toughen the same glass instead of layering. Once a glass of appropriate size is cut and hedged, it undergoes a tempering furnace. Rapid heating and cooling harden it, making it very difficult to shatter. However, it is not entirely shatter-proof. On the bright side, when it breaks, it does not fragment into tiny shards. It turns into small pieces that are less perilous.
What Are the Possible Reasons an Auto Glass May Crack?
Aside from accidents, auto glass can also break in the following events:
- Installation Faults
In some instances, an auto glass might crack when a person shuts the door forcefully. A sudden break can also cause splits to develop. The reason behind such apparently unexpected damage is mostly installation faults. If the manufacturers did not install the windscreen and glass properly, internal pressure can easily disbalance it. One way to spot lousy installation is by watching out for any whistling noise that the glass makes while driving.
- Excessive Heat
Although both types of auto glass demonstrate good thermal insulation during tests, they are still prone to cracking due to excess heat. However, it is rare, and this heat has to be unnaturally high for breakage to occur. In some instances, it is internally generated by the car engine and amplified by vibrations that transpire on the road.
- Weather Conditions
Extreme weather conditions are especially hazardous for glass that already has splits and nicks. Windshields of cars in regions subject to thunderstorms and hurricanes are at a higher risk because debris in the wind can range from downed trees limbs to roofing material. Intense cold can also contribute to auto glass wreckage.
When Should I Consider Replacing My Auto Glass?
Depending on the intensity of damage, you may decide to repair or replace your auto glass. However, some situations indicate your vehicle needs a new windshield. When your car has to undergo formal inspection, and there are many chips and cracks in the auto glass, it may be wise to replace it in time. Otherwise, you could face legal charges for driving offenses.
Sometimes, a part of the glass goes missing during incidents, creating a gaping hole in the windshield. It exposes the driver to flying debris and makes it easier for others to break into the car. During rainy weather, the vehicle can flood with dirty water due to the windshield hole. Similarly, the winter season can also leave an array of cracks and splits into car windows and windscreens. Instead of waiting to repair it, it would be best to replace the auto glass in these circumstances.