It may not seem like it, but the windshield and windows in your vehicle do more than allow you to see out of it - they play an important role in protecting both the driver and passengers in the case of an accident. When your windows are damaged, especially the windshield, it’s important to repair them as soon as possible to ensure their structural integrity, and to ensure that if you are in an accident, your windows will protect you instead of harming you.
So, how is auto glass designed to protect passengers in the case of an accident?
The type of protection a window provides depends on the type of glass it is made with. There are two main types of safety auto-glass that are commonly used for windshields and auto windows: tempered glass, and laminated glass.
Tempered glass is up to 10 times stronger than laminated glass and much stronger than your average piece of glass, but when it breaks, it can’t be repaired, only replaced. After a piece of glass is cut to size, it is tempered through a repeated process of heating with extreme temperatures followed by rapid cooling. After this process, tempered glass is more resistant to extreme temperature changes. When a collision occurs, tempered glass breaks into small oval pieces rather than sharp pointy shards.
Laminated glass, while not as strong as tempered glass, is what windshields are made of. Laminated glass consists of two sheets of glass with a piece of plastic vinyl between them. The idea is that if a collision compromises the structure of one sheet of glass, the vinyl will protect the other. For example, if stone from the road strikes the windshield, it might crack the outer piece of glass, but the interior of the windshield will remain in tact.
Why should you fix a cracked windshield?
Generally, it’s a good idea to have your windshield repaired or replaced if you notice a defect. Why?
It might grow. - What starts as a chip or a small crack will weaken the glass, making it more vulnerable to changes in temperature, pressure, or damage in an accident.
It can affect visibility. - One of the first issues, even with a small chip, is that it can get in the driver’s way! A chip or crack low in the windshield on the passenger side is the only one that might not affect visibility.
The cost might increase if you wait. - Small chips and cracks, especially those that are only on the outside of the windshield, can probably be repaired. However, if they grow or cause another accident, the entire windshield will need to be replaced.