What's The Difference Between Your Windshield And Your Side Windows?

You probably don't give much thought to your car's windshield, but that sheet of glass does more than just pull its own weight. Your windshield protects you during accidents, provides structural stability to your vehicle, and knows how to go out gracefully so that it won't shatter and injure you or anyone else. Your windshield isn't the only piece of glass on your car, however, and you may be surprised to learn that the other sections of glass on your vehicle use a much different construction. On a typical passenger vehicle, you can expect to find two different types of safety glass: tempered glass and laminated glass.

Understanding What's So Safe About Safety Glass

If you've heard the term "safety glass" before, then you may think that this refers to a specific type of glass. While safety glass is often used interchangeably with a variety of different glass terms, it actually refers to a broad category of glass types. Safety glass is used to describe engineered glass designed to withstand impacts and fail safely. When safety glass is damaged, it doesn't shatter into shards that can potentially harm those nearby. Unsurprisingly, modern vehicles exclusively use safety glass to protect their occupants in crashes.

Tempered vs. Laminated Glass

The two more common forms of safety glass found on modern cars are tempered and laminated glass. For most cars, tempered glass is used only on the side windows, while the larger front and rear windows make use of laminated glass. Although all of the windows on your car are designed to fail safely, the construction is drastically different. Tempered glass windows are constructed for their strength, and when they fail, they break into mostly harmless chunks instead of dangerous shards. This characteristic not only protects you in an accident, but it also allows first responders to break windows in order to remove trapped occupants.

Unlike tempered glass, laminated glass is two layers of glass bonded to a resin core. In an accident, the glass remains attached to the resin layer rather than breaking apart completely. By remaining mostly intact, your windshield can protect you from flying debris that would otherwise penetrate the passenger compartment. Flying objects are less likely to enter your vehicle from the sides, which is why it is less crucial for laminated glass to be installed on these windows.

Repairing Laminated Glass

Because your windshield is such an essential piece of safety equipment, it is vital to repair impact damage quickly. Even small chips can compromise the integrity of the glass, making it more likely to fail in an accident. Changes in temperature will typically cause damage to spread as well, so that small crack may turn in a catastrophic fracture if left for even a few days. Resin fills can be used to repair small chips and cracks, restoring the strength of the windshield and protecting it from further damage. Even if you don't think that the damage is severe enough to warrant a windshield repair, always have any problems with your windshield evaluated by a professional so that you can be sure your vehicle will adequately protect you in an accident.