Auto glass explained

We’re often asked about our auto glass and what makes it so special, so we thought it was time to explain.

Auto glass may look and feel just like the regular glass that is used in your windows at home or any other type of glass, but it is substantially different. Auto glass is designed and manufactured with safety in mind; it works with your vehicle’s structure as well as other safety features to keep occupants of the vehicle as safe as possible.

Different types of auto glass

There are 2 main types of auto glass

  • Laminated Glass – typically used for the windshield (windscreen) of the vehicle
  • Tempered Glass – typically used for the vehicle's side and rear windows

Laminated auto glass

Laminated auto glass is created by fusing a layer of film (polyvinyl butyral) between two panes of glass using heat and pressure to make auto glass stronger than house glass, with different shattering properties. The layer of film is what allows the laminated auto glass to absorb impacts from debris and other objects that strike the windshield when the vehicle is moving. The polyvinyl butyral (PVB) also filters out about 95% of UV rays from the sun. The windscreen (typically made of laminated glass) also gives the roof additional structural rigidity and keeps it from buckling during an accident.

Tempered auto glass

Tempered auto glass gains its strength from a process whereby rapid heating and cooling processes are applied to a single pane of glass. When tempered auto glass breaks, it shatters into smaller pieces that are not sharp and cause less damage to the vehicles occupants than regular glass shards. Because of its strength, tempered auto glass can endure many of the pressures encountered during daily driving. Without this second type of auto glass, our cars would be filled with glass every time we hit a pothole, had a minor fender bender or simply closed the vehicles door.

Laminated and tempered auto glass each have different properties, but together they keep you within the vehicle should an accident happen, protect you from flying glass shards, retain the roof's solidity should your car roll over and even allow the vehicle's other safety systems like the air bags to work properly when deployed.

Cleaning your car's windscreen

Cleaning your car's windscreen is one of the easiest and most important car care jobs you can do yourself. A dulled or dirty windscreen not only looks unsightly, it can be a serious safety hazard. You may not notice how dirty the glass has become or how much it impairs your road vision until visibility gets very poor.

It is important to clean your car's glass frequently for safety purposes. The best part is you don't need expensive cleaners, and the process should not take more than 30 minutes.

DIY Professional windscreen cleaning 

Here are AA Auto Glass's top windscreen tips. 

  1. Wipe down the interior windscreen with a dry microfiber cloth. Spray the entire surface of the interior with an automotive glass cleaner available at any car parts store and some petrol stations.
  2. Using the clean side of your cloth, wipe the windscreen all around the top edges. This prevents dirt stuck in this area from travelling down and dirtying the glass after you've cleaned it.
  3. Switching to a clean cloth, spray the inside edges of the windscreen again and wipe them down. Now wipe the remaining middle section of the glass, spraying with more glass cleaner as necessary. Give the glass a final wipe over with a clean, dry cloth.
  4. On the outside wipe off one side of the exterior windscreen with a cloth. Spray the area with the glass cleaner and wash it off with a hose. Dry with a clean, lint free towel and then do the other side of the windscreen in the same manner.

Here’s a handy tip: Pour a little white vinegar onto a clean lint free cloth. Wipe over the interior and exterior windscreen with the vinegar to clarify the glass and make it sparkling clean.

Future of auto glass

Because laminated auto glass is so strong and durable, many vehicle manufacturers are considering its use for not only the windscreen, but for the side and rear windows as well. As an added advantage, theft by breaking a side window also decreases due to the toughness of the laminated glass. Laminated glass also reduces wind noise in the interior of a vehicle due to its acoustic dampening properties.

The main issue with having auto glass of the laminated variety fitted to all windows of a vehicle is that during an emergency when the occupants of a vehicle need to exit quickly, the laminated auto glass may prevent this. Due to its strength, laminated glass is far more difficult to break and remove than tempered auto glass, which can make escaping or removing an injured person from a vehicle difficult.

Both laminated and tempered auto glass are very strong, however, this does not mean that they are not vulnerable to cracks or chips. Cracks and chips reduce the strength and rigidity of auto glass as may obstruct a driver’s visibility.

To avoid potential issues, as soon as you notice a chip, scratch or crack in any of your car’s auto glass book online with AA Auto Glass or call 0800 300 120. We can take care of all your auto glass needs; we may even be able to repair it so it doesn’t have to be replaced.

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