Windshields or also known as Windscreens in the UK are sheets of glass used in Automobiles for protection and safety. A windshield is comprised of laminated glass and used to protect occupants and the vehicle inside the vehicle from elements outside of the vehicle such as water, snow, rocks, dirt, road debris, animals such as birds and bugs, deer, elk, bear. However if you hit an Elk or a Bear you are likely going to be killed or seriously injured. Windshields also act as a backboard for the air bag when it get’s deployed.

The windshield is also designed to keep passengers from being thrown out the vehicle in the event of an accident such as a head on collision. It also acts as a support for the vehicle in the event of a roll over accident. Having a windshield that is properly bonded to the automobile can make the difference between life and death if you end up in an accident.

Over the years windshields have changed drastically and every year new innovation and technology is continually evolving the progression of windshields. Newer windshields have Solar Coating to protect you from the sun by reflecting ultra violet light from penetrating the vehicle and by keeping the car cooler and also protecting the interior plastic and fabric components in the vehicle.

Some manufacturers are building rain sensors into the windshield which is an attachment that measures reflected light to periodically operate windshield wipers at a measured rate to clear the windshield. Condensation sensors which are devices that are used to combat misting and provide greater driver safety that work by utilizing infrared technology.

Additional features like antennas are being added to improve radio, cell phone and gps reception. Vehicles are incorporating Aerospace technology like Heated Glass and Heated Wiper Park Areas.

Heads Up Displays are becoming more common in certain vehicles. HUD is a newer technology that is similar to a movie theater projector it projects instrumentation information onto your windshield from your dashboard such as Speed, Gas information, RPM’s. This is helpful because it allows the driver to check this important data without taking his or her eyes off the road. You have to have a special windshield installed to have this work and it has to be installed correctly otherwise it will not work properly. If you are having this type of windshield replaced you need to make sure the technician knows you have this feature and let him know during the quote process so he brings the correct part with him for the replacement. Otherwise the standard windshield replacement will not work correctly.

Acoustical Glass is also newer technology adapted by auto glass manufacturers that helps reduce noise from the outside of the vehicle. This technology works by reducing sound waves from entering the vehicle from the outside by the use of an acoustical interlayer PVB (Polyvinyl Butyral) that is sandwiched in between the two layers of tempered glass. It’s not only used on windshields but can be used on other glass parts such as the passenger and drivers side door glass windows. It is important to know if you have acoustical glass installed in your vehicle because the Acoustical glass is designed to eliminate noise from the outside to improved voice activated systems within the vehicle. Acoustical glass also helps by improving the quality of speaker phones and the use of Siri on the iPhone. Basic Tempered glass has very little dampening and has “coincident” frequencies that can react and create additional background noise.

Acoustical Glass also makes a vehicle more difficult to break into due to having an additional layer of PVB sandwiched in between the two pieces of tempered glass. Some manufacturers are making their vehicles come equipped standard with acoustical glass such as the Ford Escape, Ford Mariner, Ford Expedition, Lincoln Navigator and Lincoln MKX ant the 2013 Lexus ES 350.

The three types of Windshield Glass are “OE” Original Equipement, “OEM” Originial Equipment Manufacturer, “ARG” Aftermarket Replacement Glass.

OE- Original Equipment Producer

This is the type of glass that was used when manufacturing your vehicle. It’s what was in the vehicle when it rolled off the lot.

OEM- Original Equipment Manufacturer- Original Equipment Manufacturer for certain makes but not necessarily for your vehicle. Certain OE Manufacturers are OEM’s for other vehicle manufacturers.

The only difference between OE and OEM is how the specification information is being collected. The OE gets the glass specs from the vehicle manufacturer while the OEM takes the part and reverse engineers it and then reproduces the reverse engineered part on a mass scale. OEM’s do this so well you would never really notice the difference in quality due to the quality control measures they have in place.

Aftermarket Replacement Glass

Aftermarket Glass is produced for all vehicle makes and models. Some companies call it Original Equipment Equivalent, some will call it Aftermarket Premium. It’s made using the same reverse engineering methods OEM’s use however the only difference is OEM’s produce some glass for vehicle manufacturers where Aftermarkets do no not. Reverse Engineering is basically taking a part, analyzing it by taking it’s measurements and then recreating it. The problem is neither vehicle manufacturers nor glass manufacturers will share their measurements or part specifications with these aftermarket replacement glass companies. Reverse engineering a part means the prototype part has to be completely flawless in order to replicate and mass produce a part that will fit with no problems. In some instances parts are reproduced and they don’t fit correctly and this will cause air and water leaks and problems when trying to replace your glass with an aftermarket part. They sometimes don’t fit the same making the moldings not work correctly or the parts to not line up properly during the install.

Joseph Newsome