When you drive, your windshield encounters a harsh environment. It has an important job to protect you from:

  • Flying stones
  • Bugs and dirt
  • Driving rain and snow
  • Even the occasional bird impact

Your windshield is a safety device as well. It provides structural integrity for your car and blocks you from being hit with everything that impacts your windshield. In an accident or rollover, a hard impact to your windshield can cause it to crack badly or shatter. If your windshield glass shatters, you might expect that you will be showered by shards of glass, but you won’t.

Windshields are made from safety glass

Modern windshields are made of a type of safety glass. It is designed so that, if it shatters, it shatters into tiny bits. The small pieces of shattered glass aren’t sharp as you would expect glass to be, hence the safety glass moniker. Your windshield is formed of two layers of glass with a plastic layer sandwiched in between. In a situation where safety glass shatters, the plastic layer of the laminated glass holds both layers together and all the small bits of glass remain mostly attached. In this way, the glass pieces inside your vehicle are almost non-existent.

Windshields are not easy to shatter. They require significant force like that of a severe front-end collision, rollover, or impact with a large object like a deer or moose. If your windshield glass shatters, you will likely have much more to worry about immediately than your broken windshield. If your windshield is shattered, it will need to be replaced for visibility before you can drive again.

This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as What Kind of Glass Are Windshields Made From? and was authored by Jason Unrau.


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