In recent years there has been much debate about the car manufacturers that have decided to switch from using tempered glass for side, quarter, and rear windows, to now using laminated glass.
Glass that has been tempered, has undergone a special heat and cooling treatment that makes the glass stronger and shatter resistant.
If the glass does shatter, it shatters in a less hazardous pattern that is supposed to reduce the risk of cutting your skin.
However, this is not always the case–which is why windshields are no longer made with tempered glass. (In fact, under federal law, all windshields must be made with laminated glass.) Since most side, back, and quarter windows of a vehicle aren’t likely to be impacted or break during an accident, this was not a primary concern of car manufacturers until the late 2000s.
The most notable benefit of using tempered glass over laminate glass, is that in the event that your car has become submerged in water, you can very easily kick the window out and escape the vehicle.
This can also be handy if for any reason you have a child that becomes locked in your vehicle, and you need to somehow get into the vehicle.
(On the other hand, having car windows made of glass that can be shattered in a more easy manner makes the job of vandalists and crooks much simpler.)
In the late 2000’s car manufacturers began to make the shift to laminate glass for new safety concerns. Primarily, the concern was preventing the passengers inside of a vehicle from forcefully exiting during an accident.
Being ejected from your vehicle is usually deadly, if not life-threatening. Your odds of surviving a car accident and having minor to moderate injuries, rather than serious or life threatening injuries, are much higher if you remain in the vehicle.
The process of creating laminate glass is much more complex than tempered glass. Essentially, after being created from a premium chemical cocktail of ingredients that create a strong glass, and then undergoing tempering treatments, 2 sheets of glass are then fused together with a layer of poly-vinyl butyral, otherwise known as PVB, between them.
This process is vital to creating laminate glass, as it was created with the purpose of preventing the glass from shattering and allowing a passenger to eject from the vehicle, in the event of a high impact accident.
Also, in the case of a rollover, properly installed laminate car glass helps make up a significant percent of the car’s overall cabin strength. This means you are much less likely to be crushed if your car rolls over.
However, if for any reason you need to escape from or break into your vehicle, laminate glass is nearly impossible to puncture by yourself or in a weak state.
Many car manufacturers believe that since events of escape and emergency break-in are far less likely than a high impact or rollover accident, that the benefits of using laminated glass far outweigh the dangers.
While it has not been mandated by law that all car windows and glass must be made with laminated glass, it’s likely that all of your car windows are built using laminate glass if you have a newer car.
Knowing that your car’s windows are a vital key to keeping you safe and comfortable as you drive, you may be more likely to make sure your windows are in tip-top shape the next time you drive. If you notice any cracks, pits, or chips in your car windows that are the size of a quarter, or larger, then it’s time to get them replaced.
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