How Do Ice-Free Windshields Work?

Our windshields serve as our defense against outdoor elements while we drive. And in the freezing cold, the idea of an ice-free windshield becomes heaven-sent.

Ice-free windshields are not new. They have been around for years but the technology is yet to be perfected. The first units have wires all over the glass to heat up the surface and melt the snow away. As much as this is effective, the wires are distractions for the driver.

 

Still, windshield makers are experimenting with various materials to improve the performance and visibility of an ice-free windshield.

 

How does it work?

 

Basically, an ice-free windshield has a heating element that will melt the ice or keep it from building up on the glass surface. This is typically placed in between the two glass layers of the windshield.

 

An ice-free windshield is every driver in Europe and American is dreaming of. By pushing a button, it will thaw or warm up the surface so they can drive safely without worrying about ice buildup.

 

However, there are no mass-produced ice-free windshields yet. Only Volkswagen offers this technology as of today.

The start of ice-free windshields

 

Back in 1985, Ford released the Instaclear and Quickclear auto glasses, a coming of age technology that will keep windshields clear. There were wires compressed in between two layers of glass.

 

As much as the ice melting technology worked, it also interfered with the GPS systems, telephone antennas, and radar detectors. Experts found out that the magnetic field on the wires was the culprit.

 

Aside from that, the technology consumes a lot of energy. It will shut down after 10 minutes in operation.

 

Another problem with older ice-free windshields is that the heating system on one side of the glass would stop working. This will cause half of the windshield to have zero visibility – a driving hazard during winter.

 

Lastly, the said windshield technology messes up with tollway recording tags. To make it short, both the European and American markets didn’t bite the idea.

 

The improved model

 

Currently, Volkswagen offers an improved ice-free windshield. It doesn’t use wires and old technology. Instead, there’s a thin silver layer that will heat up and defrost the snow.

 

In one push of a button, the silver – which is highly sensitive to electrical currents – will heat up. So far, this is the biggest breakthrough in ice-free windshields.

 

Aside from defrosting ice, the silver layer is also effective in deflecting sunrays. This way, your vehicle will be much cooler. And unlike the older Ford technology, this one consumes very little electricity.

 

This is currently available on select models including Tiguan, Passat, Golf Sportsvan, and Sharon.

 

Ongoing research

 

Aside from the exclusive technology from Volkswagen, a team of researchers at the University of Michigan discovered a special coating that may end your scraping days.

 

The rubber-based coating can be applied to various surfaces like auto glass, airplanes, and other equipment. This is expected to be 20% more energy efficient than other technologies.

The iceophobic coating is still under study. Still, the initial application will be on food packaging before they turn into automotive parts.

 

With the advancements in technology, it wouldn’t take long before an ice-free windshield will

Everything You Need to Know About Smart Windshields

Smart windshields are the latest talk of car town. But like any new technology, it has raised some valid concerns in the automotive industry. Are smart windshields safe? What are the benefits of windshields for the modern driver? Above all, when will they be available on the market?

Let’s find out.

 

What is a smart windshield?

 

A smart windshield, in the simplest sense, is windshield integrated with smart technology. It’s more than a protective front-view window for seeing the road ahead. It also acts as a screen equipped with “smart” features.

 

Smart windshields may be capable of displaying the following:

 

  • Directions for driving
  • Vehicle information
  • Sponsored advertising
  • Payment and ordering options
  • Online searches
  • Audio and video call

 

These are but a few examples of what smartshields can do. To illustrate its full potential, let’s say your vehicle is running on low fuel. In this scenario, a smart windshield can show…

 

  • The nearest gas stations
  • Directions to your chosen gas station
  • Fuel prices, discounts, and other offerings
  • Options to book and pay for refueling before you reach a gas station

 

How does a smart windshield work?

 

A smart windshield is like a smart TV. It displays information from a smart device rather than perform actions itself. This device, which can be a smartphone, tablet, or computer:

 

  • Contains pertinent data (i.e. personal details, payment information)
  • Will be responsible for performing prompt-based actions
  • Show information on the windshield for a wide-screen view

 

Are smart windshields safe?

 

It depends on who you’re asking. People opposed to the idea worry that it increases the risk for accidents. They argue it distracts drivers from focusing on the road.

 

Supporters of the smart windshield disagree. They say there’s no proof of these perceived risks. Car manufacturers have used windshields to show speed, acceleration, and fuel levels. And it’s been like this for more than a decade.

 

Furthermore, they argue that smart windshields are more likely to promote safe driving. For instance, maps and navigation can be shown on the windshield. This way, drivers can keep their eyes on the road and not have to look at their smartphone or tablet for directions.

 

In 2015, there was a spike in number of fatalities caused by vehicular accidents. These statistics were derived from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. According to NHTSA, it was the highest increase in fifty years. They attributed it to drivers getting distracted by smartphone apps.

 

Smart windshields can prevent these kinds of accidents. With the help of voice control technology, they can even save lives.

 

When can I expect smart windshields?

 

Jeff Evenson, the Chief Technology Officer of Corning Inc., thinks it will arrive in two years. Corning Inc. is the company responsible for the Gorilla Glass found on Apple’s iPhone.

 

Evenson revealed that automakers have been buying their glass to create smart windshields. He added that Corning is working on a version that displays information on the whole screen, and not only 10 inches across. Evenson also boasts an improved version of their glass. He says it will be thinner, lighter, and tougher than previous iterations.

 

Whether you like it or not, smart windshields are bound to arrive soon.

 

Don’t Drive for Long With A Cracked Windshield

A car’s windshield gives you a clear and unobstructed view of the road. By protecting you from elements such as dust and rain, you can enjoy better visibility. Windshields will also keep you safe from rocks and objects that may cause injury.

Needless to say, a windshield can take quite a beating. But that doesn’t mean it won’t break. In fact, it’s more likely to suffer damage than any other window in your car. Question is: Can you still drive with a cracked windshield – and for how long?

 

There’s no easy answer to this. Generally speaking, you can continue to drive with a damaged windshield. However, you’ll be running on borrowed time. And how long you can drive depends on how badly damaged the windshield is.

 

4 Things to Look Out For In A Cracked Windshield

1. How many cracks are there?

 

One or two should be fine, especially if they’re small. You can continue driving your car without risking further breakage. But if it has three or more cracks, you may not have long before it suddenly gets from bad to worst. All it takes is the right amount of force.

 

You have to understand that windshields with one-too-many cracks are vulnerable. The slightest touch, movement, or impact could cause them to spread across the glass.

 

2. How large are the cracks?

 

You shouldn’t worry too much if your windshield has a few, small cracks. You can still use your vehicle – with or without having those cracks repaired. But if you want to save money, you should consider getting them fixed.

 

Large cracks that are long or spread out have to be immediately dealt with. Most states have laws preventing you from driving in this condition. Your only option is to have your windshield replaced by professionals.

 

Note: Cracks that are less than 6 inches long are minimal and repairable. Anywhere between 6-12 inches (or more) means your windshield is beyond the point of repair.

 

3. Where are the cracks located?

 

Cracks found on the inside of a windshield are never a good sign. The same could be said if they’re on the driver’s side, irrespective of their size. In both instances, it would be best to have your windshield replaced as soon as possible.

 

Cracks located on the outer surface are easy to repair. It’s also better for cracks to be on the passenger’s side because it maintains a clear view for the driver. Either way, you can have weeks or months of driving. The best approach in this situation is to have your windshield repaired. That way, it won’t need replacement for a few more years.

 

4. Are the cracks getting worse?

 

Windshield cracks that worsen over time are a bad sign. It doesn’t matter if they’re small or relatively few. Nor does it make a difference if the cracks are on the outer surface or passenger’s side of the vehicle. A broken windshield with worsening cracks have to be repaired or replaced.

 

At the end of the day, you should consider having your windshield checked. Professionals would be able to recommend your next best step.

 

Why Don’t Windshields Shatter?

Have you ever wondered why your windshield doesn’t shatter completely during a major collision? Although the windshield may shatter, it will stick together to prevent the sharp pieces from going airborne. This is because modern vehicles are equipped with stronger windshields that sport a plastic film.

This plastic layer holds the tiny pieces of broken glass. During a direct impact, this plastic layer flexes and holds the glass in place. So basically, the glass shatters but it’s contained in this film layer. This is the reason why windshields are also called safety glass.

The hazard of plate glass windshields

The first cars ever produced didn’t use windshields. But due to the accidents brought by rain, wind, bugs, and other outdoor elements, windshields were installed. However, the glass used here was the same type used in household windows.

But as soon as more people purchased cars and discovered the harm of plated glass, they started seeking a safer version. As you know, plated glass can shatter easily with tiny bits flying into the air. This made it likely that passengers would get cut.

Another consideration here is that in the event of a collision or forceful impact, the passenger may fly out of the windshield made from plated glass. Deaths due to flying out of the car still happen up to this day due to poor windshield quality. It even has a name: “dying with a glass necklace” since most victims would be injured by the shards, not from the impact.

The creation of safe windshields

Ford was one of the first brands to innovate their windshield technology. But it wasn’t until a French chemist unintentionally discovered the power of cellulose that the present windshield was born. Edouard Benedictus was working in his lab when he suddenly knocked a beaker off the shelf. But instead of breaking into pieces, the shattered glass was held by the solidified content of the beaker.

It turns out that the beaker was left uncleaned with a cellulose matter inside. When the material fell, it broke but the cellulose matter prevented the glass from flying in different directions.

In 1905, Benedictus sought a patent for the new glass technology. However, it took many innovations and improvements by third-party companies before the present windshield glass is created. More than two decades after Benedictus released the new glass, Ford started using stronger glass material on their cars. Soon enough, almost all automobile manufacturers were using the same windshield material.

The plastic film

The safety film used in windshields is called polyvinyl butyral. This is sandwiched between two layers of glass that can also be used on windows and rear glass areas of a vehicle. Aside from adding the plastic film layer, the glass is also heated and cooled repeatedly to make it more durable. This is the reason why windshields are fairly difficult to wreck, in case you’ve tried doing so in the past.

Ensuring that your windshield isn’t prone to shattering will dictate the safety of your driving. Always fix cracks and chips as they occur to avoid bigger problems in the future.

 

Why Do Windshields Fog Up?

Have you ever experienced driving on a road with your windshield slowly fogging up? This is both a scary and alarming situation, especially if you’re driving at highway speed. The fogging can happen within minutes after you hit the road. What causes fogging and what can you do to prevent it?

Reasons for fogging

Most of the causes of windshield fogging are environment-related. Here are some of the possible culprits you should be aware of:

Heat. When it’s warm, more moisture is present in the air. As the heat lingers, the water molecule turns to gas which causes the fog on your windshield.

Humidity. So far, this is the most common cause of fogging. What happens is that water becomes vapor. Since you are breathing, your body releases this vapor. This can stick to your windshield, much so if there are multiple people inside the vehicle.

Condensation. Have you ever experienced fogging early in the morning? This happens when warm air hits your cold windshield glass. Condensation is more prevalent during hotter days and you have your car’s air-conditioning unit running.

Surface tension. This happens when tiny water droplets bond together and form a layer which will turn out to be fog-like.

What to do with windshield fogging

Fogging will reduce the visibility of the road which, in turn, increases your risk to accidents. It’s important that you know what to do when your windshield fogs in the middle of a busy highway. There are many easy steps you can take including the following:

Let the water evaporate

If the fogging is caused by condensation, you can simply turn the heat on to defrost the molecules. It’s like drying your clothes, but in this case, it’s your windshield. Evaporation will be an optimal solution if you get to act upon the fog the moment it forms.

In case the fog is too thick for the heater to evaporate, get off the car and wipe it with a dry cloth. After that, turn the heat on and let the remaining fog evaporate until your windshield is clear again.

Let the air get dry

When the outdoor temperature is too cold, there’s a chance that your body will cause the formation of fog. In this case, you can simply turn the heater on a warm setting until the air becomes dry and the fog will melt away.

This is a very effective solution during the winter season. If this doesn’t work, you’ll have to wipe the haze manually before using the heater.

Crack your windows

Since your breath can cause the fog formation, you can simply crack your windows during warmer days. This is so the outdoor wind can balance the temperature inside, thus reducing the chances of having fog on your windshield. If you can, turn off the recirculation setting for a while and the fog should go away.

To successfully remove the fog, it’s best to let the outdoor air circulate inside. Forcing the indoor air circulating won’t fix the problem. If all else fail, a defroster should be the long-term solution.

What to Do When Your Car Gets Broken Into

What will you do if one morning you discover that your car has been broken into? Across the country, property crime including car theft and break-ins are major concerns. As thieves target vehicles, the owners are becoming smarter and smarter in preventing the bad guys from pursuing their dark motives.

 

There’s no guaranteed way to secure your car 100% from thieves. However, you can do something to lower the probability of your car being the next target.

Always lock the doors

This is a no-brainer but many car owners keep forgetting to lock their cars before leaving. Regardless if you just grab something from the store quickly, it’s always necessary to lock your car. It will only take a thief a few seconds to take advantage of your naïveté.

The worse part here is that some car owners leave their doors unlocked intentionally. This is so there would be no broken windows or picked locks. Although this may sound reasonable, it exposes their families to potential harm, especially if private documents are stored in the trunk.

Park smart

Park your car in a well-lit and high-traffic spot. This way, thieves will think twice about targeting your vehicle. Doing this is important especially if you’re leaving your vehicle unattended for a few days.

Remove valuables from your car

The reason why thieves break into your car is that there’s something they want to get. You’re probably leaving your gadgets, money, and documents inside and on show. The rule here is to never leave a purse, bag, or suitcase in sight. Even if it’s empty, the burglar will only know once they smashed your windows and take a peek for themselves.

Also, never leave house keys in your car. Lastly, it’s not safe to leave electronic gadgets inside a car. It may explode and cause a bigger problem.

What to do when someone breaks into your car

Sometimes thieves won’t spare your car. Here’s what you need to do in the event of a break-in:

Call the cops. Don’t touch your car, even the handles, until the police officers have documented the crime scene. There might be clues or fingerprints that can track the suspect. If there are missing credit or debit cards, call the bank and have it canceled or frozen immediately.

Contact your insurer. There will probably be broken windows and missing valuables. You should file for an insurance claim to cover the repair expenses minus the deductible that you’ll have to pay for.

Take pictures. Even if the authorities have taken pictures, shoot a few snaps for yourself. This will be useful in filing an insurance claim.

Let your car be repaired. Never drive your car right after someone has broken into it. Have it repaired first. You’ll never know if the thief had pulled some wires. This is a matter of safety which your insurance policy will likely cover.

Break-in incidents are both expensive and traumatic. Still, you can take some proactive steps while staying informed whatever happens.

 

Removing Difficult Stains from Your Auto Glass

Your car gets exposed to stubborn outdoor dirt every day. At some point, you’ll notice stains on your auto glass which can be very difficult to remove. While DIY solutions may lighten the smear, they often aren’t enough to erase all of it.

However, not all car owners have the time and resources to seek professional removal. With that, we’ve compiled some of the experts’ advice when it comes to dealing with deep-seated dirt on auto glass.

Decals

If you just removed a decal, there’s a chance that some of it will stick on the glass. Although you can scrape this by hand, some of the adhesives may still linger. With this, you should soak it in soapy water first. Afterward, use a plastic scraper to remove the debris. Never use blades or metal scrapers since this might cause scratches. Wipe the glass with a lint-free towel once you’re done.

Window Tint

In the case of window tints, you need to use heat to get them off your auto glass. You have the option to use either a heat gun or a hair dryer to loosen up the window tint. Set the heat source at a high setting and point it two inches away from the glass. The edges of the tint should be easy to peel after this.

Always work in sections for a cleaner finish. If there is tint still lingering on the window, wipe it with WD-40 and a lint-free rag.

Spray paint

Did someone vandalize your auto glass? Spray paint might look like a big headache, but you can easily get rid of it. Using a plastic blade, scrape the layers of paint away from the glass. Make sure that you’re stroking the scraper in long and straight directions.

Once the majority of the paint is gone, apply acetone nail polish to the remaining spots. You can douche a microfiber fabric with the acetone and wipe it directly to the affected areas. Don’t forget to rinse your car with water after doing this.

Acid rain stains

Acid rain is known to cause expensive damages to cars. Also, it can leave hard-to-remove stains on the glass parts. To remove this, mix water and vinegar in equal parts. Apply the mixture using a microfiber towel then wipe it to the affected areas. Always wipe the glass clean each time you apply the vinegar and water solution. This is a cheap fix that works most of the time.

Tree sap

If you’re parking in an open area, there’s a chance that tree sap will fall on your auto glass. This stain can get really difficult to rinse off. But with the right cleaner, this should be a piece of cake. Apply diluted rubbing alcohol or a bug remover spray on the affected area then let it sit for a few minutes. Wipe it clean with a microfiber cloth afterward. Repeat the process until the tree sap stain is gone entirely.

Getting rid of stubborn stains doesn’t have to be expensive. There are some home remedies that you can use without ruining your car’s look.

 

How to Stop Your Wipers from Squeaking

So you’re driving on a rainy day when you start hearing a squeaking noise. Where is it coming from? It’s only when you turn the wipers off that you find out the problem. Squeaking wipers aren’t just annoying, the noise means that your wipers aren’t working efficiently. They might actually damage your windshield in the long run.

With the squeaking noise, you can’t relax on the road as it plays repeatedly in your ears. Even the music in your car won’t be enough to mask this unforgiving sound.

But what’s with all the squeaking? Here are the possible causes of the problem.

Poor installation

If you’ve just got your wiper installed or repaired, there’s a chance that the installation isn’t done properly. The main culprit here is when you let a store employee install the wipers right after you purchase them. Since these people aren’t auto technicians, it shouldn’t come as a surprise why your wipers are squealing like an unoiled door hinge.

Always seek the help of professional auto body shops in everything that you install on your car, including your wipers. And if the squeaking isn’t going away, drive straight to your trusted shop to have it inspected.

Contamination

Sitting dirt may cause your wipers to produce annoying sounds. Dust, debris, and small twigs can get stuck on the mechanism of your wipers, and if you don’t clean it regularly, your wipers will soon give off. Always clean your window glass and wiper blade with a commercial solution to get rid of the dirt. And since you won’t see all the contaminants due to the black color of the blades, it pays to drop by an auto shop once in a while.

There’s a high chance that your wiper blades are harboring loads of debris especially if you keep driving on a dirt road. Not just that, the gravel can also damage your windshield.

Manufacturer defect

In the case of new cars, squeaking wipers are probably a manufacturing defect. This is also the case when you purchased and install new wipers on your car. Even if the installation is properly done, a substandard wiper can still produce the same bothering noise.

Contact the seller and raise your concerns. If proven to be defective, you should be given a full refund or a replacement. In case the wipers are the original set, you should reach out to the car dealer where you purchased your vehicle. You might be covered by their special insurance terms.

Worn out rubber

Wipers don’t last a lifetime. In fact, you have to change it at least once a year, or in some cases, twice annually. The rubber parts of the wiper will soon become brittle due to continuous exposure to sunlight and moisture. The squeaking sound is just one of the telltale signs that your wipers are slowly losing their efficiency. The last thing you’d want to happen is having broken wipers in the middle of a snowstorm.

Wiper blades are affordable and replacing it won’t require you to take a day off from work. Invest in a replacement as necessary.

 

How to Recycle Broken Windshields

Although windshields are made of incredibly strong glass, it can still shatter in the event of a major accident. Falling objects and blunt force will also send auto glass shattering into pieces. After the replacement, the shattered glass can be turned into something else.

Recycling a broken or damaged windshield includes various processes. Still, a glass company made it happen by recycling 4 million damaged windshields so they won’t end up in landfills

Why windshield glass is special

Unlike the glass used on auto windows, windshields are made to be stronger. This is the reason why it’s also called the “safety glass”. Basically, a windshield is made up of two layers of glass that allows it to endure intense force and pressure.

In the event that the windshield shatters or breaks, a special plastic layer will hold the pieces together so they won’t go flying in the passengers’ direction. This plastic layer is called polyvinyl butyral which flexes instead of breaks whenever it experiences an intense force. Having these layers together is crucial to prevent the pieces of the broken windshield from becoming deadly projectiles.

Recycling damaged windshields

During the recycling phase, the glass will be removed from the plastic layer. The bare glass will then be grounded to its original form. It will be melted in order to create new glass products like bottles and other glass-based items.

This is done so damaged windshields won’t clog landfills and injure people who work around the area. As you may know, glass takes one million years to decompose. Instead, it can be turned into vases, bowls, glasses, and more. Even artists can use it in their work including sculptures, window art, and glass mosaic. And since windshield glass is durable, many people are looking for ways to use it in different applications.

Reusing damaged windshields is a recommended move. Thanks to advanced technologies, there are tons of ways to repurpose a shattered windshield.

Where you can send broken windshields

Usually, the auto repair shops will offer to dispose of your old windshield after the replacements and repairs are done. But if not, you can call your local glass recycling center and donate or possibly sell the windshield.

Your local recycling center may have access to bigger facilities that process this type of glass. Sending it to them is also a good way to reduce your carbon footprints and automotive waste in your area.

Environmental effect

It’s no secret that environmental concerns have been growing over the years. Although it’s just one broken windshield, you can take part in the advocacy to reduce waste and recycle what can still be used. Ask your auto repair shop if they have a program regarding the repurposing of old and damaged glass they collect from customers.

Also, damaged windshields can be melted and made into new auto glass. This reduces glass wastes while keeping the cost of replacements more affordable for car owners. This is an ideal situation for you, the auto shop, and the environment. So the next time that you’ll have your windshield replaced, consider sending the damaged one to a recycling center.

 

How to Fix Scratched Auto Glass

Are there annoying scratches on your auto glass? These little dings are easy to fix at home using a simple kit. The key here is doing early fixes to prevent the small scratch from getting bigger as you drive. Shallow scratches can be dealt with at home with the help of a few products. Bigger cracks will need to be repaired by the experts at an auto glass repair shop.

Here, we’ll discuss a short guide to erase the scratch from your windshield or windows:

  1.    The depth

Before you start unpacking your repair kit, it’s important to know if the scratch is amenable for home repairs. Try running your fingernails through it. If your fingernails are catching the scratches, it’s a sign that you need to reach out for professional help. Such deep scratches require the use of advanced equipment and not just a simple kit. It’s important to let the technicians handle deep scratches. Otherwise, you’ll just aggravate the damage.

  1.    Get the materials

If the scratches are shallow enough to be repaired at home, you need the following to have it fixed: glass cleaner, water, a drill with a rubber polishing wheel, a soft cloth, a dry-erase marker, a small spatula, and a bowl. Take note that the drill is optional together with the dry-erase marker.

As for the products, you can choose from these three options: baking soda & white toothpaste, clear acrylic nail polish or cerium oxide.

  1.    Prep the scratched area

Before you apply any product, clean the scratch with the glass cleaner and cloth. It’s important that no debris will get in the way of the DIY repair. And to make sure that you’re targeting the right scratch spot, outline the damage at the other side of the glass. The scratch will become harder to see as you progress with the repair.

  1.    Applying the product

If you prefer cerium oxide, dilute this in water until you have a glue-like consistency. As for baking soda & toothpaste, mix one tablespoon with a quarter of a standard tube. Mix this until all the baking soda is blended in a slurry.

Apply any of the products directly to the scratch and start buffing it. Usually, the nail polish won’t require much buffing. Repeatedly apply the product and buff the scratch until the surface is much smoother.

Remember, though, that you should be careful in applying the cerium oxide solution. It can cause more scratches if the product gets into other spots on the glass.

As for the buffing, always be gentle and slow. Remember, this is just a small scratch. Besides, you can repeat the application if need be.

  1.    Wipe it clean

Once you’re satisfied with the results, make sure that you wipe the glass clean of any of the products you used. In the case of nail polish, you’ll have to wait until it dries properly. You can wipe the entire window until there are no smears visible.

Again, this is only applicable to small scratches. For major scrapes, it’s best to let a professional handle it. This will save you more money in the long run.