How to choose the best type of glass for your car windows

February 21, 2023
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Although you might not realize it, glass is an incredibly varied term; different types are used for almost everything. From house windows to apartment buildings to eyeglasses, every type comes with unique specifications and is manufactured for various uses. Often, they are used in conjunction. 

Different types of glass work together in your car to keep you safe, and you can choose more types of glass for any specifications. Various types of glass include:

  1. Laminated Glass
  2. Tempered Glass
  3. Solar Glass
  4. XIR Glass 

Glass types used during car repairs are:

  1. Dealer Auto Glass
  2. OEM Glass
  3. Aftermarket Glass

Here’s a quick overview of when you might encounter these choices and what they mean.

Basics of Auto Glass

The two basic types of glass found in a newly-bought car are laminated glass and tempered glass. These types of glass are used in different parts of the car to protect drivers and passengers better. 

Laminated Glass

Laminated glass is found in a car, usually as the front windshield, because it can deflect UV light and is resistant to flying projectiles. It is chosen specifically for this part of the car because of its unique structure that affects how it breaks if damaged by a projectile or in a car crash. When laminated glass is punctured, it is designed to prevent shattering as much as possible to prevent further cuts to the victim of a car accident. 

Laminated glass is made by using pressure and heat to seal a polyvinyl butyral (PVB) layer between two pieces of glass. PVB is a strong binding resin that works to ensure that in the case of a break, the windshield does not shatter and injure those in the front seat. This is especially important in the case of airbags, which are designed to bounce off the windshield with a substantial amount of force as they inflate. Your windshield must be able to sustain the force of the airbag even after the accident that triggers its deployment. 

Tempered Glass

Tempered glass is used in a car’s side and rear windows and is significantly stronger and more projectile-resistant than regular glass. Manufacturers heat and then rapidly cool the glass back to room temperature to temper glass. The reason for this quick temperature change is that, due to the uneven thickness of the glass from edge to center, the surface cools faster than the center. The surface contracts into itself and leads to compressive stress. At the same time, the center that is still hot expands from residual heat and produces tensile strength. 

This means that the center of the glass is very strong, but the edges are fragile. This type of glass, if hit in a weak spot, will shatter into small, fragmented pieces rather than the larger shards of typical glass. Tempered glass is sanded down around the edges to reduce the number of weak spots before installation. However, the windows need to remain breakable to allow for those inside the car to escape in an emergency, such as if they are underwater or if the doors are damaged enough to prevent opening during a roll or other kind of accident. 

Specialized Auto Glass

Specialized auto glass can be bought to customize your car to your specific needs. The most popular ones are solar glass and XIR glass. 

Solar Glass 

Solar glass, sometimes referred to as solar control glass, is a particular type of glass designed to reduce how much heat can enter the vehicle. This keeps the interior cooler as the higher iron content absorbs the heat. Especially useful in hotter climates, this addition is intended for the laminated glass of a windshield. It has many benefits, including:

Improved Fuel Efficiency 

With the windshield keeping the car cooler, you can reduce your AC usage and save energy, improving fuel efficiency, lowering emissions, and saving you money. 

Longer Upholstery Life 

Repeated exposure to harsh and damaging UV rays can alter the appearance of a car’s interior as it experiences sun bleaching. Solar glass can block more UV rays and ensure that your interior lasts longer and any items you might regularly leave within your car. 

UV Protection 

Protection from ultraviolet rays isn’t only a plus for your car but for you. Solar glass can block up to 99% of UV rays, which can cause sunburn, premature skin aging, eye damage, and even skin cancer. 

XIR Glass

XIR Glass is specially designed for safety and heat resistance. It is primarily used in heavy machinery to ensure the safety and comfort of the operators. Its superior strength and durability to most other laminated glasses on the market make it a good fit for construction work, which regularly deals with materials that could puncture the safety glass if mishandled. This also helps reduce minor damage like chips and cracks, lessening the downtime for glass replacement and improving productivity. 

Repair Glass

If you are looking to get your windshield repaired after an accident, you might be surprised at how many different options you have available. In this situation, glass can be classified by the type of supplier and the quality they produce. 

Dealer Glass

This type of windshield is only found at a dealership shop and is authorized by the glass manufacturers themselves. The auto glass they sell is original and branded, but that also means it’s more expensive. It is meant to be a perfect match to the original glass previously attached to your windshield and can only be done at these dealer locations

OEM Glass

OEM glass is Original Equipment Manufacturer glass that is produced to the same specifications as dealer glass provided by the car manufacturers. The same distruutor does not necessarily make it, and as such, is not branded. However, is the same shape, size, thickness, durability, and color as your primary vehicle brand makes on the original vehicle. Overall, it is a safe option without the excess cost of dealer glass, making it perfect for anyone searching for affordability and reliability. 

Aftermarket Glass

Aftermarket glass is made by other independent companies that have no relation to the original car manufacturers. Because of this, they cannot legally create glass with the exact specifications, and it tends to be thicker. Many dealerships won’t accept a leased vehicle that has been replaced with aftermarket glass because the difference in quality is too much. 
For professionals looking to streamline their glass sales process, Elmo Anywhere is one of the leading software programs in the industry. If you’re interested, check out the pricing for the baseline software package and any add-ons.