If you have ever broken a car window and needed to cover the hole temporarily, you probably don’t take glass for granted the same way other people do. It’s easy to see why glass is taken for granted. By design, glass is meant to be forgotten. Most often, the purpose of glass is to provide a barrier of protection without obscuring a view.
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When this barrier of protection is broken, especially in a car, it doesn’t take long to appreciate the level of protection glass provides. Instead of having a dry, quiet, temperature-controlled ride, your commute can become freezing cold or boiling hot. Your once-dry upholstery seats can become soaked with rain very quickly at 60 miles per hour. Wind can instantly mess up the hairstyle that you spent 30 minutes perfecting. Road noise can drown-out the person on speakerphone and make a conversation impossible.
Not all auto glass breaks the same way because every piece of auto glass is not the same type of glass. There are two different types of glass used in automotive applications—laminated glass and tempered glass. Laminated glass is two glass sheets with a layer of polycarbonate sandwiched between them. The polycarbonate helps hold the glass in place if it breaks. Tempered glass is a toughened glass with greater strength than regular glass. It can hold up to more substantial impacts than normal glass. The downside is that when tempered glass breaks, it instantly shatters into thousands of tiny pieces.
In America, all windshields must be made using laminated glass. The lamination helps hold the glass in place in the event of an accident. It also lessens the chances of an object penetrating through the windshield. Some manufacturers use laminated glass for side windows, back windows, and sunroofs too, but they aren’t required. Many manufacturers choose to use tempered glass for these parts because it’s lighter in weight and more cost-effective.
Car windows don’t break often, so when they do, it can be quite shocking for the car owner. Most owners will want to know what caused the window to break. Sometimes, this is obvious. If an object was witnessed smashing through the window, then the culprit is clear.
Other times, it takes some detective work to determine why a car window broke. If a driver’s door window is smashed and the radio is missing from the dash, then the reason is straightforward. On the other hand, if your sunroof is smashed, you might have to look around inside or around your car to determine what object fell from above.
In the worst-case scenario, there will be no clues at all. Some people refer to it as “spontaneous breakage” when there is no discernable cause of glass failure. In reality, there is always a cause. Glass may suffer damage not detectable without magnification which causes it to fail months later. Temperature changes and other factors, over time, can work away at the small damage and cause it to spread.
The first step in covering a broken car’s window is to call and schedule a glass replacement. You want to get the glass replaced as soon as possible. This will help keep your car from being damaged further, and it will keep passengers and other drivers safe.
The instructions below are only meant to keep out the elements while you’re waiting for your car’s glass to be replaced. It’s not a good idea to drive your car with a temporary fix like this, and it might even be illegal depending on your local laws. You should certainly never drive your car if the windshield is compromised to the point where you have had to cover it.
How you cover your car’s broken window will depend on the type of glass that is broken. You should be able to determine whether it’s tempered glass or laminated glass depending on how it broke. If it shattered into lots of tiny, rounded pieces, it’s likely tempered glass. If it is broken, but still held in place, it’s likely laminated glass. If you’re still in doubt, check the “bug” of a window that is still intact. It should state whether the glass is laminated or tempered.
The steps outlined below are not guaranteed to completely keep out water and other elements. You should only attempt this if you are comfortable working with the tools and materials listed below and must do so at your own risk. Otherwise, leave it to a professional.
Materials needed to temporarily cover your broken car window:
If the glass is laminated, it’s likely it’s still intact within the frame. Depending on the extent of the damage, you can follow the same steps above, but leave the intact glass within the frame. If the damage is extensive, the entire window may need to be covered with plastic. If it is only a small point of impact, the general area may be the only part that you may want to cover with a small piece of a plastic sheet.
If your car’s glass needs to be replaced, visit Glass.com®. Type in your zip code, provide the year, make, and model of your car, and it will provide you with quotes from local glass replacement companies in your area. You can book with them easily online and have a mobile replacement done quickly and efficiently.
Glass.com attempts to provide accurate information but cannot be held liable for any information provided or omitted. You should always work with a licensed, insured, and reputable glass shop that can assess your specific needs and local building codes and offer professional services. Never attempt to cut, install, or otherwise work with glass yourself. All content is provided on an informational basis only.
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