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Common Causes of Rear Windshield Damage

Rear windshields are composed of different materials compared to the front windshield. Unlike the front windshield, the rear has heating stripes and shatterproof qualities. It also holds a different angle than your vehicle’s other auto glass. But like your vehicle's other auto glass parts, the rear windshield is still a vital feature of your car.

It works as a protective barrier, as the rear windshield is made of tempered or safety glass, making it more difficult to break and turning it into your protective shield in case of an accident. The stronger and more durable the glass, the more secure it’ll let passengers feel. At the same time, it helps provide better visibility, maximizing it by providing a clearer view of what’s in front of or behind the car. Like the front windshield or side glass, the rear windshield is still susceptible to breakage for different reasons. Some of these include,

1. A Sudden Change in Temperature. When exposed to heat, glass expands. When exposed to cold, it contracts. By leaving your car under the hot sun for a long period and then suddenly using the air-conditioner can potentially damage your vehicle’s rear glass. Similarly, it’s advisable not to immediately blast the heater upon entering the car, as this can also pose a risk to the glass.

Therefore, being mindful of where to park your car is essential. Opt for a garage or basement parking space to reduce the risk of damage to your rear glass significantly. If your vehicle was exposed to prolonged outdoor heat, it’s a good practice to briefly roll down your windows to allow hot air to escape before turning on the air conditioning.

Avoid using hot water to defrost your rear glass on a cold winter morning as well, as this drastic temperature change can cause significant damage and increase the likelihood of cracks. Furthermore, existing cracks and chips may worsen under such circumstances.

2. Collisions and Accidents. Road accidents and collisions may happen unexpectedly, and most can damage your vehicle’s rear glass. Bird strikes can also frequently cause damage to the rear glass. This or other collisions involving flying golf balls, cricket balls, or other heavy objects can also lead to damage. The most effective way to safeguard your rear windshield from these accidents is to be an attentive and cautious driver who’s mindful of their surroundings at all times. According to a comprehensive study from 2013 funded by Environment Canada (now Environment and Climate Change Canada), approximately 25 million birds die from window strikes annually in Canada.

3. Incorrect Installation. This can also be a reason for rear glass damage. This often happens due to subpar installation equipment or mishandling by an untrained employee, resulting in gaps between the glass and the frame. While driving, these gaps may worsen due to vibrations, heightening the risk of the glass dislodging and shattering. If your back windshield shattered for any reason, it’s crucial to seek immediate expert assistance from an experienced windshield repair and replacement specialist.

4. Stones and Debris. Small stones are usually the debris that pose a significant risk against your car’s rear glass. It’s quite common for rocks and other objects to go airborne and strike the rear glass while vehicles drive swiftly past. Either this or your car could be parked near construction zones where debris could fall onto the rear glass. This can result in cracks or complete shattering.

5. Bad Weather. Events like inclement weather are beyond human control and can occur unexpectedly. If your car is parked outdoors during this time, there’s a likelihood that your rear glass may be damaged by tree branches and other debris carried by strong winds.

To conclude, different things can shatter your rear windshield. As the rear window differs from the front windshield, replacing it can be significantly more intricate and expensive than replacing your vehicle's front or side windows. But when should you think of replacing the rear windshield, anyway?

Professionals say that replacements should be considered when there are any visible damages like nicks or deformations present. Though these are only minor defects, they can become major concerns if not addressed promptly. Another factor to consider is whether or not the rear window is made of tempered glass or laminated glass.

Though tempered glass is durable, it shatters into smaller pieces when broken. Meanwhile, laminated glass, mostly used for luxury cars, has a plastic film coating that keeps the glass intact even in an accident. Regardless of the type of glass, if your vehicle gets into a rough accident or has its rear windshield hit by heavy debris, it’s inevitable for your windshield to undergo the necessary repair or replacement. In these cases, quick repair or replacement is preferred.

Aside from being dangerous to drive with a cracked or shattered windshield, it can risk more damage to your car, as the windshield also supports your car frame.

If the rear windshield has been completely shattered, it’s important to prioritize safety and use temporary barriers to keep debris from your vehicle’s interiors. Most importantly, avoiding driving until the glass is repaired or replaced is best.

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