Rewind to three weeks ago here in Northern Arizona… it's 7:00 in the morning and it is time to start your car so it can warm up before your commute to work… BUT WAIT! What’s that? Frost on your front and rear windows? A swarm of thoughts rush through your head, “Am I going to be late?” “Can I scratch this off?” “I should have started this 5 minutes sooner” “Is my curling iron still plugged in?”.. Alas you realize all is okay because you turn your defroster on and will be on your way shortly. Once it is finally defrosted JUST ENOUGH for you to see, you get in your car and look behind you to start backing out and you see it… Your back window PERFECTLY clear while you squint through a tiny spot in your windshield not much greater than the odds of you making it to work on time. How is this possible? Well have you ever wondered why those thin little lines on your rear window are there? Have you wondered what they are made of? Why aren’t they on all of the windows? Well you are not alone, others have asked some of those same questions.
Those tiny thin lines are there for your benefit and your convenience. They are typically made up of a very thin web of tungsten wire (similar if not the same wire that is used in a light bulb) layered into the glass. Some may also be may be composed of a silver-ceramic material printed and baked onto the interior surface of the glass. When powered on the system in your car sends electrical currents throughout the tungsten (or the silver-ceramic material) to create electrical friction. The friction being created generates heat to quickly defrost the surrounding area. Fortunately not a whole lot of energy, friction or heat is needed to accomplish this. Since the temperature only needs to be raised slightly above freezing to melt ice or snow it will remain cool to the touch, which in return makes it a safe procedure. The limited amount of power to conduct all of this also makes it so that minimal power is diverted from your engine thus making it a practical and also functional practice. Most cars are even programmed to shut off this feature automatically once it reaches a certain temperature or a predetermined amount of time ensuring that an oversight doesn’t cause any damage. Since these lines are essentially one large electrical circuit the connection must remain continuous otherwise the system will falter. In layman’s terms there cannot be a break in these lines. If there is some sort of disconnect, a repair must be made so the system can once again function as a whole unit. While the tungsten wire is embedded in the glass, the surface printed variety (which includes the silver-ceramic material) is much more easily prone to damage but can generally be repaired with a conductive paint until the glass can be replaced. Depending upon which technique is used can cause the price of your glass to vary greatly.So that is super cool and innovative right, so why not the front? Well as small and thin as those lines may be they can still interfere with your direct line of sight (see what we did there?). The Department of Transportation has set very strict visibility requirements specific to each and every state. Most states require no visual obstructions on the main portion of the glass (some states specify the driver’s side view) thus prohibiting these useful lines to be implanted or painted on your windshield. Some car manufacturers have actually opted to put this technology in more than just the rear window. Some have decided to use this technology in the driver side windows and the passenger windows making the defrosting process simple, quick, and easy. If your car does not have these capabilities fear not, for most cars are equipped with a standard primary defogging system. For primary defoggers heat is generally provided by air forced through the heater core directed through ducts and then distributed over the interior surface of the windshield. In many cases this air is dehumidified by passing through the vehicle’s air conditioning evaporator. The dehumidification process makes this process more effective and efficient since dry air has a larger capacity to absorb water from the glass.
Although using your car’s defrosting technology is the best and our first choice another option would be to make a de-icer spray by utilizing a rubbing alcohol solution. PLEASE remember to never pour warm water on your frozen windshield since this will cause it to crack! You can make this simple solution at home the night before to keep handy or even to keep in a spray bottle in your car throughout the winter months. We recommend a solution of two-thirds isopropyl (rubbing alcohol) and one-third water mixed in a spray bottle. Spray the solution on your windshield, wait five to ten seconds and watch as the frost and ice begin to melt. Turn on your windshield wipers and watch your frozen woes disappear! Some people choose to use a saltwater mixture but we suggest against that to avoid premature corrosion which is common with solutions made with salt.
Now that you are all informed and up to date with the cool technology in your car try to take a look at it the next time you turn it on. See what you have available to you and if you need any upgrading you know where to go! We here at RC Autoglass have the experience needed when working with all different types of automotive glass. From your “Plain Jane” simple no thrills no frills glass to glass with the most recent and sought after technology we are your local glass gurus. Serving our community and keeping you and your loved ones safe on the road will always be our number one priority.