In Minnesota, we see some pretty drastic temperature fluctuations. In the span of a single day, we can sometimes see a temperature change of over 50 degrees, which can have negative repercussions for our vehicle windows.


While your automobile’s heating and cooling system keeps you perpetually comfortable amid wild temperature fluctuations, your auto glass may be silently suffering. And unfortunately, you may not even know it until it’s too late.


How can drastic outdoor temperature changes affect your vehicle’s windshield, rear window, side windows, or sunroof? Let’s take a look at what can happen when your auto glass is exposed to sudden and significant fluctuations in outdoor temperature.


Cold Causes Auto Glass to Contract

If you’ve spent a winter in Minnesota, you know first-hand what brutal cold really means. In the dead of winter, temperatures often drop into the sub-zero range, and those frigid temperatures can spell problems for your windshield and other windows. 


Extreme cold puts stress on all of the components of your auto glass, including the metal and sealant that attach the glass to the frame. When each component is fully intact, the stress is evenly distributed. But when minor cracks or chips are present, that’s when problems can occur.


Damaged sections of auto glass take the brunt of cold-induced stress because those areas are naturally more vulnerable. Ultimately, even minor flaws in your windshield can gradually or suddenly transform into large cracks as the cold forces the glass to contract.


Before the bitter cold sets in, inspect your glass for even the smallest dings and scratches and have any damage promptly repaired. If you see anything concerning, be extra careful when you remove frost, snow, and ice from your vehicle windows. Here’s the best way to get ice off your windshield so you don’t accidentally compound existing damage.  


Heat Forces Auto Glass to Expand

It’s a bitterly cold morning, still dark out, and you have to warm up your car before heading to work. What do you do? Crank that defrost to full blast, right? Wrong. Imagine dropping an ice cube in a glass of warm water. What’s that you hear? Oh yes, cracks. Now imagine that ice cube is your auto glass.


When you blast warm air at an ice-cold windshield, you instantly increase the likelihood that existing chips or minor cracks will grow into much larger problems. Cracks tend to travel toward heat, so as your glass slowly expands with the warming temperature, any flaws can slowly expand, too.


Temperature Fluctuations and Spontaneous Glass Damage

If your vehicle has a sunroof or moonroof, extreme temperatures — particularly high heat — can cause the glass to spontaneously shatter. Although it’s not common, it does occur in a handful of vehicle models, and it’s something you should be aware of so you can do your best to prevent it from happening.


How does a sunroof or moonroof suddenly shatter? Auto glass manufacturers aren’t totally sure how spontaneous glass explosions happen. However, their theory is that some types of glass contain contaminants. Those contaminants place undue internal stress on the window, so when the glass is exposed to high heat, there’s a chance it could shatter without warning.


Unfortunately, many vehicle owners who’ve reported such incidents say the damage occurred while they were driving. But you can reduce your likelihood of experiencing a similar incident by minimizing your sunroof’s or moonroof’s direct sun exposure. The cooler you keep the window while your vehicle is parked, the cooler it will be when you start driving, and the lower your risk of dealing with spontaneous glass damage.


How to Prevent Temperature-Induced Auto Glass Damage

To prevent existing auto glass damage from growing worse, inspect your windshield and/or rear window for any minor chips or cracks before you crank your defrost or air conditioning. If you see any areas of concern, schedule professional auto glass repairs as promptly as possible. And while you’re waiting for your appointment, be sure to protect your auto glass from further heat-induced damage.


Should You Attempt Your Own Repair?

Although you can attempt to perform a quick fix with a DIY auto glass repair kit, taking that route isn’t in your best interest. Check out 4 Problems With DIY Repair Kits to learn why.


Getting minor damage professionally repaired is the most effective way to protect the integrity of your vehicle windows and reduce your chance of needing a future windshield replacement.


Get a Free Auto Glass Repair Estimate in the Twin Cities

No matter the season, extreme outdoor temperature fluctuations can spell problems for your vehicle windows. Whether you need a few minor auto glass repairs or a complete windshield, side window, or rear window replacement, our team at Only 1 Auto Glass would love to help you out. We specialize in comprehensive auto glass repairs, replacements, and ADAS recalibration, and if you can’t come to us, our mobile repair team will come to you!


To learn more about our services or get a free estimate, give us a call at 651-789-1111 or request an estimate online, and we’ll get in touch with more information.