Heated Windshields (And Why We Dislike Them)

Not all cars come with heated windshields, but many of them do. It is usually a default feature that certain vehicle models will have no matter what.

A heated windshield is not always when it comes to identification. The most obvious sign of having a heated windshield is a set of lines located beneath your windshield wipers. It is typical for these lines to have an orange or copper colour to them.

How It Works

The technology behind a heated windshield is ancient. It is done by soldering a wire directly to the surface of the glass. The point of contact is then spread along orange lines that are painted across the bottom of the windshield. The paint is infused with copper, making it conductive.

Whenever you add any kind of a current to a conductor, it spreads the current around and generates heat. This is great for removing the build-up of ice and snow around your windshield wipers. If this feature is so great, then why are we so against it?

Why We Dislike Heated Windshields

Although it’s nice to have a quick solution to removing ice build-up, it can actually cause your windshield to crack. You don’t need any chips or other problems for this to happen to you.

Picture your car sitting outside all night during winter. The temperature may have reached as low as -10°C and you have ice and snow covering your windshield. Glass will actually hold the temperature and may be even colder to the touch. By turning on your car, the temperature quickly begins to rise.

Your windshield will go from -15°C to +21°C in a matter of five minutes.

There are not a lot of things in existence that can withstand that kind of direct temperature fluctuation. The stress will inevitably cause rapid expansion and turn into a crack. That’s not even the worst part. You can’t turn this feature off. It is always on. Your de-fogger button doesn’t control the windshield heater.

If that doesn’t convince you, then maybe seeing the soldering might. The electrical component is pretty much always exposed to moisture. This causes the heater to short-circuit. It won’t start a fire or kill your car, but it will crack your windshield.

Windshield heating component rusted and short-circuited.

Over the last few years, we have been replacing more and more windshields due to heating defects. The worst-case scenario is typically found in rear windows(backglass). Since these windows use the same technology to use for de-fogging, it is a mandatory safety feature to have them connected.

What If We Used OEM glass from the Dealership?

In our experience, it makes no difference. The technology is the same. We have witnessed all kinds of attempts to mitigate the defects of heating a windshield. Some manufacturers have tried sealing the heating element in silicone so it wouldn’t be exposed to moisture. Others have the heating element built-in between the two layers of glass.

The bottom line is this technology is far from perfect. Even the dealership cannot honour the warranty of a windshield that has been cracked due to this defective feature. Despite dealerships not honouring this defect, we have been known to offer a free windshield replacement if this happens to you. In recent years, we have changed our stance.

If you opted-in to having your windshield heater connected, you forfeit any warranty we may be able to offer you. We simply cannot guarantee your windshield will stay intact if you choose to use defective features.