Automotive

Shattered rear windshield

  • Last Updated:
  • May 4th, 2020 9:16 am
[OP]
Newbie
Aug 29, 2014
33 posts
5 upvotes

Shattered rear windshield

Last summer, rear windshield of my SUV was replaced after being smashed by a ball at a sports field. When cold weather arrived, noticed that some of the wires were not defrosting. Took back to glass shop and they insisted that all the wires were working. Next day, it was cold again and nope, still not defrosting. Waited a while, hoping things would change, then couldn't stand it anymore; told glass shop again and they finally agreed to replace. Fast forward to now - went out to car parked at home and noticed that rear windshield was smashed again!!

Looked around for any objects/projectiles that could have caused the damage but nothing. The breakage did not look like a smash-and-grab (at least not to me, but what do I know) so did some research and learned that there have been reports of sunroofs/SUV windshields spontaneously exploding.

https://www.wheels.ca/news/exploding-su ... -to-blame/

Has anyone had this happen to them? Could this be the cause vs vandalism vs ??? This has implications on who will have to pay. Any advice?
37 replies
Deal Guru
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Mar 9, 2007
13857 posts
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Think of the Childre…
Most likely it'll come out of your pocket, unless there's witness or camera that someone vandalized your car.
Highly doubt that the glass shop can be held accountable.

WOULD SOMEBODY THINK OF THE CHILDREN!!!
Deal Addict
Oct 1, 2015
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Barrie, ON
When you get a new rear windshield find a new place to get it installed.
Deal Expert
Mar 23, 2004
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Yes as in the article glass can shatter spontaneously, it's typically sunroofs it happens to but can happen to backlights as well. This is why some people say not to tint sunroofs but it's doubtful the film does anything to promote such shatters. If anything the window film may protect you against shards that may otherwise fall into the vehicle.

Anwyay nothing really here you can do, whether it's vandalism/robbery, or an actual "spontaneous shatter", the result is the same and the backlight needs to be replaced. No one is to blame unless you have surveillance cam footage of vandals/robbers, and even then you'll know what happened but will probably never catch them. It's true the glass may have been slightly out of spec, perhaps slightly larger than OEM, or could have had a chipped edge or whatever but in the end it's all the same and no way to prove anything really. You'll have to get insurance involved unless you want to pay out of pocket, and perhaps go to a different glass shop this time.
Deal Addict
Jan 19, 2008
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Etobicoke
ES_Revenge wrote: Yes as in the article glass can shatter spontaneously, it's typically sunroofs it happens to but can happen to backlights as well. This is why some people say not to tint sunroofs but it's doubtful the film does anything to promote such shatters. If anything the window film may protect you against shards that may otherwise fall into the vehicle.

Anwyay nothing really here you can do, whether it's vandalism/robbery, or an actual "spontaneous shatter", the result is the same and the backlight needs to be replaced. No one is to blame unless you have surveillance cam footage of vandals/robbers, and even then you'll know what happened but will probably never catch them. It's true the glass may have been slightly out of spec, perhaps slightly larger than OEM, or could have had a chipped edge or whatever but in the end it's all the same and no way to prove anything really. You'll have to get insurance involved unless you want to pay out of pocket, and perhaps go to a different glass shop this time.
what is a "backlight" is it the same as a rear windshield?. I would assume a backlight is a rear tail light.
Deal Expert
Mar 23, 2004
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xxxray wrote: what is a "backlight" is it the same as a rear windshield?. I would assume a backlight is a rear tail light.
Backlight is the common/correct term for a "rear windshield", yes. The rear isn't really shielding from wind per se, given you're usually not driving in reverse ;)
Deal Addict
Jan 19, 2008
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ES_Revenge wrote: Backlight is the common/correct term for a "rear windshield", yes. The rear isn't really shielding from wind per se, given you're usually not driving in reverse ;)
But there is no light.. it is just a window.....wierd.....must be British
Deal Expert
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Feb 11, 2007
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The fact that some wires weren't heating is the key here. I once had a rear window shatter due to uneven heating from the defroster. I know this because the defroster connection was replaced. There's a good chance this happened to you too. Mine exploded while I was heating, but it's possible that yours did while it was cooling. I was lucky that I had it tinted so it actually stayed in place for a few days until I had it replaced. I know the defroster connection was the issue because I could see the cracks radiating from there.
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xxxray wrote: what is a "backlight" is it the same as a rear windshield?. I would assume a backlight is a rear tail light.
Probably because it's the hole in the back that lets light in.
Deal Expert
Mar 23, 2004
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xxxray wrote: But there is no light.. it is just a window.....wierd.....must be British
LOL the light is the light it lets in as engineered said ;) I don't think it's British per se, I've seen it used a lot on American sites/publications too.
Deal Expert
Mar 23, 2004
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engineered wrote: The fact that some wires weren't heating is the key here. I once had a rear window shatter due to uneven heating from the defroster. I know this because the defroster connection was replaced. There's a good chance this happened to you too. Mine exploded while I was heating, but it's possible that yours did while it was cooling.
That's a possibility, but what I took from the OP is they did eventually replace the glass with the non-working grid lines, presumably with one where all were working.
Deal Addict
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Jul 5, 2011
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Toronto
Gonna be a tough case to make OP, even if it may have shattered due to a flaw in the glass / wiring.

I suspect you will end up paying.
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Deal Fanatic
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Dec 28, 2007
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x2. You can't prove that it wasn't vandalized or accidentally broken unless you have actual video.
Sr. Member
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Dec 7, 2011
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vkizzle wrote: @mer1ion can shed some light on this.
Not much for me to say here. Everyone has pretty much covered every possible situation Slightly Smiling Face
Deal Expert
Aug 22, 2011
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mer1ion wrote: Not much for me to say here. Everyone has pretty much covered every possible situation Slightly Smiling Face
Lol, do you think it's more related to a bad install, versus defective glass?
Sr. Member
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Dec 7, 2011
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vkizzle wrote: Lol, do you think it's more related to a bad install, versus defective glass?
It's hard to say without seeing it. On one hand, it could be a bad install(possibly wrong urethane) or even a ill fitting glass. It could also be from the glass overheating. When the glass goes from one extreme to the other, it can shatter. Or maybe someone just vandalized it.
Deal Addict
Feb 6, 2011
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Does the rear glass have any struts or wiper motor attached to it?
If yes, then it can be improper installation, undertorque/overtorque of the strut or wiper brackets, bolts/nuts coming loose due to resuing old hardware, missing hardware (plastic spacers), improper torque procedure of the hinges.
Last edited by billford on Apr 19th, 2020 8:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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ES_Revenge wrote: That's a possibility, but what I took from the OP is they did eventually replace the glass with the non-working grid lines, presumably with one where all were working.
In that case then it could be a result of seating the glass wrong, which caused it to warp as the temps changed.
However, in my case, the lines were working, but there was a bad connection where the wires plug into the glass, so that area overheated. Since OP's glass was replaced again, it's possible that there was also a bad connection where it plugs in.
[OP]
Newbie
Aug 29, 2014
33 posts
5 upvotes
billford wrote: Does the rear glass have any struts or wiper motor attached to it?
If yes, then it can be improper installation, undertorque/overtorque of the strut or wiper brackets, bolts/nuts coming loose due to resuing old hardware, missing hardware (plastic spacers), improper torque procedure of the hinges.
Hi, OP here. Thanks for all your thoughts as I really don't know anything about backlights (learned a new term), im/proper installation, torque, hardware, etc. To give a bit more information, all the grid wires were working the last time I had the defrost on, but that was weeks, if not a month or more, ago. So there wouldn't be any sudden changes in the temperature ... ? There is a motorized wiper attached to the back. Another thing: the breakage is such that there is an irregular-shaped jagged hole about 6"w x 12"h on the left side of the glass, and the entire backlight is completely shattered, with a large crack on the right and glass chips falling off the bottom left and right corners.

Should I pursue faulty installation with the glass shop? I have a feeling they will deny and I won't be able to prove anything. Worth a try or just go through insurance?

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