Acoustic windshields are one of the newest innovations in car manufacturing, advertised as a soundproofing solution. But besides their fancy name and hefty price tag, what advantages do acoustic windshields have? How can you tell if your vehicle already has one installed? Let’s find out.
Noise: A Challenge for All Drivers
Being on the road is rarely a quiet business. At any point in time, there is an endless amount of sound all around you. Impatient drivers are trying to honk their way ahead amid traffic. Engines are roaring, people are shouting, someone is drilling a hole in the road, and different types of music are coming in from all sides.
If you spend long hours driving, you must know how unpleasant and distracting all of this outside noise can be. Plus, it can contribute to your overall stress levels and give you a nasty headache. In your discomfort, you might not be able to stay focused and drive safely.
The most common sources of outside noise include:
- Traffic — the sound of car engines, exhaust pipes, tires, beeping, etc.
- Your surroundings — music, construction sites, and the general hustle and bustle of urban areas
- The road — smoother asphalt or concrete might be quieter than a dirt road, but your tires will inevitably make a sound as they roll on the pavement
- Wind — one of the main culprits; your car is piercing the air at high speed, creating a wind that slams your vehicle
- Your car — the engine and other parts naturally produce noise as they work, which may carry through the windshield.
The combination of these factors produces a loud humming and an assortment of other noises. Especially if you spend long hours driving, the sound can give you a migraine and distract you from the road.
Luckily, car manufacturers have addressed the issue by developing acoustic windshields. Thanks to their innovative technology, these windshields are an effective soundproofing solution for your vehicle. They can keep both you and your car happy and safe.
What Is an Acoustic Windshield?
An acoustic windshield is an innovative solution designed to minimize the noise you hear when driving. Regardless of the source of the sound, the acoustic windshield was invented to limit its volume. As a result, you get to enjoy a much quieter, safer driving experience.
How Do Acoustic Windshields Work?
Acoustic windshields are built differently from standard ones, which makes them better at isolating noise.
Regular double glazed windshields consist of two thick layers of glass. Their thickness does offer some noise isolation — being inside of a car is quieter than being outside of it. However, the glass layers are quite heavy, on account of their density.
On the other hand, acoustic windshields comprise of two layers of much thinner glass that are sandwiching one layer of acoustic vinyl in between. It is this vinyl layer that is responsible for noise absorption.
The glass used in acoustic windshields is thinner than the layers you can find in regular screens by about 5 millimeters. Because of the vinyl placed between the glass layers, carmakers can afford to make the glass so thin. The plastic is quite effective at reducing noise, usually lowering it by about 3 dB.
Considering that the noise outside can reach above 70 dB, the reduction might seem insignificant, but it is enough to be noticeable.
Moreover, the frequencies that the vinyl layer is best at absorbing are often in the higher register. Most people perceive those frequencies as more annoying than the rest, which might explain why the improvement an acoustic windshield provides is so prominent.
Some more expensive cars now also use acoustic glass for the side windows, giving you an even quieter ride.
The Benefits of Acoustic Windshields
The most apparent advantage of an acoustic windshield is that less outside noise will come into the car. Thus, you will be able to enjoy talking to other passengers traveling with you or listening to your music without distracting noise from outside. Besides, you will probably feel more comfortable when you hear less outside clamor and avoid a pesky headache.
Save on Gas
Another benefit of acoustic screens is that they are economical. The materials they are made of weigh less than regular windshields, making your vehicle as a whole a bit lighter. When your car weighs less, it also consumes less fuel.
Furthermore, acoustic windshields are also better for your health because they provide you with extra sun protection.
The vinyl layer inside the glass is vulnerable to sun radiation, so manufacturers coat it with UV filters. These filters ensure that dangerous UVA and UVB rays cannot get through the glass. As a result, radiation from the sun cannot come inside of your car, reducing the risks of sunburns or skin cancer.
If you already suffer from a skin condition such as melanoma, eczema, and the like, reducing sun damage is a must. There are other ways to protect your skin, such as sunscreen and clothing, but limiting sun exposure is crucial, and an acoustic windshield can give you that.
Furthermore, the UV protection that laminated windshields offer is also good for your car’s interior. The damage the sun can cause is not limited to your skin — it is also bad for the fabrics and materials inside of your vehicle.
Have you ever seen old wallpapers in well-lit rooms turn yellow? The same can happen to your cabin. If you want to prevent fading and discoloration of the leather or other fabrics in your car, it is worth investing in an acoustic windshield.
Lastly, acoustic windshields contribute to the safety of your vehicle. Even though their glass is thinner than regular windshields, it is reinforced. This stronger glass can sustain more damage before breaking, making it more difficult for a burglar to smash your windshield.
Moreover, in case you get into a car accident, and the windshield shatters, the vinyl can keep the glass bits together. In other words, it can prevent glass shards from flying everywhere and hurting you or the passengers in your car.
Are There Any Disadvantages to Using an Acoustic Windshield?
The only downside of an acoustic windshield that I am aware of is the cost. Because the technology is more sophisticated, sound screens are more expensive than regular double glazed glass.
Nevertheless, the benefits far outweigh the costs. Plus, as more and more manufacturers make the acoustic windshield their standard choice, the price will go down eventually.
How to Tell If Your Car Has an Acoustic Windshield
If your car is equipped with an acoustic screen, it will say so. The soundproof windshield is an innovative feature that car makers love to highlight. If you check the corners of your windshield, you will find a label that indicates if you have an acoustic one.
The most common way of designating an acoustic glass is a sticker with either the word “Acoustic” or the letter “A” on it. Occasionally, the mark might look like an ear with a soundwave.
The word “SoundScreen” is what Ford-Lincoln cars use and is a synonym to an acoustic windshield.
These are the most common ways to mark an acoustic windshield. Nevertheless, you might also see a different sign, depending on the carmaker. It is best to check the information in your vehicle’s manual, as it would say what each label means.
As of the early 2000s, many carmakers build their vehicles with acoustic windshields. Brands such as Ford, Audi, Toyota, Hyundai, Honda, Jeep, and BMW usually soundproof their cars like that.
Beware of Replacements
If your car suffers extensive damage, you need to replace your windshield. In such cases, you have to tell your car repair shop that you want an acoustic screen. It is best to ask for an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) — that windshield will be virtually the same as the original and would fit your car perfectly.
Upon replacement, make sure to inspect the new windshield properly. It should have the same markings of being acoustic as your original windshield did.
Because acoustic windshields are more expensive than regular ones, you should be wary of scams. An ill-meaning car repair shop might install a standard windshield and charge you for an acoustic one. For that reason, you need to know how your car manufacturer typically marks an acoustic windshield and look for that label before you leave the car repair shop.
Are Acoustic Windshields Worth It?
As mentioned earlier, acoustic windshields tend to be markedly more expensive than regular double glazed glass. However, I believe they are a worthy investment.
A high-quality acoustic windshield will help keep some of the most distracting, headache-inducing noise out of the cabin of your car. Thus, it can significantly improve your comfort and enable you to speak to your passengers without raising your voice. Moreover, the extra safety and sun protection benefits it provides are more than desirable.
Bear in mind that there is only so much an acoustic windshield can do. If you want to further limit the noise in your car, refer to my tips for reducing wind noise and other sound deadening solutions.