Panoramic roofs, Heads Up Displays and Tint: What You Need to Know about New Window Technology
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Panoramic roofs, Heads Up Displays and Tint: What You Need to Know about New Window Technology

Are panoramic sunroofs safe? Is a heads-up display worth getting, or does it just make cars more expensive? How do I pick the right window tint? Car window technology has changed a lot in the past few years, which can make decisions about them confusing. Here’s what you need to know about these new technologies, their uses, and the problems you may encounter when they need repair.

Panoramic Sunroofs: Pricey and Fragile

Panoramic sunroofs offer the open sky views of a convertible while keeping passengers out of the weather. These roofs may be made from one large pane of glass, or multiple panes, allowing one section to slide back and open the cabin. These panes are made of the same tempered glass used in side windows. That means they’re manufactured in a way that creates tension across the pane. This makes the glass strong, and if it fails, it shatters into small, rounded pieces that are less likely to cause injury than standard glass.

However, there have been reports of these sunroofs shattering without warning. The NHTSA has had around 900 incident complains covering over 200 models and 35 vehicle brands. These reports led to four investigations over the past 15 years. They issued recalls for the 2012 Hyundai Veloster and the 2004 Nissan Maxima, but they didn’t find safety issues with the 2004 - 2006 Cadillac SRX or 2005-2006 Scion tC. Through these investigations and reports, the agency has found no consistent design flaw causing these failures.

All that glass also comes at a cost when it’s time for collision repairs. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) estimates the average accident claim is 26% higher on a car with a panoramic sunroof. While shattering outside of accidents is rare, it’s hard to pin these incidents on manufacturers. That means you’ll be left with the repair bill if it happens.

Heads-Up Display: More than Convenience

When your eyes move away from the road, you increase the risk of having an accident. Heads-Up displays, or “HUDs,” display important information over the driver’s view, reducing the need to glance away from the road. These systems have been in use in planes since the 1950s, and reached cars in the late 1980s. The idea didn’t really catch on until the past few years with infotainment and safety systems offering more useful information. Modern HUDs can display just about everything you need to know while driving:

– Your current speed and the speed limit
– Lane tracking
– The following distance between you and the car in front of you in seconds
– Forward and blind spot collision alerts
– Infotainment information including audio information and phone status
– Navigation instructions

If the HUD displays directly on the windshield, that windshield must be made with polarized glass. The polarization layer reflects the display projection without obscuring your view. If you wear polarized glasses, the light blocking combination of the lenses and the windshield may obscure your view. This is the same effect you see when trying to look at an LCD screen with polarized lenses.

Polarized windshields can cost up to twice as much as their regular glass counterparts. However, some manufacturers cut costs by using a separate screen for the HUD. While you do have to shift your focus slightly to see the screen, it makes windshield replacements significantly cheaper. Either way, it’s worth paying extra if it means you can avoid an accident.

Window Tint

Even if you don’t care about style, there are reasons you may consider getting your windows tinted. Modern tint can block UV light that causes damage to your skin and your car’s interior, as well as the infrared light that heats up your car in summer. Better still, modern films offer UV and heat protection without needing to be dark. This makes your car more comfortable, and reduces sun damage that can lead to cracked interior pieces.

What should you look for? Any decent quality tint will block 100% of UV light. Heat reflection is rated by either Infrared Rejection Rate (IRR) or Total Solar Energy Rejection (TSER.) While infrared light is the source of most heat, TSER is a better estimation of total heat reflection from all sources. Either way, a higher percentage means less heat entering the cabin.

In Wisconsin, windshield tint can only extend down to the AS-1 line, marked in fine print on the windshield glass. Tint can let through as little as 50% of outside light through front side windows and 35% through rear window and rear side windows. Darker tint is allowed if you have a medical exemption for sunlight sensitivities. Replacement tint can be hard to match, so you may end up having your entire car re-tinted if you need to replace a single window.

When You Need Collision Repair, Visit the Auto Body Shop Trusted

Merton Auto Body has been in business since the 1940s, providing Lake Country residents with the auto body repair services they need to keep their cars on the road. We have the latest training and equipment to repair vehicles new or old. Our shop is just a few miles northwest of Pewaukee near Sussex’s Ironwood Golf Course.



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