Can the cold cause car windows to shatter?

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  • Can the cold cause car windows to shatter?
  • Fred

    I’ve drove to work this morning in the snow (it was freezing but not silly cold), parked up as usual in the secure car park and left it with all the windows intact.

    2 hours later security tell me my back window has been smashed in, so can the cold cause the window to shatter or has someone got it in for me?

    Premier Icon SaxonRider

    The cold being responsible for your broken window is an absurd idea. They drive in Canada/Russia/Sweden (take your pick) without breaking their windows.

    Someone unquestionably has it in for you.

    They are tested to way lower temperatures than we could hope to get here so someone has it in for you.


    The above is true, however temperature differential across the glass can cause stresses that can then cause the glass to fracture – so if you pour a kettle of hot water over the glass to clear it, then this can cause it to shatter – and it doesn’t have to be immediate – the stresses can cause the glass to break some time after the damage is done. If you don’t use hot water to clear the glass, then look for a stone on the back seat – much more likely.


    may make a small crack bigger but wont shatter or smash it obvious if it has been hit as it will have an impact mark. Cold would just be a crack if at all ,whichi is very unlikely


    Quite a lot of people on the Ibiza forum of have reported this happening to the rear window of their Ibiza’s.


    No idea if the cold can do it but i was once parked in the middle of nowhere on a very cold night
    Suddenly after an hour or so, the rear window shattered – no other trafic around or any one else
    So no idea what caused it


    No signs of any stones etc in or near the car, so all I can think of is an icy snowball or someone hit it whilst passing by (their hand or a hammer or similar).

    Can’t think why though, maybe they’re annoyed at it being a 4X4 and responsible for the global warming we’re experiencing at the moment! 😉

    Which ever way it’s £75 I can’t spend on shiney bike bits!


    I had a rear window shatter on a Micra, immediately after turning the screen heater off. ’twas almost freezing & rainy at the time.


    If you google ‘rear window shattering’ you get load of results.

    Seems to be an not uncommon occurrence.

    Perhaps some kind of fault/crack in the glass, manufacturing imperfection, something to do with the heated rear window elements……

    Premier Icon maccruiskeen

    The toughening process can sometimes go awry with some sort of stress build up in the glass that can later cause it to burst, I wouldn’t expect it would be all that long after manufacture for that to happen though. I used a few hundred kilos of shattered toughend glass for a job once and got it from a glass toughening production line, where sheet can spontaniously burst during heat treatment or have to be broken to test the process. Weeks after I got the stuff it was still quietly pinging away, with little granules of glass jumping about like fleas.

    The cold could be the occasion for that stress or a flaw to make itself know, however I wouldn’t expect it to go anywhere – the glass would more or less stay window shaped and in place, or some of it would drop straight down. If the glass is spread about a bit then I’d suspect that someone/thing has hit it


    We had a fleet of Peugeot 309’s that a number of rear screens shattered spontaneously. The cause was because the whole tailgate was stressed round the glass and slamming the tailgate was one of the major causes but they also went in the cold too-so all you boot slammers out there, if your tailgate/hatch is mainly glass dont get slamming it!

    Premier Icon edhornby

    that really annoying advert about the chip in the windscreen turning into a crack is true, the temperature gradients across the laminates of the glass coupled with a bump from a pothole or the like can contribute to crack propagation


    Don’t know about being completely shattered, but cracked windows are very possible.

    They drive in Canada/Russia/Sweden (take your pick) without breaking their windows

    Actually they don’t, at least going by the number of cars with cracked windscreens I’ve seen in Edmonton in the winter. Usually cracked about 10cm from the base, width-to-width across the windscreen, where the hot air causes a strong temperature differential. Very common.

    I had a rental car with a small crack in it once and at -15C and 90km/h it decided to crack some more. Luckily it just made a noise as the crack widened, the windscreen didn’t implode, but I drove the rest of the way back to the airport very, very gingerly indeed with the front vents turned off.

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