Windshields range in shape, size, tint, and features. Some vehicles that are the same year, make, and model have many windshield options. See below for the common windshield features and tips for identifying if you have them. These features include: rain sensors; heated windshields; third visors; shade bands; electrochromic mirrors; heads up displays (HUD); lane departure warning systems; and solar controlled glass.
A rain sensor is a feature on many modern vehicles. It is a device attached to the windshield that detects water or snow on your glass. This allows your vehicle to turn on and adjust your wipers automatically for you in different types of weather. If you are unsure, you can know because if you have a rain sensor, when it begins to rain, your wipers will turn on automatically. Rain sensors consist of an infrared light set at a 45 degree angle to a clear portion of the glass. The “sensor” is a photodiode that sits across from the infrared LED. It measures the extent that light has been reflected versus refracted. When water rests on the glass, it reduces the amount of light reflected and the sensor identifies the difference. Therefore allowing your vehicle to know if there is water on the glass and how much.
Heated Wiper Park Area
Otherwise, known as an electric heated laminate glass, the heated wiper park area is a common feature found on vehicles equipped with a winter/cold weather package. The heating element is a series of lines that run underneath the area where your wipers sit. You may or may not have a de-icer button inside to manually turn them on. However, the sensors are visible as they provide direct contact to the underside of the windshield wipers themselves. They are often quite well hidden from a distance but upon close examination, they should be visible.
Windshield Third Visor
“Third Visors” are disguised as a black speckled shading in your windshield behind your rear view mirror. It is designed to keep the sun out of your eyes while in the awkward space in the top middle of your windshield between your fold down visors, coining the term “third visor.”
It is also often incorrectly referred to as the “third visor band” resulting from confusion with a “shade band.”
Similar to the third visor, the objective of the windshield shade band is to keep the sun out of your eyes. However, instead of exclusively being behind the rear view mirror, it is a band of tint , either the same shade as your windshield or a contrasting color, that runs along the entire top of your windshield. The most common colors are green and blue.
A rear-view mirror that has electrical components and automatically adjusts to night driving conditions is referred to as an electrochromatic mirror. The easiest way to know if you have an electrochromic mirror is if you have any of the following: a digital compass in the mirror, Homelink, buttons, or if there is not a ‘flip tab’ coming out of the bottom.
Heads-up Display (HUD)
Some vehicles actually project information on to the windshield (such as speed, temperature, navigation instructions etc.). This allows the driver to be able to keep an eye on the important information about the vehicle without taking his/her eyes off the road. Heads-up displays typically require a specific portion of the glass nearest to the steering wheel which allows proper image projection upon the interior of the glass.
Lane Departure Warning System
Lane departure warning systems (LDWS) will notify you when you are drifting between lanes without using your signal light. It uses a camera attached to the windshield to function. It may beep, vibrate, show a picture on your navigation system, and/or light up an indicator.
Blind Spot Monitoring
Most vehicles equipped with pedestrian and lane detection systems also have sensors which provide visible indicators usually displayed on your side view mirrors. The blind spot monitoring system will light up whenever there is a vehicle in a potential blind spot on either side of you.
Solar Windshield Glass
Most modern high quality windshields are solar controlled. While it is not a frequently talked about feature, it is designed to block energy from the sun. This protects your eyes, resists interior fading, and helps keep your vehicle cool. This is occasionally paired with a solar/acoustic interlayer between the two panes of glass that make up a windshield.