The windshield or windscreen of an aircraft, automobile, bus, motorcycle, or tram is the front window. Modern windshields are generally made of laminated safety glass, a type of treated glass, which consists of two (typically) curved sheets of glass with a plastic layer laminated between them for safety, and are glued into the window frame.
Motorcycle windshields are often made of high-impact acrylic plastic. As the name implies, their main function is to shield the driver from the wind, though they do not do so as totally as those of a car.
The modern, glued-in glass contribute to the vehicle's rigidity, but the main force in innovating the windshield has historically been the need to prevent injury from sharp glass fragments. Modern windshields, now almost universally required in all nations, do not fragment, but tend to stay in one piece even if broken, except if pierced locally by a strong force. Properly installed automobile windshields are also essential to safety; along with the roof of the car, they provide protection in the case of a roll-over accident in the vehicle.
In many places, laws restrict the use of heavily tinted glass in vehicle windshields; generally, laws specify the maximum level of tint permitted. Some vehicles have noticeably more tint in the uppermost part of the windshield of motor vehicles that blocks glare from the sun.
In aircraft windshields, a current is applied through a conducting layer of tin(IV) oxide to generate heat to prevent icing. A similar system for automobile windshields, introduced on Ford vehicles as "Quickclear" in Europe ("InstaClear" in North America) in the 1980s, uses very thin heating wires or conductive-film layer embedded between the two laminations.
Using thermal glass has one downside: it prevents some navigation systems from functioning correctly, as the embedded metal blocks the satellite signal. This can be resolved by using an external antenna for the navigation system.
Today’s windshields are a safety device just like seat belts and air bags. The installation of the auto glass is done with an automotive grade urethane designed specifically for automobiles. The adhesive creates a molecular bond between the glass and the vehicle. If the adhesive bond fails at any point on the glass it can reduce the effectiveness of the air bag and substantially compromise the structural integrity of the roof. (Raymond Clough)
Auto windshields less than 20 cm (8 inches) in height are sometimes known as aeroscreens since they only deflect the wind. The twin aeroscreen setup (often called Brooklands) was popular among older sports and modern cars in vintage style.
A wiperless windshield is a windshield that uses a mechanism other than wipers to remove snow and rain from the windshield. The concept car Acura TL features a wiperless windshield using a series of jet nozzles in the cowl to blow pressurized air onto the windshield.
When repairing a windshield, it is important to start with a clean work area. Any dust, dirt, or contaminants in or on the glass can result in scarring or trapped particles that will permanently be visible in the final repair. Any moisture can cause future cracks when the glass cools or heats. Many chips in automotive safety glass will never grow but insurance companies in the United States often waive the deductible to ensure they do not have to pay for the replacement of the auto glass.