How To Find The Right Windshield For Your UTV
With many options to choose from, you may get discouraged when choosing the right windshield for your UTV – but don't be, because we're here to help you navigate the rough terrain of discovering which UTV windshield is right for you, including advantages and disadvantages and everything else in between; so, sit back and enjoy the ride.
There are Only 3 Material Choices, So Why All the Names?
When shopping around, you may see several weird names like Lexan or plexiglass, for windshield materials, but they're only to set manufacturers apart from their competition. In reality, there are only three types of materials: glass, acrylic, and polycarbonate. But what's the difference between the three, and why should you care? It depends on the strength you're looking for and how it ultimately holds up.
Glass - The weakest of the three materials, glass is still suitable for most riding, but it tends to break quite easily, therefore needs a bulkier metal frame to keep it stable and in place. Rocks can be your nemesis when someone ahead of you is throwing rocks, and it just takes a good one to crack a windshield, making it so you can't see. And even though it won't shatter, it's best to replace it immediately.
Acrylic - Ten times stronger than glass, acrylic is the middle child of windshield materials. Even though it's not the strongest, it's also not the weakest and can take some pretty big hits without breaking. A disadvantage to acrylic includes the lack of lamination or being tempered in the same way as glass, so when it cracks, it can shatter; this creates a significant safety hazard for the vehicle's occupants.
Polycarbonate - This practically indestructible material is the superman of windshields. Nearly 250 times stronger than glass and about 25 times stronger than acrylic, polycarbonate is the kryptonite for windshield material and Doesn't break, even if shot at with a small-caliber firearm - this is why it's used in police stations, armored vehicles, banks, and other places where someone might need to stop a bullet.
Other than material strength, you want your windshield to hold up against scratches, which look just plain ugly. Enough scratches can pose hazards for visibility, resulting in a hazy windshield. What you're looking for then is the "hardness" of a material, which is more than just the strength, it's about scratch-resistance. In this context, we flip the materials, with glass the hardest, acrylic next, and polycarbonate the least scratch-resistant. Without a hard coating, the material scratches easily via small rocks, coarse dirt, or when wiping off the mud. Small branches and bushes can also scratch polycarbonate, and unfortunately, you can't polish or repair it, so you're stuck with it forever.
Good news, though, poly often comes with a hard coating that about equals that of glass, so don't dismiss this option.
Less important than strength and hardness, yet, still valuable to many people, windshield clarity is more about the appearance, since all windshields are clear. It could also factor in sunlight and whether you want less or more. Glass transmits about 86 percent of visible light, whereas poly is 89 percent, with acrylic at 92 percent.
Comparing acrylic and glass, acrylic is brighter and clearer of the two since more light gets through, while poly looks a little darker but not as much as, say, your car windshield.
There are more things to consider, and we'd be happy to discuss them with you when you contact us at UTV Windshields and Accessories. Our excellent customer service is here to answer any questions, so reach out and call us today!