Understanding the Different Materials Used for UTV Windshields

When it comes to utility terrain vehicle (UTV) windshields, the material you choose is as crucial as the vehicle itself. It's the first line of defense against the elements and the unexpected debris that comes with the territory of off-road adventure. What kind of windshield you choose affects your experience in your vehicle.

In this article, we'll explore the various windshield materials available and their properties so you are equipped to make the best choice for your vehicle and offroading style.

The Clear View: Glass Windshields

Glass is the old faithful of windshield materials. It offers a crystal-clear view and is highly resistant to scratches. It's the same material used in most cars and trucks, so it's tried and tested on the road.

However, glass becomes a liability when it comes to the rough and tumble of off-road riding. It's heavy. The extra weight affects the UTV’s agility, performance, and fuel efficiency. More importantly, glass shatters. This is a safety concern, especially when you're far away from medical help.

The Lightweight Contender: Acrylic Windshields

Acrylic, also known as Plexiglas, is a lightweight alternative to glass. It's easier to handle and install. For the rider who values speed and simplicity, acrylic is a dream to handle and install, making it a popular choice for those who prefer to do it themselves.

Acrylic won't shatter like glass, which is a significant plus. A stray stone kicked up by a tire or an unexpected jolt on a bumpy path won't send shards flying. Instead, acrylic absorbs the shock, a silent guardian against the surprises of the off-road. This toughness against impact makes it a reliable ally when it gets rough.

Acrylic does have its drawbacks. While it stands up to impact better than glass, it's more prone to scratches. Over time, scrapes and scuffs accumulate, leading to a hazy windshield clouding your view. A hazy windshield impedes your vision on the trails, which poses a safety risk to the driver.

The Tough Challenger: Polycarbonate Windshields

Polycarbonate is the material of choice for UTV windshields. It's incredibly tough — 250 times more impact-resistant than glass and significantly more durable than acrylic.

This resilience makes polycarbonate the go-to for riders who push their vehicles to the limit. It won't shatter on impact; you can ride hard knowing your windshield will hold up under the most challenging conditions.

Toughness doesn't mean you sacrifice clarity. Polycarbonate windshields offer exceptional optical clarity, offering unobstructed views of the trail.

Coatings and Treatments Enhancing Polycarbonate

Coatings and Treatments: Enhancing Polycarbonate

One of the few criticisms of polycarbonate is its susceptibility to scratches. Advancements in coatings and treatments have significantly improved its scratch resistance. Hard-coating treatments make polycarbonate windshields nearly as scratch-resistant as glass while still maintaining all the benefits of polycarbonate.

UV-resistant coatings are also an option. Polycarbonate naturally blocks harmful UV rays, but UV coatings ensure that your windshield won't yellow or become brittle over time, extending the life of your windshield even under the harshest sunlight.

Customization and Flexibility

In the world of UTV customization, polycarbonate leads the charge. Polycarbonate is tough and flexible. This flexibility allows for more customization in windshield design. Because of polycarbonate's pliability, manufacturers are able to mold it to accommodate intricate designs and complex curves.

But the customization isn’t confined to aesthetics. Functionality is at the heart of polycarbonate's versatility. Need a windshield that integrates with LED light bars, GPS units, or other tech enhancements? Polycarbonate is up to the task, capable of being engineered to precise specifications.

The Environmental Aspect

These different types of windshield materials have different environmental impacts. Glass production is energy-intensive, emitting significant amounts of carbon dioxide. Its weight adds to fuel consumption, contributing to its carbon footprint. The green advantage of glass is you can recycle it easily.

Plexiglass’s production involves chemicals that are harmful if not managed properly. However, its lighter weight does contribute to better fuel efficiency. Recycling plexiglass is more challenging than glass, and its susceptibility to scratches and clouding may lead to more frequent replacements.

Polycarbonate windshields represent a leap forward in environmental consciousness for those who love UTVs. Polycarbonate production uses less energy than glass production. Because of its lighter weight, polycarbonate burns less fuel and has a smaller carbon footprint. You can recycle polycarbonate, though recycling glass is easier.

Cost Considerations

Cost is an important consideration when choosing a UTV windshield. 

Here is a cost-benefit analysis of the three most common materials for UTV windshields.


Glass windshields seem like a cost-effective option initially, but they carry hidden expenses. Their weight impacts fuel efficiency, and the potential for shattering poses a risk to your wallet. The cost of replacing a glass windshield includes the value of the windshield itself, the labor costs for replacement, and your UTV’s downtime.


Acrylic windshields often boast the lowest upfront cost, which is appealing to budget-conscious riders. Acrylic's susceptibility to scratches and wear and tear leads to a shorter lifespan. You might need to replace your windshield more frequently due to damage. These additional purchases can make acrylic a more costly option in the long run.


Polycarbonate windshields come with a higher initial price tag, but this is a classic case of "you get what you pay for." Their unparalleled durability means a lower likelihood of needing a replacement.

Polycarbonate’s durability means that while you’re paying more upfront, you’re paying for a durable product that is less likely to need replacement. When you consider the cost of potential downtime, replacements, and even the impact on fuel efficiency, polycarbonate windshields often emerge as the most cost-effective choice over the lifespan of your UTV.

The Best Choice for Your UTV

The Best Choice for Your UTV

When selecting the perfect windshield for your UTV, the decision is as personal as choosing the right trail for your ride. Factors weighing into that decision include aesthetics, cost, performance, safety, and the long-term relationship you have with your off-road companion.

Choosing the right windshield material comes down to assessing your needs. If you stick to gentle trails and prefer a traditional look, glass might be your match. If you're a casual rider who sticks to light use, acrylic could provide the protection you need without weighing you down.

But if you're serious about off-roading and want a windshield that keeps up with your adventurous lifestyle, polycarbonate rises to the challenge. A polycarbonate windshield is an investment, but for the serious rider, it’s the wisest choice that pays dividends in safety and longevity.

The TerraRider UTV Windshields and Accessories Commitment

At TerraRider UTV Windshields and Accessories, we've seen firsthand the difference a quality windshield makes. Our founder, Bryan Buchi, has over two decades of experience working with polycarbonate, and he's put that knowledge into every windshield we make. We believe in the power of polycarbonate to provide our customers with the best possible protection and performance.

Ready To Ride With Confidence?

So, when you're ready to upgrade your ride with a windshield that offers unmatched durability, clarity, and performance, look no further than our selection of top-quality polycarbonate UTV windshields. Trust in the material that's as tough as you. Make your next ride the best one yet.

Choose a polycarbonate windshield from UTV Windshields and Accessories and ride with the confidence that comes from having the best protection in front of you. Contact us today or call 801-923-6347 and see why people love our windshields. Your adventure deserves nothing less.

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