Woke up to a nasty surprise: The mysterious case of my shattered back window glass

I live in the 20-inches-of-snow-covered North-East. For the last few days, my car (2007 Corolla CE) which has been parked on the public streets has been covered in some snow. For the last few days, I go out for some exercise and I would always go take a look at how much the snow has melted around the car.

Well, this morning, I take a look and the glass in the rear has been shattered!!

the mystery is that it looks “pristine” as though it had been completely untouched by any blunt object…

this is more what it looks like:


rather than this:


Here’s the question: How do you think this could’ve happened?

Do you have any suggestions for how to get the glass replaced, any tips about how to find a place?

I’ll offer mine first: Temperature. or rather differences in temperature. But then, this makes almost no sense, since the greatest differential in temperature during the last few days and nights of this blizzard has been about 10 degreees. plus, this has never happened before and temperature has varied wildly. i’m afraid I’ll never find out, but i’ll pretend that it wasn’t a nasty neighbor or a vandalous (word?) stranger.

Also, no chance Warranty would cover this right?

car has 55,000 miles. been used for 48 months.

Your comprehensive insurance coverage (if you carry it) should cover this. No ideas about how it may have happened, though.


Comprehensive (sometimes called “non-collision”) insurance should cover it, but if your deductible is high, you will wind up paying most of the cost.

As to the warranty, ask yourself this question:
If I am involved in an accident, does my car’s warranty cover body damage?
Hopefully you know the correct answer to that question.

What state do you live in? MA, and some other states have no deductible on glass.

New York City sir, err…that’s New York State :slight_smile:

I had a front passenger side glass window shatter. Lots of tiny little chunks of glass everywhere. This occurred in my driveway in a rural area and was not vandalism or any other “human” act. It was simply a very cold night and the glass shattered. Auto window glass is “tempered” meaning it is put under internal stress during manufacture. This makes the glass strong. Sometimes a scratch, ding, temperature change, or all of above can cause the glass to release the internal pressure, which results in shattered glass. All those little pieces are evidence that the glass was tempered.

Since the glass chunks are small and “rounded” they tend not to be as sharp as regular window glass which reduces injury due to glass cuts. This is another reason cars have “tempered” glass.

I don’t think anyone caused your glass to shatter. Sometimes it just happens.

Do you have sand trucks with spinning spreaders on them ?
Look inside the car for gravel evidence.

Thanks, I understand, and I accept that shoot just happens sometimes. That’s life. I believe that’s what happened in my case too.

Do you have an opinion about OEM glass vs. Aftermarket?

It’s hard for me to act kindly toward some one who lives in NYC*, but here goes. :>)

If replacing the rear window is like replacing a windshield, you’ll be happy to find how inexpensive (a few hundred $) and easy (for a trained and eqiupped technician) it is. Here in the civilized world the major auto glass chains will send a tech to do the job right where the car is; you can also take the car to the shop. First, check with your insurance company (unless you want to avoid making a claim). They might have a deal with one of the glass outfits; in any case, they will tell you your options for repair and tell you what they will cover. Even after you get that info you might want to call some of the other glass installers. Some of them will beat the deal you get thru your insurance co’s recommended shop (e.g., the other installer will accept the insurance payment AND forego the deductible that you would have had to pay).

As for the OEM vs. aftermarket question, I don’t really know, but I have trusted the installer’s aftermarket glass the one or two times I have had glass work done. I think there are Federal standards that give you some assurance. But I was not doing rear windows, so I did not have to worry about the quality of the defroster wires.

*“I love New York. It’s the Yankees I hate.” Actually, I don’t even like New York (City).

The first pic you showed is from a tempered window, used on side and rear windows. The second pic was from a front windshield with two layers of glass with an adhesive in between (you can see the cracks in the two layers crossing each other)

With tempered glass, any break in the surface causes the whole window to break into small pieces. The can break from an internal defect in the glass, from an improper installation ot from thermal shock.

I live in NY State and you can get comprehensive insurance with and without a glass deductible. Don’t be afraid to ask, it won’t make your insurance go up.

for a rear window, clarity is less crucial, ask the glass repair place what they would do on their cars.