More than you ever wanted to know about golf car windshields…
All windshields are not alike!
Folding windshields, in particular, are made with varying materials and assembly techniques. Here’s a brief explanation to help you as a consumer understand the various windshields available. One interesting point: They all look alike! Your only assurance is to do business with an organization you trust.
Materials used in windshields:
Acrylic. This is your basic material, often known by manufacturer trade names such as Plexiglas®. Acrylic is the hardest of the three materials we will review, which has advantages and disadvantages. Advantages: Cost: Acrylic is the least expensive material. Scratch resistance: All plastics will scratch, but acrylic, being the hardest material, is more scratch resistant than the other materials. Disadvantages: Shatter resistance. The harder the material, the easier it is to break. A golf ball or any abject striking a standard acrylic windshield will cause it to break, and if the force is sufficient it will shatter.
Impact-modified Acrylic. This is the material most often used on Factory fleets. Standard acrylic is “modified” during its manufacture by adding rubber to the plastic. This makes the windshield more resistant to impact, hence the term impact modified. A golf ball or other object striking an impact modified windshield (sometimes called “high impact”) will most likely crack or damage the windshield, but will not shatter, providing a safer windshield. Since this material is softened somewhat by the addition of rubber, it is less scratch resistant than standard acrylic and more care has to be taken when cleaning impact-modified windshields. Impact modified acrylics cost more than plain acrylics, and are the “middle” product price-wise.
Polycarbonate. This is the “Cadillac” of materials cost wise, and is the only material that can take a significant direct hit from a golf ball or other object and not break. This is possible since the material is softer, and it actually gives when hit by an object. Polycarbonate thus provides the safest windshield. Polycarbonate is also often known by manufacturer trade names, the most common being Lexan®. However, since it is the softest of the three materials it is the least scratch resistant and greatest care must be taken when cleaning to avoid scratching. (For this reason, we do not offer polycarbonate windshields)
AS5 Street Legal Polycarbonite with Scratch Resistant Coating
These are one of the newest and most expensive windshield options. Developed for the new class of "Low Speed Electric Vehicles" the AS5 windshield has all the benefits of the Polycarbonate windshields above, but with the addition of a special scratch resistant surface layer, you ge the best of both worlds. AS5 is DOT certified for Low speed, street use windshields. AS5 windshields are one piece, flat windshields only.
All of the above are typically available in clear or gray tint, which doesn’t affect the above advantages and disadvantages.
There are two materials factors to be considered: the plastic, already discussed, it’s thickness, and the hinge materials. The materials discussed are offered in varying windshield thicknesses. Hinges are the source of many customer satisfaction problems. Some manufacturers use PVC for the folding seam. This material is not resistant to ultra-violet rays, so the more time the windshield is exposed to sunlight the more brittle it becomes. As it becomes brittle, it tends to crack at the seam.
Acrylic is the least expensive, and Polycarbonate is the most expensive. Impact Modified Acrylic is the best overall vale. Thinner windshields are less expensive that thicker ones. Good hinges are more expensive than ones that will rapidly deteriorate. Like so many things, you tend to get what you pay for. And remember…they all look alike. Buy from a trusted vendor.