Thailand heatwave causes car windows to explode

Picture courtesy of Sanook

Thailand’s scorching temperatures have led to an unusual phenomenon – exploding car windows, even when vehicles are parked in the shade.

The issue sparked widespread discussion and debate among netizens, following viral images of a car with its driver’s side window shattered due to the intense heat. The advice circulating online suggests leaving car windows slightly open to allow hot air to escape, aiming to prevent such incidents.

Jessada Denduangboripant, a lecturer from the Department of Biology at Chulalongkorn University, provided insight into this matter through a Facebook post. He explained that while heat can indeed cause car windows to shatter, various potential causes need to be examined on a case-by-case basis.

The image in question showed a side window, which, like the rear window of a car, is made of tempered glass, as opposed to the laminated glass used for windshields. Each reacts differently to impact.

Tempered glass can shatter due to stress cracks, making it possible for a car parked in extreme heat to experience a sudden change in temperature (from hot to cold) that can cause the glass to break. Such incidents are not uncommon.

For example, a car left in the blazing sun might have its windows crack when the driver returns and immediately turns the air conditioning to full blast, cools it with cold water, or if it’s suddenly hit by rain. Pre-existing minor cracks or air pockets within the glass layers can lead to disproportionate contraction and expansion, resulting in breakage.

Falling objects

However, the primary cause of shattered car windows is often an impact from falling objects. Before jumping to conclusions, it’s advisable to check the surroundings for heavy fruits, branches, or even pets like cats that could have fallen on the vehicle. Pre-existing damage, like unnoticed chips from flying debris, increases the likelihood of the glass shattering.

To determine whether a crack is a stress crack, one should look for the absence of impact points or contact marks on the broken window. Older vehicles or those that have been involved in collisions may have structural deformities that put extra pressure on the windows, making them more prone to breakage. Conversely, a new car experiencing window breakage could be due to manufacturing or structural faults, requiring a check from the dealership, reported Sanook.

Jessada also offered tips to prevent car windows from shattering:

  • Avoid parking in direct sunlight for extended periods, as this accelerates wear and tear on the vehicle.
  • Regularly inspect the car for any signs of damage on the windows and body, which could create pressure on the glass.
  • Before using a car that has been parked in the sun, open the windows slightly to let out the hot air, then gradually cool the interior with air conditioning.
  • Install quality heat-filtering window films to not only reduce heat but also provide protection in the event of an accident.
  • Steer clear of parking in areas prone to explosions, such as mines, demolition sites, military exercises, or near rocket launch pads and sonic boom zones, all of which can cause stress cracks.
  • Do not leave items in the car that could explode when exposed to heat, such as lighters, spray cans, or power banks.

By understanding the various factors that can lead to shattered car windows and taking preventive measures, drivers can better protect their vehicles from the unexpected consequences of Thailand’s intense heat.

Thailand News

Samantha Rose

Samantha was a successful freelance journalist who worked with international news organisations before joining Thaiger. With a Bachelor's degree in Journalism from London, her global perspective on news and current affairs is influenced by her days in the UK, Singapore, and across Thailand. She now covers general stories related to Thailand.

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