Something Better: In-Glass Defrosters


The problem with starting a new feature during a new year, like, just hypothetically, running a sort of themed post on the first weekend of the month, is that when the first weekend of the month rolls around, you actually have to remember to post that. Which I did not last week, making this Something Better post a little bit late, but here we go! With the super winter storms that have been abounding this year, let’s consider the handy rear window defrosters on pretty much any car ever. Essentially the ‘high tech’ solution is to print or paint on a layer of conductive filament, that has a resistance such that when an electrical current flows through it it gives off enough heat to warm the window and melt the ice. My question is, why hasn’t someone come up with something better? Something that doesn’t involve black lines painted all over the place, something clear that could be used on front and side windows also? Safety glass is already a composite laminate material, so why not sandwich a defrost layer in there made of some clear conducive material?

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  • OA5599

    The rear window defogger in my Challenger was a trunk-mounted blower motor attached to ductwork through the middle of the rear package shelf. Filament on glass already IS the high tech solution.

    • My old Granada had the same thing. I thought it was aftermarket.

  • chrystlubitshi

    Ford had a rapid windscreen de-icer option on some of its vehicles from the 80s and 90s (for sure, not sure if they went past that)…I'm not sure why this couldn't be done for a rear windscreen just as easily***EDIT: although if I had read the rest of that article, it might have answered that question. Still there has been 30 years since it was initially introduced to improve/perfect the system.*** here's a little info–

    The first paragraph of the Wikipedia article on Ford's Quickclear
    "First seen on the 1985 Ford Scorpio/Granada Mk.III in Europe and the Ford Taurus/Mercury Sable in the U.S., the system uses a mesh of very thin heating wires, or a silver/zinc oxide coated film embedded between two layers of windscreen glass.The overall effect when operative was defogging & defrosting of the windscreen at a very high rate. Landrover (UK) also fitted a similar screen to their Discovery range in the early 1990s some of which were imported to Australia undetected by authorities because at that stage, were not legal in any state. Owing to the high current draw, the system is engineered to operate only when the engine is running, and normally switches off after 10 minutes of operation. The metallic content of the glass has been shown to degrade the performance of certain windshield-mounted accessories, such as GPS navigators, telephone antennas and radar detectors."

    • nanoop

      They're still part of the winter packages they throw in to juice up deals. I like mine quite a lot: they save like 1 minute of scraping, and provide an excuse why the engine is idling already (not that my neighbours care, they have their cars idling for 15+minutes, while having their breakfast).

      The optical properties became better and better over the model generations (thinner wires, more curvy etc), and if the windscreen is clean, is not an actual problem (misaligned headlamp from oncoming traffic is annoying in any case). Imo there is only one improvement, it's called "garage".

    • Bigglesworth of Dean

      Yeah as nanoop said they're still available, I have one on my Focus and it's bloody practical. I'd say one reason they're not used for rear glass also is because they use an insane amount of power compared to "standard" defroster.

      The rear defroster, nutheaters and fan on full blast doesn't affect the voltage much, but if I add the windscreen defroster to that then the alternator can just barely keep the voltage at 12V on idle and the lights are obviously dimmer.

      They are also ridiculously expensive at the dealers, mine quoted 700€ plus labor for a replacement. Aftermarket glass can be had for about the same cost as non-heated versions.

      • chrystlubitshi

        didn't realize they are still available… that's awesome.. I loved the ones I dealt with in mid to late 90s town cows… they were awesome at removing the bad parts of parking outside. I also always loved the "ooh, that car has it" identifiable orange tint to the windscreen….

  • cruisintime

    Heated seats and mirrors …Heated windows… Heated cars… Henry Ford scoffs at your convenience.