Getting a scratch on your car’s windshield is as annoying as much as it is dangerous. It is also a commonplace occurrence. A car windshield scratch can hinder the driver’s visibility and compromise passengers’ safety. So it is imperative you resolve the problem quickly, especially when the scratches are minor. Once you’ve identified the cause of the scratch and how deep the damage is, you can figure out the best way to deal with it.
What is a Windshield Made of?
Windshields are made of laminated glass that offers the highest degree of safety against injuries and accidents. The laminated glass consists of three layers – a layer of vinyl between two sheets of glass, all stuck together under extreme heat and pressure in a specialised oven known as an autoclave.
Because of this construction, only the outer layer of the windshield sustains damage (typically minor scratches) in the case of moderate impact. Such scratches can be fixed without the need for a complete car windshield replacement.
What Can Cause Scratches on Your Windshield?
There is a multitude of common, everyday things that can cause damage to a car windshield.
- Defective Wiper Blades
The surface of the windshield’s wiper blades, upon ageing and neglect, can become hardened, causing scratches, especially when the glass is dry. The same can happen if there is a small object, like a pebble, trapped under the blades.
- Damaged Ice Scrapers
If you live in a cold, snowy area, you may have to remove ice from your car windshield and windows from time to time. Tools like ice scrapers are made to protect the windshield but if they become old and damaged, they can cause scratches.
- Improper Cleaning
If you use a rough cloth to clean your windshield, scratches can appear on it every now and then. Using a soft microfiber or cotton cloth is the best way option for safe and proper cleaning.
- Road Debris
Scratches are also caused by rocks and pebbles flying into your windshield off the road, especially when you are driving behind four-wheelers as they trap rocks on the road easily.
Preparing to Fix Scratches
The first step in fixing a scratch is determining if it is a surface scratch or a deep scratch. A shallow surface scratch will feel smooth to touch when you run your finger across it. A deep scratch, though, will grow over time and may even need a complete car windshield replacement. You can arrest the speed at which the scratch grows at home, but the best course of action will be to seek professional help.
Before you start dealing with the scratch, clean your windshield with soap and warm water, unless there is a risk of the scratch expanding. Mark the area to be repaired with a dry-erase marker on the undamaged side.
7 Ways to Deal with Windshield Scratches
After figuring out the seriousness of the scratch, you will need to get hold of a few equipment for windshield crack repair. If you have an automotive parts store or repair shop near you, you will be able to get your hands on most equipment.
- Glass Repair Kit
A glass repair kit can be bought online or at an automotive parts store nearby. It is a good option to repair scratches that are relatively deep but not deep enough for the windshield to fall apart.
- Step 1: Apply the rubbing compound from the kit to the scratch. The rubbing compound contains cerium oxide which chemically reacts with the glass to seal the scratch and stop it from deepening. It works by forming a cerium-oxygen-glass compound which is softer than glass and can bond the scratch together.
- Step 2: Let the compound dry for 30 minutes.
- Step 3: Clean the area with a soft cloth.
- Clear Nail Polish
Clear acrylic nail polish is readily available at shops, but can only be used for the shallowest of scratches. Since it hardens as it dries, it works well for minor repairs.
- Step 1: Apply a layer of the nail polish on the scratch and clean off the excess.
- Step 2: Let the nail polish dry.
- Non-Gel Toothpaste
Non-gel toothpaste will work only for minor scratches and should not be used for deep ones. The toothpaste acts like a grinding paste which takes away a small part of the glass around the scratch, levelling the entirety of the damaged area.
- Step 1: Dry the glass using a lint-free cloth.
- Step 2: Apply some toothpaste to a soft cloth.
- Step 3: Rub the cloth over the scratch in a circular motion for 30-40 seconds.
- Step 4: Wipe the toothpaste away with a damp cloth and use the lint-free cloth to dry the area again.
- Acrylic Scratch Remover
An acrylic scratch remover is an easy solution for small scratches and is available at any automotive parts store. This product fills scratches in and chemically reacts with glass to fix it.
- Step 1: Apply a small amount of remover on a cotton cloth.
- Step 2: Rub the cloth over the scratch for about a minute.
- Step 3: Let the remover sit for 20-30 minutes.
- Step 4: Clean the glass with a soft cloth.
- Step 5: Gently buff out any remaining damage.
- Glass Scrub Compound
A glass scrub compound is typically used to clean off stubborn dirt and grime from glass, but can also be used to fix minor surface scratches on car windshield glass; it can be quite abrasive if rubbed on the glass for a long time. It works similar to a toothpaste – by levelling the glass around the scratch and hiding the damage.
- Step 1: Apply some of the compound on a damp microfiber cloth.
- Step 2: Rub the cloth on the scratch with a rotational motion with even pressure.
- Step 3: In between every few rotations, spray the area with a little distilled water. Make sure the area does not dry while you are rubbing it or it can cause a number of fine scratches.
- Step 4: Apply minute amounts of the compound repeatedly.
- Step 5: Repeat the process regularly over a couple of days until the scratch is no longer visible.
- Buffing Machine with Water Pump
A buffing machine with distilled water can also level out the area around the scratch and fix it. This should only be done for minor scratches because levelling out the windshield area around a deep scratch would cause extensive damage.
- Step 1: Cover the body of the car around the windshield with plastic sheets or rags.
- Step 2: Make a dam out of several layers of duct tape on the windshield to use the water efficiently. This can be done by sticking one strip of duct tape vertically on the surface and sticking another piece to its sticky side. Repeat the process but now with the tape stuck horizontally.
- Step 3: Pump the distilled water and buff the area until no more damage can be seen. Be patient and do not use too much pressure.
- Step 4: Clean up the residue from the windshield and remove the coverings from the body of the car.
- Professional Help
If the damage is too deep to repair at home or if you are unsure about repairing your windshield at home, it is best to seek professional help. In case of a deep crack, the windshield is completely replaced.
- Step 1: The black pieces holding your windshield in place, called the trim, are removed.
- Step 2: The windshield is lifted away with large suction cups.
- Step 3: Old urethane, dirt, and dust are cleaned out from the pinch weld and new urethane is applied to the edges.
- Step 4: The new windshield is lowered into the car with suction cups, held in place for some time, and allowed to dry.
How Can I Avoid Scratching my Windshield in the Future?
You can keep your windshield safe from harm by maintaining distance between your vehicle and large trucks driving in front of you. Parking in the shade can also keep your windshield strong as high temperatures cause the glass to expand and weaken over time. If you do end up scratching or chipping your car windshield, it’s best to fix it as soon as possible to avoid scratches snowballing into huge cracks.
Regardless of the damage that your windshield has suffered, we help fix it with our 80+ service centres in 40+ cities. At AIS Windshield Experts, we provide professional support and on-the-spot windshield repair and replacement – you will be in and out of the store in no time. As India’s largest automotive glass repair and replacement network, we are your answer to reliable and world-class windshield crack repair services.
Get in touch with us today to experience speedy resolution of your windshield problems. Give us a call at our helpline number today!