Scratches and scuffs on your windshield do not simply compromise the overall integrity of this part of your vehicle, but it also obstructs your vision when you drive. This can be distracting, annoying, or even be something that causes an accident, which we are all constantly actively working to avoid.
This does not always have to mean that you need to get a whole new windshield for your car, a scratch is not the end of the world. All you need to do is figure out how you will remove the scratches from your car’s glass.
If you leave the scratch unattended for too long, even the most minor little crack in the windshield can develop into a deeper cut. Once it gets to this point, you will need to replace it, so we want to avoid it getting to this stage.
We are certain that you would rather fix up the crack or ship so that it doesn’t get worse, than end up having to fork out all that extra dough for a new windshield.
Just remember, there is no way that you can remove anything deeper than 50 microns. But how can anyone actually know how deep that really is? How do you tell? Keep on reading, we have all your answers.
How deep is the scratch?
Before you even start thinking about tackling the scratch, the first thing that you need to do is figure out how deep it is. This is imperative as you do not want to end up wasting your time, effort, and money on fixing something that is not fixable.
The best thing to do is to run a fingernail over the scratched area to feel for depth. If your fingernail moves with minimal difficulty, then you are only dealing with a surface scratched.
On the other hand, if your fingernail catches on the scratch then you will need to adopt a more professional approach. If the scratch is any deeper, then you will probably need to replace the whole windshield.
This is because this type of scratch can expand very fast, and it can easily end up affecting the other side of the windshield as well. If it reaches this point, there is nothing you can do to save your windshield, and prevent it from turning into a full-blown crack.
What do I need to fix it?
If it is just a surface scratch then you can fix this up, you will need to gather your materials. This will include an auto repair kit in order to remove the scratch. This kit will come with pretty much everything that you will need to remove the issue on your windshield. You need to make sure that you get a kit that comes with a rubbing compound that has cerium oxide in it.
This substance is a dream, it is so simple in how it works. It bonds to the glass and forms a protective layer over the scratch. It also prevents scratches from becoming worse, and it reduces the overall likelihood of this scratch becoming a crack, or even breaking your windshield.
If you cannot get this substance then you can always get an acrylic scratch remover, this is an ideal substance. It performs well on scratches that are not too deep as well.
If you are lacking in cash however, or if you are seeking a sleek home-made solution to test out, then you could always give non-gel toothpaste a try. While it is not the best scratch remover, and you will need to apply it a few times to actually conceal the scratches, it can work.
If you do want to try this home-remedy, then you should ensure that baking soda is in its ingredients. Another alternative is to mix up normal white toothpaste with baking soda, and apply that.
If you do have cerium oxide, ensure that you protect your hands and face, wear gloves, and a mask, and goggles. It is a dangerous compound, and you do not want it getting on your skin. Wear a dust mask and some rubber gloves as a minimum, this should be enough to protect you from this substance.
Prepping the glass
Now, if you have the compound you will apply, and your safety gear, and you know that the scratch is not too deep, it is time to prepare the windshield for some scratch-specific first aid.
Wipe off any dirt, debris, or anything else on the windshield with a soft microfiber towel. Then spray the windshield with a glass cleaner and give it a thorough wiping. If you want to give it a good wash, go for it, but do not do anything else before it is totally dried out.
We recommend steering clear of ordinary dish soap, what you can use instead is a mixture of distilled vinegar and water in equal parts of 50/50. Or you could always use an all-purpose cleaning solution.
If you have some tough stains on your windshield, perhaps from that one time you tried and failed to remove a sticker, then you can always use a special glass cleaner to do this. Otherwise, a window cleaner should do just fine. All you want to do is make sure that nothing is left on the glass.
Cover the edges of your windshield with a painters tape to stop the compound you are using from getting onto your paintwork.
Now it is time to use your cerium oxide, or whatever other scratch remover you are deciding to use. Cerium oxide is a toxic compound remember, it can cause mild to acute irritation, so you need to ensure that you are adequately protected from this substance. You should also ensure that whatever environment you are doing this in has proper ventilation.
Now, apply some of the compound so the area of your windshield that has this annoying scratch on it. Many of these compounds will come tubed and as a paste, so it makes it fairly easy to apply and then spread around with a clean microfiber cloth.
Although you do not necessarily need to apply obscene amounts of pressure to the area, you still need to apply pressure and be firm.
Now, the next thing you must do is use a buffing machine, with a buffing pad for glass surfaces. Gradually work your way up from the lowest speed setting on this machine as you do this.
If you are using a non-gel toothpaste, or a metal polish to work out this windshield scratch, then a good thing to do would be to soak the microfiber towel in warm water and wring the water out so that the towel is a little damp.
Then you would need to apply the mixture of non-gel toothpaste and baking soda onto the scratch using circular motions, rubbing all over the scratch. Then rinse the microfiber towel and apply another time. Repeat this process over and over a few times. If any excess is left on the glass, wipe it off. Do not wash it yet, though.
You should always use a microfiber cloth as this will avoid the chance of you adding in any extra scratches while you do this. That is the last thing that you need.
Let the mixture sit for a little while and then take a look at the scratch. If it is still obvious, then you need to add more applications of this mix before the effects will be to your satisfaction. Ensure that you align the edges of the buffing pad over the scratch so that it is filled with the compound that you use.
You could use a drill to apply extra pressure
If you have access to a hand drill that has a hard rubber polishing wheel, then you could use a hack here. Use cerium oxide to the scratched area and use the drill to polish the scratch. This entire process calls for a whole load of patience, low pressure and consistency, so it will be rather tedious, but worth it.
Give it time to dry
We understand that you will be tempted to check the rubbing compound right now to see if it is dry, but you really need to walk away and just give it time to do its job. This can take up to half an hour, so why not go and make yourself a cup of coffee and put something on the TV while you wait.
When it is dry and fixed up, you can get rid of the painters tape, wash the windshield, rinse it, and then dry it with a microfiber cloth. Do NOT rush this process, though.
Schedule to reapply
Over time, you are sure to see the rubbing compound slowly wear off. Especially after a couple of heavy downpours of rain, or some snow when you are using the wipers. This is why you need to reapply the rubbing compound after some time to refill in the crack with new material.
Doing this ensures that all your hard work doesn’t go to waste.
Prevention is the key
No matter what the case, prevention is always better than a cure. That is true in this case as well. Whether your windshield is scratch-free, or if you already have a scratch or two on it, the simplest, and the best thing that you can do is to prevent it from ever happening, or prevent it from happening again if it already has happened.
The biggest culprits behind windshield scratches are usually collision, road debris, wild weather, or slip when you are trying to remove a sticker.
Sometimes they almost seem to appear out of nowhere, as if your windshield has just had enough and grown one. Some of the lesser known windshield offenders hide right under our own noses, in plain sight, where we do not suspect them to be.
This is why you should always be super vigilant. Watch out for things that come into contact with your windshield, including things that are meant to improve its function… such as those shady wipers.
While we are driving around we will often have to dodge from debris flying about. However, there are plenty of other methods that you can use to prevent your windshield from getting scratched, even if it is unintentionally you who is the culprit.
Do not forget to check your wipers
Your wipers are needy, especially in the seasons when it is called for them to be used more often. It can be very easy to overlook these wipers, we often take for granted what they do. They are in constant contact with the windshield, and so they should be cared for and used very cautiously.
Think about that time you got a leaf stuck in your wipers, and the wind was not doing what it should to get it out, you would turn the wipers on right? Bad idea! If you run the wipers when the windshield is dry, then this can cause dirty, grimy scratches to appear. And it will be easy for sand, dirt and so on to accumulate on your wipers when you drive.
When there is no water to clear it out, or even just wet the windshield, you may as well be raking your windshield. The water must always be on first.
Similarly, if your wipers are old, you risk the metal brackets scratching the windshield, make sure you change them if they’re aging.
Monitor your cleaning habits
Ensure you use a microfiber cloth when you clean. Sometimes we scratch the windshield when we are trying to give it a good clean, simply because we use the wrong stuff. You should also clean from top to bottom to prevent the transfer of debris. Also use ammonia-free cleaners to avoid any discoloration.
Monitor your wiper fluid
We are all guilty of forgetting we need wiper fluid until we run out. You should check the fluid regularly to avoid dry blades scraping at the windshield. The last thing you want is to be out of wiper fluid when a bird leaves a mess on your windshield, and you end up smearing it across the windshield instead of getting rid of it. No one needs to see that, top up your wiper fluid.
Tailgating: Why it’s a big nope
Not only is tailgating a stupid idea as you often end up in the vehicles blind spot, therefore becoming a hazard, but any debris kicked up off the road by the vehicle ahead will often end up flying towards your windshield. Keep a safe distance and don’t tailgate, it’s just a bad idea all round.
You can fix a scratch if it is just a surface wound. If it is any more than superficial, you will probably need to seek a replacement. If you are not sure, seek out an auto repair shop, they may be able to fix it. However, the best step is always prevention, maintain good habits, don’t tailgate, and keep your wiper fluid topped up.