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In this line of work, we’ve fielded all sorts of questions about car care. Unfortunately, one of the frequent issues we hear about is a scratched area on auto glass and especially the windscreen. We say “unfortunately” because a DIYer can’t repair scratches or remove scratches from car window surfaces at home.
Your best option is to take your car to the professionals at a trusted auto glass repair shop. If you have a light scratch or minor chipping, a shop can repair the problem quickly and easily for a reasonable price. With that said, deeper scratches may be irreparable, requiring windscreen replacement instead. This is the costlier outcome, so be sure to check if your auto insurance will cover the costs.
Before you panic, take a closer look at the glass. Sometimes what appears to be minor scratches turns out to be marring or smearing from old wiper blades. If that’s the issue or, if the glass appears etched from old mineral deposits, we have some easy tips and product recommendations to help you out. Let’s get…cracking.
When you run your finger across the clean windscreen of a new car, the glass should feel smooth, right? In fact, it’s not smooth. At the structural level, if you had microscopic vision, you would see glass isn’t smooth at all. It is crystalline with hard, sharp edges. The longer your car is exposed to the elements, tiny particles, from dust to the minerals in rainwater, can become embedded between these crystals. You won’t see them with your naked eye, but you can see the cumulative effect as the glass begins to appear etched.
These same crystal edges wear away at the silicon or rubber in your car’s windscreen wiper blades as they slide over the glass again and again and again. As this happens, tiny bits of wiper blade material embed in the crystalline structure of the glass. When it’s raining heavily, water acts as a lubricant so the blades move easily across the surface. But what happens if you leave the wipers running after the rain stops? You hear a chatter as the wipers catch and skip on the edges of the glass crystals. If that happens, the wiper blade can mar or smear the glass, and these streaks could be mistaken for cracks. But good news – we have three solutions to help you fix that problem.
When cleaning any part of your car, the gentlest method is always the best first option. With glass, that means a powerful car wash soap, a bucket, some water and a quality microfiber wash mitt. Make your cleaning solution more concentrated than you normally would by changing your ratio of soap to water. Double or even triple the amount of soap you’d normally use. This trick can work with most car wash soaps, but it’s especially effective when used with our M.A.X. Power Wash. It’s super-concentrated already, and, mixed at its highest concentration, it breaks up most mars, smears or stains on your glass with no problem.
Use a garden hose to wet the glass and scrub the entire window with a soapy wash mitt, scouring where necessary to remove stubborn streaks or etching.
Use the hose again to rinse the glass clean and check your work.
How did you do? If the glass still appears marred or etched, move ahead to Option 2.
Looks like we have ourselves a bit of a sticky wicket. A slightly more aggressive approach includes using detailing clay and a lubricating spray. Originally designed to remove contaminants from clear coat, synthetic detailing clay also works great to remove windscreen wiper bits from glass, and the spray will help the clay glide smoothly over the surface, letting the clay work its magic.
Spray the clay bar lubricant over a 1’ x 1’ section of glass and wipe the clay back and forth. Continue working in sections until you’ve cleaned the entire window. Finish the job with an auto glass cleaner like our Hybrid Solutions Streak-Free Mist and a microfiber cloth.
How does the glass look now? STILL see smears or etching? If so, it’s time to stop pulling punches.
Yes, you read that correctly. Polishing and rubbing compounds, the abrasive substances detailers use to remove scratches from auto paint can be used on glass with outstanding results. Don’t worry about scratching your glass. The products were developed for clear coat and paint, which are far more prone to scratching than your auto glass is. They’ll take care of any stubborn soil, marring, smearing and embedded deposits and leave your glass as good as new!
Grab a polishing machine or a foam applicator to do the job by hand. Use the compound as directed on the package, just as you would on clear coated paint, wiping the glass clean with a fresh microfiber towel when you’re done. Lastly, spray the window with Hybrid Solutions Streak-Free Mist and wipe clean with a microfiber cloth.
Pro-Tip: Prevent future mineral deposits, smears and marring with a thin coating of spray wax on the exterior of your car windows. Spray waxes dry completely clear, and they’re perfectly safe to use on glass. Just make sure you apply it to the exterior only. And, as a bonus, the wax will help repel water from your windows during storms.
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