Aside from looking bad, scratches on your windshield can leave you open to more damage. They are also a pain to drive with, catching sunlight and wiper fluid to obstruct your view of the road. As soon as you notice one, you should take steps to repair a scratch.
Deep scratches are best left to professionals, but you can fix minor scratches yourself. Here is our guide to patching up your windshield and leaving it clean and clear.
How Your Windshield Gets Scratched
Scratches are not uncommon during a car’s life. There are a number of ways for your windshield to get scratched through normal everyday use.
1. Using A Defective Ice Scraper
In cold climates, ice builds up on your car, including on the windshield. Ice scrapers are available to remove the ice, but over time they wear down and warp. This can lead to pressure points while scraping which can in turn scratch up your windshield. Be sure your scraper is in good condition before you put it to work.
2. Getting Hit With Rocks
One of the most common things on busy roadways are small flying rocks. They often get caught in tire treads (especially those of semi-trailer trucks) and can be dislodged at high speeds. If you are close enough behind another car at the wrong moment, small rocks might come crashing into your windshield, leaving scratches.
3. Cleaning With A Rough Cloth
Cloths made of coarse fibers or improperly cleaned cloths can scratch your windshield as you wipe it down. Be sure to always use a soft cloth—cotton or microfiber cloths are best—and clean off any dirt or cleaning chemicals when you are finished using it.
4. Not Maintaining Windshield Wipers
Wipers drag across your windshield, so it should be no surprise that they can cause scratches. If you do not replace your wipers often, the rubber blade can dry out and become hard. Run this over your windshield, and you are bound to see a scratch. Similarly, if you run your wipers while they have material caught in them, that too can cause scratches.
How To Remove Minor Windshield Scratches
If the scratch is fairly shallow, you should be able to fix it yourself. Grab your equipment ahead of time and give your windshield a good wash. Once it is dry, you are ready to go!
For deeper scratches that are not causing any structural issues, find yourself a cerium oxide glass repair kit, either from an automotive supply store or online. The rubbing compound is made with cerium oxide, which reacts with glass to seal it. The result of the reaction is a compound that bonds to the surrounding glass and prevents the scratch from splitting.
- Take the rubbing compound that comes with the kit and apply it to the scratch.
- Wait 30 minutes until the compound dries.
- Clean off the affected area with a soft cloth.
If your scratch is pretty shallow, you can use a non-gel toothpaste. The grittiness of the toothpaste will grind down the glass surrounding the scratch, leaving a level area that no longer obstructs your view.
- Ensure the scratched area is completely dry using a soft cloth.
- Apply some non-gel toothpaste to a clean cloth.
- Scrub the toothpaste into the scratch for 30 seconds, applying gently pressure and working in small, circular motions.
- Use a damp cloth to clean away the toothpaste, and then dry the affected area.
Glass Scrub Compound
This compound is meant to remove caked-on dirt or other stains from glass. Fortunately, you can also use it as an abrasive scrub to level out a scratch, though it works best on shallow scratches.
- Dab some of the glass scrub compound onto a clean, damp cloth.
- Apply the compound to the scratch, working in small, circular motions.
- After a few seconds, spray the scratch with distilled water. Repeat to keep the affected area wet as you work, to prevent causing any fine scratches.
- Only apply a little bit of the compound at a time. Stop when you run out of compound on the cloth.
- Repeat this process 2-3 more times, waiting a day in between treatments. By the end, the scratch should have vanished.
Acrylic Scratch Remover
To fix up small scratches, you can find an acrylic scratch remover at any automotive or hardware store. The scratch remover fills in the scratch and bonds to it, and then can be buffed to blend with the surrounding glass.
- Put a small amount of the acrylic scratch remover onto a clean, soft cloth.
- Apply the remover to the scratch. Continue rubbing it in for 60 seconds.
- Allow the scratch to sit for 30 minutes.
- Clean the affected area with a clean cloth.
- Use a soft cloth to buff the affected area.
Major Windshield Scratches
Particularly deep scratches in glass are mostly harmless (aside from blocking your vision, which is a danger on its own) but in some situations can weaken the windshield and lead to a crack. For scratches too large to repair yourself, turn to the professionals. Visit a garage and have a specialist take a look at your windshield. They will have access to high-grade chemical solutions that can fill in a scratch without leaving a trace.