A scratch on a windshield does not merely undermine the overall integrity of the glass. It also severely affects visibility, which can contribute to road traffic accidents.
However, a minor scratch does not automatically mean you have to pay for a full windshield replacement . Instead, why not learn what is involved in repairing windshield scratches yourself?
How Deep Is Your Scratch?
First up, you need to figure out how deep the scratch runs. If you can run a fingernail over the scratch and not get snagged, then you are dealing with a superficial scratch. A windshield scratch repair of this type is relatively easy and straightforward to perform.
But if your nail gets caught in the scratch, then you’re looking at the services of a professional to fix it. Almost invariably, deep scratches will require a total windshield replacement. This is because a deep windshield scratch can spread rapidly and extend through the full thickness of the glass. No windshield scratch repair kit currently available is able to stop this type of deep scratch developing into a windshield crack. These are dangerous, your windshield could disintegrate completely while driving!
Buy Your Windshield Scratch Repair Kit
Fixing a windshield scratch entails the purchase of an auto-glass repair kit. These kits have everything you require to repair the surface of the glass back to its former glory. Be sure to check that the repair kit comes with a rubbing compound containing cerium oxide. This compound bonds itself inside the scratch to form a strong seal. It prevents a scratch from getting larger and helps avoid cracks, resulting in the windshield breaking.
There are alternatives to cerium oxide that are also very acceptable. For instance, you can opt instead for an acrylic scratch repair agent. Acrylics work well on very light scratching. Those on a modest budget can try a non-gel toothpaste, which works well as a repair kit. However, you will find you need to keep applying the toothpaste to get it to fill in a scratch. If you go for toothpaste, be sure that baking soda is a listed ingredient. You can also mix a teaspoon’s worth of baking soda into a standard white toothpaste to serve as the rubbing compound.
If, however, you plump for the cerium oxide, be sure to wear a dust mask and rubber gloves. Cerium oxide is very harsh. So you won’t regret wearing safety goggles as an added safety precaution.
Prepping the Windshield
The best results in windshield repairs are achieved by carefully preparing the glass surface beforehand. Remove any dirt and debris from the windshield with a soft, microfiber cloth. To get a nice clean surface to work with, spray the glass cleaner onto the glass and wipe it over well. When clean, ensure the area is completely dry before you start applying scratch remover.
Don’t use ordinary soap! Instead, mix up equal parts of distilled white vinegar and water. However, an all-purpose spray cleaner well also does a good job. Stubborn stains and marks on the windshield can be removed with a specialty automotive glass cleaner. Otherwise, you can get by with a regular window cleaning solution. Whatever you use, be sure that the glass is completely dry.
Use masking tape to isolate your windshield repair area. This step will prevent any ‘drift’ from landing on places you don’t want it.
Applying Windshield Scratch Remover
As stated earlier, mask up and put on your safety goggles and protective rubber gloves whenever you use cerium oxide. Only work in places that are well ventilated.
Now you can begin applying the rubbing compound onto your scratched windshield. Use a clean cloth to apply your rubbing compound. As most rubbing compounds look uncannily like toothpaste, they are easy to apply. Spray your rubbing compound with a little water. Gently rub in the compound with a microfiber cloth. Do not apply heavy pressure. With a rubbing compound, the idea is to fill the hairline scratches on your windshield.
A buffing machine fitted with a soft buffing pad is a good idea too. Just check the buffing pad you choose is suitable for glass. Start with the lowest speed setting to get your eye in if you are a first-time buffer. Once you feel more confident over how to remove windshield scratches, you can up the speed setting.
Those using the non-gel toothpaste methods of windshield repair begin by rinsing a microfiber cloth in some warm water.
Wring out the cloth is damp but not soaking wet. Put a modest amount of the toothpaste onto the cloth. Using a circular motion, rub the non-gel toothpaste into the scratch. This is the best way to fill the scratch with toothpaste. Rinse the cloth out and reapply more toothpaste. You may need to do this numerous times. When you’re satisfied with the results, wipe the windshield down using long strokes, not circular movements.
You can also use the same process with baking soda and metal polish.
Whatever you choose to use, be sure to clean away excess rubbing compound from the windshield. Avoid further scratching of the glass by always using microfiber cloths.
Next, visually inspect the glass for any remaining scratches. If you can still see visible scratching, it means the rubbing compound did not sufficiently fill the scratches. Apply more compound to these remaining scratches, then buff them once more. Try aligning the edge of the buffing pad directly over the scratch. This will help get the compound into these remaining spaces.
Letting the Rubbing Compound Dry
The next stage requires a little patience to let the rubbing compound dry out thoroughly. Drying ought to take around half an hour or so. Once completely dry, you can finish your windshield scratch repair. Remove the masking tape that protected the rest of the windshield. Next, thoroughly wash the windshield, rinse, and then dry it off with a microfiber cloth.
Regularly Reapply the Compound
Over time the rubbing compound filling the scratches is subjected to wear and tear. That’s why you should always reapply more rubbing compound frequently. This accomplishes two things: it refills the scratches with new compound filler and prevents the scratch from becoming a crack that requires a windshield replacement. Always thoroughly clean the windshield before reapplying fresh compound. When you’re done, again, rinse the windshield well, dry it off, and then polish it up for a sparkling scratch-free outlook.
Fixing scratches on a windshield is only ever successful if the scratches are superficial and do not penetrate deep into the glass. If the scratch is significantly more than cosmetic, you should get it checked out at an auto shop by a pro who will advise you. Be prepared to fork out for a windshield replacement if that stone chip scratch runs deeper than you imagined.