Although it might appear like just a minor issue, scratches on your auto’s windshield can do a lot more than just ruining your car’s integrity. They can create low visibility by letting the sun’s rays bounce off the scratched areas on to your eyes thus causing an accident. If the scratches are deep, water can collect on the grooves making it impossible for the wipers to wipe the water off entirely. This too can cause low visibility. So, to prevent any of these uncertainties, not forgetting costly repairs in the future, your auto will require a comprehensive windshield scratch repair immediately these scratches appear.
Now, repairing windshield scratches is a problem that can be remedied at home provided you have the right-hand tools. However, this process can sometimes be a real challenge depending on the depth of the scratches. So, with that said, this short guide will offer a detailed step-by-step guide on how you can remedy this issue in the comfort of your home garage.
What Causes Scratches on your Auto’s Windshield?
Before we begin, we would like to discuss just a little bit of what causes scratches on your car’s windshield. Now, one common way your windshield can acquire scratches is via the wipers. This usually happens when you accidentally turn them on during a dry day. Here, you generally squeeze sand, debris, and abrasive that have collected between the wipers and the windshield onto the surface of the windshield thus causing scratch marks.
Another way you can get scratches on your auto’s windscreen is by using an improper wiping cloth when cleaning your car. If you don’t wish to ruin your car’s integrity too soon, then it’s recommended that you use a microfiber towel to clean the windows and the windscreen.
Finally, your car can get really bad scratches if your window’s tint is installed by the wrong person (a non-professional). In this case, a tinter’s cutter or an X-acto knife can do the damage if it’s mishandled during the process.
Now that you’re fully aware of some of the common ways your auto can get scratches on the windscreen, lets now move to our next section which is a step-by-step guide on how you can remove these scratches.
Windshield Scratch Repair. Everything You Need To Know!
Step 1: First Check the Depth
From what we’ve mentioned above, it’s clear that the first step you’ll have to take is to examine the depth of the scratches to determine the extent of the damage. You can do this by running your fingernails over the scratched areas. In case your fingernails are not snagged by the scratches, then good news—you have a superficial scratch that can be repaired at home.
However, if your fingernails get snagged, then it simply means the scratches are more than 50 microns which is way deeper to be repaired at home. In this case, a professional repair facility is the only option as most of them have advanced scratch repair kits that can remedy the problem professionally.
Step 2: Gather Repair Materials
So, assuming the scratches are just minor and shallow; these are the supplies you’ll need to accomplish this DIY process.
- Soft cloths (most preferably microfiber cloths)
- Small bowl
- Glass cleaner
- Rubbing compound (You can choose Cerium Oxide, Baking Soda and toothpaste, or nail polish)
- A spatula
- A tape
Now, when choosing any of these rubbing compounds, you need to understand that each of them has its own distinct characteristics. For instance, nail polish works well on shallow scratches while baking soda and toothpaste works well but requires numerous applications. Also known as jeweler’s rouge, cerium oxide is inexpensive and the only “closest to perfect” rubbing compound that you can consider when removing scratches from your car’s windshield.
Step 3: Wash the Windshield
Once everything is ready, prepare your car’s windshield by washing it thoroughly to remove any dirt and debris that might interfere with the process. Here, you can use a glass cleaner alongside a dry microfiber cloth to clean the surface of the windshield.
Now, there are two ways you can clean the windshield. One, you can simply spray the glass cleaner on the surface then wipe it dry using a microfiber cloth. Two, you can mix water and white vinegar in equal ratios then use them to clean the windshield. An all-purpose cleaner and degreaser will also suffice though you have to ensure that no ordinary dish soap is used whatsoever.
Note: When cleaning, it’s wise to cover the windshield’s edges with a painter’s tape to prevent any splatter from penetrating to other parts of your auto. Also, make sure that you dry the windshield completely before moving to the next step.
Step 4: Mark the Scratched Areas
Since you’ll be focusing on repairing specific areas of the windshield, sometimes it’s easy to get lost along the way since the scratches are likely to get less visible as you progress. So, to prevent this, you need to use a dry-erase marker to mark the inside (opposite side) of the windshield to outline the scratched areas. You can also use a piece of tape to do the same in case the marker pen is unavailable.
Step 5: Prepare the Scratch Remover
Now, if you’re working with an acrylic product, then this step is not necessary. However, if you’re working with cerium oxide, you’ll need to first mix this powder with water, inside a bowl, to form a slurry compound that has the consistency of Elmer’s Glue.
The same can be done for baking soda and toothpaste where you have to mix the two thoroughly until a slurry is formed.
Step 6: You can Now Apply the Rubbing Compound
Now that the rubbing compound is ready, you can start applying it on the surface of the windshield. But, before you commence, you have to wear protective gear, especially when dealing with cerium oxide, such as protective goggles, rubber gloves, and a dust mask.
If you’re dealing with cerium oxide, simply start by applying the compound on the scratched areas. Use a dry microfiber cloth to rub the surface as you apply. If the compound is drying out, you can spray a little amount of water on it then continue rubbing with the microfiber cloth. Always rub gently in a circular motion to let the compound fill the cracks.
If you’re using a non-gel paste, start by soaking the microfiber cloth on warm water then rinse it gently. Next, apply a small amount of the paste (baking soda + toothpaste) on the microfiber then use it to wipe the scratched surface. Since toothpaste requires numerous applications, you have to repeat this procedure several times while inspecting the scratches. Just like cerium oxide, wipe in a circular motion to let the paste fill the cracks.
To guarantee efficiency, you can use a buffing machine or an electric drill to remove the scratches entirely. Here, you only need to attach a soft buffing pad then turn the machine on to wipe the affected area back and forth several times.
Step 7: Let the Compound Dry
Now that everything is done, the final process is to expose your car to direct sunlight for the rubbing compound to cure (dry up). This usually takes anywhere from 20 – 30 minutes. While the resin dries up, you can use this free time to remove the painter’s tape and wipe off any excess paint before it dries up.
Once the resin fully dries, wash the windshield thoroughly before wiping it with a dry microfiber cloth. In case you spot some white flakes on the surface, you can scrape them off using a razor blade.
If you have followed this step-by-step guide to the latter, then congratulations! You’ve just removed scratches from your car’s windshield. What you need now is simply to sit back and admire the reflection on your car’s windscreen.
Now, one drawback with rubbing compounds is that they’re not long-lasting. Since they tend to wear off over time, you have to reapply them regularly to seal the small cracks to prevent them from getting worse over time.