When you’re looking at your windshield, the last thing you want to stare at is a big scratch blocking your view. But what can you do about those unsightly scratches, or are you doomed to replace your windshield?
We broke down everything you need to know here, from diagnosing the scratch, finding the cause, and even what you need to do to fix it. We’ve got you covered and will have you back on the road in no time. Even better, hopefully, we’ll keep you away from any expensive repairs.
Diagnosing the Scratch
When you’re diagnosing a window scratch, it’s essential to determine how deep the scratch is. That’s because your windshield has two different layers. The outer layer is laminate, and this is easily repairable.
The deeper layer is the glass itself, and once this becomes scratched or damaged, it’s extremely difficult, if not impossible, to fix.
To tell which layer is scratched, you can run the fingernail test. Simply run your fingernail over the scratch and see if you can feel any grooves. If you can, then you have a deep scratch. On the other hand, if you have a minor scratch, everything will still feel smooth despite the visible scratch.
Keep in mind that if you have a cracked windshield, you’ll likely need professional repairs, and if the crack is too long, then your only option might be to replace the entire windshield.
Repairing the Scratch
While you can use these methods to repair both deep and minor scratches, they’re far more effective with minor scratches.
- Glass Repair Kit – Preferred Method
There’s a reason that “glass repair kit” is in the name. These are highly effective at minor scratches, small chips, and even tiny cracks!
Start by thoroughly cleaning the windshield before using the kit. Once everything is clean, follow the directions on the kit. Usually, this involves applying a rubbing compound into the scratch then moving the vehicle to an area with direct sunlight to allow the compound to cure.
Glass repair kits will usually cure in 5 to 10 minutes, which is a huge reason why they’re so popular. The curing process involves curing strips, so once everything has dried, remove them and buff out any remaining damage.
Not only can these compounds help with minor scratches, but they can even fill in small cracks and other damage!
Just keep in mind that you’ll likely still be able to see the crack if that’s what you’re using the glass repair kit for. However, these kits keep the cracks from spreading, which can end up saving your entire windshield.
- Acrylic Scratch Remover – Runner Up
Acrylic scratch removers are extremely similar to glass repair kits, but they can take a little longer to cure. These kits do a phenomenal job as a windshield scratch remover but keep in mind it won’t help with deep scratches.
Just like the glass repair kit, go ahead and clean your entire windshield before starting. Then, apply the rubbing compound to the scratch and allow it to cure for 20 to 30 minutes. Once the compound has cured, reclean the windshield and buff out any remaining damage.
- Clear Nail Polish – If You’re in a Pinch
We really don’t recommend using clear acrylic nail polish to repair your windshield, but there’s no questioning that it’s the easiest way to repair the smallest of scratches. Clear acrylic nail polish hardens as it dries, so there’s not much you need to do besides apply it to the affected area.
However, these aren’t the same acrylics that are in glass repair kits, so you should only use them for surface scratches. Since the laminate layer in the windshield doesn’t affect the windshield’s integrity, there’s no harm in opting for a lower-quality repair compound.
But if the actual glass layer is damaged, clear nail polish won’t protect the rest of your windshield the way an actual glass repair kit would.
What Caused the Scratch?
While determining what caused the scratch isn’t always that important, you want to ensure that it will not keep happening. Because the last thing you want is to repair the damage only for it to come right back because you didn’t address the cause!
This is extremely common when a windshield wiper is what’s scratching your windshield. Other potential causes are road hazards – which typically won’t be a reoccurring problem unless you’re constantly driving through an area with lower overhangs that scrape against your vehicle.
Just because you have a scratch on your windshield doesn’t mean you need to get a new windshield on order. While repairing scratches can take a bit of work and commitment, when you consider a new windshield can cost you anywhere from $200 to $1,000, it’s well worth the effort.
Just be sure that you have an unobstructed view of the road after completing the job and that you’re not misdiagnosing a scratch for a crack. Either problem can lead to even bigger headaches down the road!