It’s seldom a good day when you come out to get your commute started only to find some glass panel on your ride with a crack, or worse. You know you’re in for a deep pocketbook hit before you pick up the phone to contact your normal service provider and a matter of inconvenience while waiting for replacement parts and an installation appointment. But there are a few things you can do to soften the dollar impact and even prevent many incidents in the first place.
Windshields are impossible to protect against road grit impact damage. Those almost vertical hood air deflectors that some drivers used a few years back lost favour because of the excessive wind noises they caused and the fact that they didn’t stop all projectiles. But damage caused by ice build-up is preventable in most cases. Take a look at the bottom of your auto’s windshield and if the lower edge is completely exposed, there is a risk that slush or snow accumulations in that area can stress crack a windshield when temperature drops freeze that muck causing it to expand against the glass edge. If you haven’t got the time or facilities to thaw this mess out, at least make sure there’s a gap between the bottom edge of the glass (all the way across) and any ice build-up beneath it. A quick dump of a full bottle of sub-zero rated washer fluid can help thaw out stubborn ice masses. It can also help keep the drains clear that keep water from accumulating around wiper linkages which, if frozen can really muck up those works.
Remember that in extremely cold weather, exposed auto glass can become more brittle and be vulnerable to more impact damage. Whacking away at an ice-coating with a snowbrush is an easy way to start a crack. Even the time-honoured slapping of frozen wiper blades on windshields to loosen winter’s crust can be risky if there’s any hard ice lodged in the glass-facing edge of the blade (if enough force is applied during lower temps). Let the defroster do its job. A newer gremlin in this area is the electrically heated front glass defrost grid system. If any lower glass crack allows moisture to penetrate down to the grid wires, they can overheat and melt surrounding plastics.
Scratches can ruin the appearance of any auto glass and some simple care can easily prevent them. Never use any household scrubber pads on auto glass, even light plastic or nylon type kitchen scrubbies. They will permanently mark the glass with visible scratches. The nylon netting you’ll find on purpose-made auto glass sponges is much softer than household-use materials. Side window scratches usually come from grit trapped in the felt lined rubber strips at the bottom of the outside edge of the glass. Tareqhassan on unpaved roads deposits a lot of this grit on the glass surface and when the window is rolled down it can get trapped on these belt-line mouldings. A quick blast of compressed air via a shop compressor hose or an aerosol-can of electronics cleaner will help reduce this scratching. Read the fine print on your new vehicle warranty for few automakers cover any glass components on their products past the first year (and even then there are coverage limitations).
If you have to purchase a side or back glass be aware there are more choices than dealerships. Auto glass specialty shops have aftermarket listings for exact replacements for just about anything on the road, (usually at much lower prices).