Don’t Scratch the Vinyl or the Windshield: How to Remove Scratches from a Windshield

It happens to almost everyone who owns a vehicle at some point in their driving life. You are driving down the freeway or behind a truck and a pebble chips or scratches your windshield. Or perhaps you don’t know where you got a small ding from, and now that spot has morphed into a small, hairline crack.

While getting a new windshield sounds excellent after you get a few dings or scratches, the average cost of getting a new windshield ranges from around $200 up to $1,000 depending on the type of car you drive.

New car prices can be on the high end for this replacement if they are luxury vehicles. Repairing it yourself likely seems like a reasonable option. So, you are left wondering how to remove scratches from windshields. Fortunately, the process is relatively straightforward.

1. Buy a Windshield Repair Kit

Before you begin, get a windshield repair kit from your local auto parts store, or check around online. Most packages will contain a buffing compound with cerium oxide, which helps to fill in tiny chips and cracks and prevent them from further spreading.

Many of these sets will come with buffing pads that can be attached to a drill, turning your power drill into a temporary buffing tool. Kits tend to range in price from $15 to $40, and many will come with most of what you need for the repair job. In addition to the kit, you will need a corded drill, protective gloves, goggles, and a fume or dust mask.

2. Wash the Windshield and Remove Grime

Before getting started on the sealing portion of the repair, you must clean your windshield. Use a mild vinegar and water mix and thoroughly wash the windshield. Dish soap can wear down the paint of your car, so only use car safe cleaning agents.

If you have any areas with tough grime or sticky sap, you can carefully use a plastic scraper to get them off, and then wipe them down to clean it again. Metal razors can scratch glass, so avoid using them. Allow the glass to dry completely before sealing.

3. Cover the Edges with Painter’s Tape

Get a roll of painter’s tape—one inch wide should work fine, but you can purchase thicker painter’s tape if you prefer. Carefully apply it to the border of the windshield to protect the rubber weather-strip and the paint of your vehicle.

Painter’s tape will remove easily and will not peel up the finish of your car. Be sure to protect the full edge of the windshield if you are repairing several areas, but do not apply the tape to the glass itself. If you are only fixing one spot, you can use the tape only near that location.

4. Make Sure You’re Safe

When you are ready to mix the repair solution, put on latex or vinyl gloves, a dust or fume mask, and safety goggles. The powder can make dust in the air, and you want to protect yourself from breathing it in. Buffing can also fling the compound around a little, so protect your eyes. Your hands can get a bit messing during the application and buffing process, and cerium oxide is an irritant. Gloves should be worn.

5. Mix Repair Kit Compound

A small amount of cerium oxide can go a long way. Mix the powder with warm water, only enough to make a toothpaste-like consistency. You can start with roughly one tablespoon of the powder for 1/3 to 1/2 of the windshield, or two tablespoons to cover most of the glass. Blend the compound until it is smooth for spreading.

6. Apply and Buff

Apply the paste and buff with the pad and buffer attached to a drill. Cordless drills do not usually have enough power, so use a corded model. Keep the buffing pad flat and move back and forth while buffing into a smooth surface.

7. Wipe Down with Cloth

Using a microfiber cloth, wipe the excess paste off your windshield. Inspect your work. If you are happy with it, remove the painter’s tape and clean off any remaining spots of the compound that were missed before.

Like New Windshield

Used car values are often so much more affordable than brand new cars; it can be easy to overlook a scratched windshield. If the crack is not severe, this is a simple fix and can give you a sheen to the glass that may not be brand new quality but can look fresh and undamaged.

Whether you bought your vehicle off the lot, are leasing one, or used a car finder and purchased one that needs a little TLC but doesn’t require full-coverage insurance, fixing up a windshield can be done at home in under an hour and for a low price.