Tip Sheet

Here's how to deal with dreaded windshield scratches

In all my years of lovingly bringing back cars to life, there's nothing more unsightly than having scratches on your windshield and windows. Even more so when you notice after you've thoroughly detailed the entire vehicle. I even coined the phrase "Gasgasin mo lang pintura ko, huwag lang ang salamin"! 

Well, no one would want either, but repairing your scratched paint is much easier than repairing your scratched windshield. Can you really make those scratches on your glass disappear?

The most common way of acquiring scratches on your windshield is via wiper usage. We're all guilty, at one point or another, of accidentally turning on our wipers on a dry day. Sand and abrasive debris usually get caught between the wiper blades and your glass; the last thing you want is to create friction between the two. Even through years of proper wiper use, it will be inevitable to get wiper marring on the surface.


Another way of getting your glass scratched up is through improper or poor cleaning. Always use a microfiber towel when wiping your windshield and windows. The pros use nothing less, and for good reason.

Based on personal experience, you can also get really bad scratches from a window tinter's cutter or X-acto knife! Whether you just purchased a new vehicle or are having your old tint replaced, I highly suggest you supervise the job and remind the tinter to be very careful with your auto's glass. Tell him any damage will come out of his own pocket.

Given the circumstances mentioned, the extent of the damage can be determined via running your fingernail across the scratch. Anything deeper than 50 microns isn't technically fixable. In simpler terms, if your fingernail catches the scratch, it's too deep to be completely removed. Otherwise, there's a good chance your windshield can be completely restored with any of the following:

*A professional shop. Based on field research, most auto glass suppliers/installers and detailing centers shy away from repairing scratches due to the risks involved. They'll often tell you to just live with it or go for a pricey replacement.

However, some shops and companies do offer solutions. Ziebart Philippines, for example, offers a scratch removal process wherein a technician uses a polishing system capable of effectively removing shallow scratches.

*Do-it-yourself: Here's a more rewarding—albeit extremely painstaking process—which will save you a lot of your hard-earned money. Think of me as Mr. Miyagi and, you, a student under my tutelage.

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I learned this technique from online forums a couple of years ago, back when I was preparing my previous car for sale. I had the option of experimenting with a buffer/polisher and some compound, but recalled the disaster a reputable auto glass shop did on a car's windshield using the same process. Let's just say the results looked hideous under direct sunlight as some areas were marred so bad that the windshield needed an immediate replacement. 

The key here is approaching the problem with a high degree of reserve and precision. You cannot rush the process and attain desirable results.

My product of choice was Glass Science Glass Scrub (initially designed for stripping your glass of stubborn stains, marks and grime). It's abrasive enough to slowly cut away at the surface when rubbed in long enough sans marring.

Working a small section at a time with my index and middle finger wrapped with a damp microfiber cloth, I made my forearm and hand mimic the rotational motion of a polisher, maintaining even pressure throughout as I applied minute amounts of the product at a time while occasionally misting the windshield with distilled water using a spray bottle. You must not allow product or treated surface to dry while doing so as this may result in very fine scratches visible under bright light.

After three long days of exhausting scratch-removing, patience and a near-empty bottle of Glass Scrub, I was quite pleased with the results. Unfortunately, I never trained myself to be ambidextrous so I ended up with a leaner, more ripped right arm!


Of course, you can always Google for other solutions such as using an acrylic scratch remover (more like scratch-filler) for light scratches, or using cerium oxide for deeper scratches, but these chemicals aren't readily available from local retail shelves. On another note, I heard that Rhodite Windshield Scratch Remover Kit is available somewhere locally, but I can't give you a firsthand testimony regarding its effectiveness (it requires using a polisher and not everyone has one). 

What I offer are economical methods that combine practicality and availability, resulting in a satisfactory outcome—tried and tested in a home garage, for every Juan motorist. Scrub on! Scratch off!


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PHOTO: Vincent Coscolluela
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