It's that time of the year again when monsoon rains and typhoons bombard the archipelago. Car owners beef up on car care in order to protect our vehicles' exteriors and interiors from Mother Nature's onslaught, but most tend to overlook windshield care. This shouldn't be the case because visibility is very crucial for safety on the road.
Glass detailing is somewhat unknown to most car owners who tend to think that having the occasional car wash at their favorite shop, or using the basahan method is enough to keep the windshield in tip-top condition. Oftentimes, these guys equipped with a wash mitten and hose don't have a clue, and a lot of us—myself included—learned the hard way when caught cruising down a dark highway on a stormy night. Not being able to clearly see your path given all the obstacles and obstructions we put up with on a daily basis can be extremely nerve-wracking.
Thankfully, our market now gives us choices to help solve our glass issues. Though windshields are built to last, we need to learn the proper methods of maintaining them. It's pretty simple, provided you have the right products and know-how to use them. You'll later realize that this will also save some of your hard-earned pesos down the road—not to mention your life.
If your vehicle just rolled off the showroom, it doesn't mean that a glass detail should be shrugged aside. In fact, it's best to examine your windshield for whatever it may have picked up in transit from the factory to the dealership. I've always believed that prevention is better than doing a fix later on, so it is crucial you get a good start by keeping your windshield and windows spotless from the get-go. You'll find it easier to maintain from this point on as long as you use a good cleaner like Glass Science Rain Clear on a regular basis.
For those of you who have neglected your glass bits, here are ways to bring back their clarity, allowing for safer, stress-free driving under various conditions.
First things first, check your wipers before the rainy season kicks in. No matter how spotless your windshield may be, warped wipers could mean serious trouble for you when a sudden thunderstorm meets you on the road. What's worse is the combination of bad wipers and a crappy windshield while running into the bright lights of incoming traffic, as the grimy glass surface and running wipers disperse beams throughout your visual perimeter rendering you momentarily blind of what's ahead. Yikes!
So do inspect your rubber blades for any damage or deterioration and, if still intact, bring them back to life by wiping them down with Glaz No Squix. It will lengthen the lifespan of your wiper blades aside from cleaning and keeping them gliding smoothly during use, sans the annoying squeaks and jitters. Based on my experience, I recommend using Bosch Aerotwin wipers for their durability, performance and ability to withstand our extreme weather.
The combination of the elements, dirt, pollution, acid rain, bugs and tree sap leave a film of grime that, when left untreated, becomes a very stubborn layer of gunk that will totally affect your visibility especially during a downpour. To solve this issue, you can apply the following methods:
1) Claying. The use of a clay bar was something I picked up as I was learning to detail paint some years ago. Through experimentation, I later discovered that it is quite effective on detailing glass as well, and it turns out to be a very easy method. The only things you'll need are a clay bar made by brands like Turtle Wax (cheapest), Mother's or Meguiar's, and a spray bottle of glass cleaner or distilled water. Here's how:
a) Clean the surface of your windshield first before applying this method.
b) Knead the clay bar with your hands to make it more pliable, then flatten it out.
c) Spray the glass surface with cleaner/distilled water, then rub clay bar in a circular motion on affected area. Add light pressure as you do so, maintaining wetness on the surface. Clay should glide with ease. Once you start feeling it stick to the glass, spray on more cleaner/distilled water.
d) Wipe dry and inspect results.
e) Repeat when needed.
This works great in removing gunk and water marks.
2) Glass scrub. Scrubbing can be used in combination with claying especially if the latter isn't removing the stains that have set in from years of abuse or neglect. Glass Science makes an excellent scrub. I find it safer than using compounds, which cause marring (rubbing compounds aren't designed for glass in the first place). Here's how:
a) Ensure you start with a clean surface.
b) Wet the area with some distilled water before applying product.
c) With a damp microfiber towel, squeeze in a peso-coin-sized amount then begin scrubbing away in circular fashion. Again, pressure should be mild. Never allow the surface to dry up while doing so.
d) Rinse off with water, and wipe dry with a clean microfiber towel.
3) Acid rain and watermark removers. This is usually my last resort when the other methods don't bring you exceptional results. I just don't simply recommend the use of harsh chemicals to inexperienced folks. Improper use could harm you or your car's paint and trim. Exercise extreme safety when applying this technique, paying very close attention to detail. There are two products in the market that I've tested: one by Zero Stain and another by Microtex, whose before and after photos are below. My daily driver, given my dedication to maintenance, didn't require such a treatment so I resorted to the family utility vehicle, which needed so much love. Here's a step-by-step guide:
a) As always, ensure the glass surface is thoroughly cleaned.
b) With these products, you will have to wear protective gloves to avoid burning your skin, and do the work in a well-ventilated space away from direct sunlight.
c) Have a clean microfiber towel/sponge applicator pad ready.
d) Add a few drops of the watermark remover onto the towel or applicator.
e) Start spreading product evenly on your windows and windshield.
f) Make sure the product is applied evenly in circular strokes on the glass surface only, avoiding your moulding, plastic trim and paint.
g) Once you've covered the entire affected area, rinse off thoroughly with water, wipe dry and inspect.
4) Water repellent protection. Once glass is in perfect form again, you can protect and increase its water repellent capabilities by using Turtle Wax Rain Away or Glass Science Rain Repellent Gel. Application of these products is pretty straightforward as long as the glass is all that's coming in contact with the product. When put to the test in actual driving conditions, I ended up not using my wipers as water beading was very evident.
5) Washer fluid. After going through all that trouble of perfecting your glass bits, it is essential that you fill up your washer reservoir with the ideal washer solution. Please don't use tap water, or dishwashing or laundry soap mixed with tap water. The minerals in tap will stain your windshield and possibly clog your washer line. There are a few off-the-shelf solutions that are priced reasonably and will compliment your glass detailing regimen. A few that I recommend are Microtex Wiper Wash, Turtle Wax Clearvue Windscreen Wash, Rain-X All Season Windshield Wash (it's hard to find here, though) and my personal favorite, Glass Science Ultra Clean Windshield Washer Super Concentrate. These are all ready to pour except Ultra Clean, which requires dilution in distilled water. May I remind you not to make the boo-boo of filling your radiator coolant reservoir with washer fluid. Trust me, I've seen it happen before.
6) Anti-fog. Unless you'd like to do a repeat of that famous "steamy" scene inside a vintage car between Jack Dawson and Rose DeWitt Bukater in the film Titanic, then Rain-X Interior Glass Anti-Fog is for you. Easy to apply and is great on side and rearview mirrors, too.
Driving should always be an enjoyable experience under varying weather conditions. Having a clear view of what's ahead gives you priceless confidence as you head toward your destination safely and soundly.