How to Take Care of Your Car's Windows

While the matter might seem trivial, there are a lot of misconceptions regarding the entire car window business with a disastrous effect on the owner's (that's you) budget. Here at autoevolution we feel that prevention is the mother of all “cures” and that is why we'll try to teach you how to take care of your windows and what to do if trouble comes your way, or better yet, your car's way. Let's start off by talking glass as the windshield, rear and side windows are not made of the same material. Well, glass is still the main component, but it's the type of glass and number of layers that sets them apart. Normally, cars feature a windshield made of laminated glass and the rest of windows, including the rear one, of tampered or toughened glass. Some of the latest models, predominantly hatchbacks, have rear windows made of laminated glass as well. The laminated glass has a sandwich-like structure with two layers of glass held in place by an interlayer of PVB, polyvinyl butyral for those of you who know a thing or two about chemistry. The major benefit is that impacts usually produce spider web-type cracking patters preventing it from shattering into pieces. Tampered glass, however, while still treated to offer more strength, shatters into many pieces, albeit not in sharp shards. Cleaning
There is a lot of debate related to what type of glass cleaner should one use with the car windows, but the general opinion is that it's better to avoid ammonia-based products. The two major reasons for not using them are the incompatibility with tinted windows and the harmful effect on vinyl surfaces, leather and rubber. Add to this mix the release of toxic fumes in enclosed spaces such as the car's interior and you'll understand why most people stick with ammonia-free products. Look for cleaners clearly stating they are safe on window-tint film and you and your car should have no problem.

Now that you have chosen the weapon of mass cleaning you need an agent to deliver the goods. Avoid picking any cloth you find in the house or the garage and purchase a microfiber glass towel with a tight weave. A word of advice: don't buy the cheapest ones as the frustration caused by the fiber residue will reach unbearable levels.

You can start with the side and rear windows and leave the windshield, which is more difficult, for last. Roll down the windows halfway and make sure you clean the edges as well. More importantly, remember that the interior is just as important as the exterior. The same goes for the rear window, provided that it's made of tampered glass.

Now, moving on the most important element that requires your attention, the windshield. While you will use the same products and the same movements as for the side and rear windows, an additional step will most likely be necessary, namely the removal of the water spots. These are mineral deposits resulting after the water evaporates and can be removed using a special glass polish applied by hand or with a polisher.

We've talked about cleaning, but the car itself can ease your job if you take care of some tiny details. Introducing the rubber wipers! When the car is new they are in mint condition, but as time passes they degrade and lose their abilities. First of all, you need to clean them regularly, just like you do with the windshield itself. Even so, both extremely high and low temperatures will decrease their performance to the point they actually damage the windshield. You can prolong their life by purchasing special wiper products that keep the rubber soft and more efficient. Another trick you can do to make the wiping process more efficient is to add special concentrated additives to the regular washer liquid.

Cracking the Ice

Winter is an extremely difficult time of the year for the car's windows, which also means that you are not doing great either. Every morning, a layer of ice covers all windows and it takes some convincing to make it go away. Naturally, if you have a decent car you will turn on the ventilation system and select the defrost model. Speaking of which, although the automatic mode will turn both the temperature and the air speed to the highest settings, you will speed up the process by using a lower setting on the latter. Moreover, some models are fitted with a so-called de-icer, which relies on the electric system to melt the ice on the windshield. However, you need a lot of patience before it melts away and there's another problem most people don't know about. Cracks in the windshield caused by pebbles propelled by other cars will expand because of the dramatic temperature change. There are some people who actually claim that the aforementioned temperature change can shatter the windshield even if it's intact, but they forget that the hot air is not blown immediately after you start the engine. It takes some time before it's heated.

You might be tempted to spray some of that specially formulated wiper liquid that will speed the thawing process. However, another problem arises. If your car is fitted with intelligent windscreen wipers that are automatically activated whenever liquid is sprayed through the hood's nozzles, you will damage the wipers as they scrape against the ice.

Apart from tons of specialized de-icing products that can be used to thaw the ice, this next method might save you some money and actually prevent the ice from forming. Mix in a sprayer bottle a solution with one part vinegar and three parts water and every day when you return home, spray some on the windows then wipe off the excess. You'll have a pleasant surprise in the morning.

If you have an older car not fitted with a defrosting system, don't have any special products to spray onto the windshield and are in a hurry, here's something you should never do. Don't make the mistake of throwing hot, boiling water over the windshield as you'll risk cracking it due to the extreme temperature difference. Also, show some diplomacy and avoid the hard way of removing the ice with sharp objects as you will most likely scratch or crack the windshield.

The Big Problem

Unsurprisingly, the worst thing that could happen to your windshield is cracking and we're referring to major ones. It is vital for your windshield that you take care as soon as possible and more importantly, before winter settles in, of any chip or minor crack you spot and here's why. Differences between outside and inside temperatures, vibrations, shocks caused by potholes and bumps, all of these will continue to expand that tiny crack up to a point when repairing the windshield would be impossible. And that's all the advice we can provide on this matter. When a tiny crack occurs, get it fixed fast. We won't get into details as to how these small cracks are fixed, but a professional will have them done in no time, so don't delay!
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