When you think about vehicle maintenance, your windshield is probably one of the last things to come to mind. But you can weaken your windshield or even damage it by failing to care for it properly.


Since your windshield provides up to 30% of your vehicle’s structural strength, it’s imperative that it remain in excellent condition. Otherwise, it may not be capable of helping your airbags deploy properly or supporting the roof of your vehicle in the event of a collision or rollover.


Not sure you’re maintaining your windshield properly? The auto glass repair experts at Only 1 Auto Glass explain six ways you might be inadvertently damaging your auto glass and what you should do instead.


1. Not Replacing Your Windshield Wiper Blades Regularly

How often do you replace your wiper blades? Every six months to a year? If not, you may be damaging your windshield without knowing it.


The rubber on your wiper blades deteriorates over time, and as it does, the metal component of the blade begins to make contact with your windshield. Even if you don’t notice an audible scraping sound while your wipers operate, that metal may be etching tiny scratches into your auto glass.


If you’re in the habit of neglecting your wiper blades, you should have your windshield inspected for signs of damage that may weaken the glass. If a technician locates scratches, windshield scratch repair is a quick, simple, and highly affordable procedure that will help protect the integrity of your auto glass and by extension, the integrity of your vehicle.


2. Allowing Dirt and Debris to Accumulate on Your Windshield

Letting your windshield get dirty might seem harmless, but even small amounts of debris and dirt can etch tiny scratches in the glass over time. Keeping your windshield clean and clear will help maintain the integrity of your auto glass by preventing minor scratches from forming.


If you notice your wiper blades aren’t cleaning your windshield efficiently, it’s time to replace them. You should also top up your wiper fluid at every service interval or if you notice your fluid sprayers are emitting a low-pressure stream of fluid. 


3. Improper De-Icing

There are a few safe ways to de-ice your windshield, and if you’re doing it improperly, you’re probably weakening your auto glass. To de-ice your windshield safely, you can:


  • Use a plastic scraping tool designed specifically for de-icing
  • Use your defroster on a low setting to help melt snow and ice
  • Use alcohol or room-temperature water if you’re in a hurry and don’t have the proper de-icing tools on hand


If you’re pounding or hacking at the ice on your windshield, even if you’re using a plastic tool, use minimal pressure instead. And if you’re in the habit of cranking your defrost to high, opt for a lower temperature setting instead and gradually increase the temperature as the glass warms up.


Harsh de-icing methods can create small chips or cracks in your auto glass, which will necessitate prompt windshield repair. Without immediate attention, the damage is likely to spread with exposure to temperature fluctuations throughout the day.


4. Using the Wrong Cleaning Products

Cleaning your windshield with the wrong products can be just as bad as not cleaning it at all. Harsh cleaners that contain ammonia or detergents aren’t designed for auto glass, especially if your vehicle windows have tint. These types of cleaners can create a buildup of film on the surface of your windows or cause streaking, which can impede your visibility on the road.


Using sponges or towels to clean your auto glass can also cause damage. Because they can trap small rocks and other pieces of debris against the glass as you clean, using these tools puts your windshield at risk for scratches.


To avoid windshield scratch repairs, always use cleaning products that are specifically designated for auto glass. And if you do notice a scratch or two, schedule an auto glass repair appointment promptly to maintain the integrity of your windshield.


5. Exposing the Glass to Dramatic Temperature Fluctuations

If you park outdoors throughout the year, chances are you’ve exposed your auto glass to some pretty wild temperature fluctuations (which can sometimes occur in a single day). And those fluctuations can easily put your windshield at risk for damage.


How? Imagine dropping an ice cube into tepid water. What happens? It cracks like crazy because its suddenly warmed outer layer rapidly expands while its inner layers stay cold and unchanged (a phenomenon called differential expansion). The tension between the various layers ends up essentially tearing the cube apart.


Like an ice cube, your windshield has layers, and when its outer layer is exposed to a dramatic temperature shift, the same phenomenon can occur. That’s especially true if the glass already contains minor damage, such as a small chip or crack, that may be more prone to spreading as the glass naturally expands. 


How do you prevent this from happening? Ideally, you’ll want to park in an enclosed area whenever possible. If you don’t have a garage (or you have one but it’s packed with stuff), parking under a vehicle tent can help, too. In doing so, you’ll avoid exposing your windshield to direct heat from the sun, as well as snow and ice accumulation during winter, which will help keep the temperature of the glass more constant.


Check out these other parking places you should avoid if you want to keep your auto glass in great condition.


6. Using Gas Station Squeegees to Clean Your Auto Glass

Just because gas stations have squeegees available for cleaning windshields, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should use them.


Why not? Because the cleaning liquid doesn’t get changed out nearly as often as it should. When dozens or even hundreds of drivers use those squeegees every day, lots of dirt, sand, and other debris can accumulate in the cleaning solution and get lodged in the squeegee sponge, too.


When you scrub your windshield with a dirty, debris-laden sponge, you may end up inadvertently scratching the glass. And if you do this on a regular basis, you could end up with tons of abrasions in your windshield that refract light and contribute to vision-hampering glare.


Want to keep glare at bay? Check out our top tips for keeping your auto glass scratch-free.


Need Windshield Repairs In The Twin Cities? Visit Only 1 Auto Glass

If you notice your vehicle has minor windshield damage, bring it to our team at Only 1 Auto Glass. We specialize in windshield scratch repair, chip repair, and crack repair and if you can’t come to us, our mobile repair team can come to you.


To get started with your repair, give us a call at 651-789-1111, request a free estimate, or contact us online for more information.