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Having an unobstructed, clear view out your windshield is always critically important, and never more so than during the winter months. Just a few minutes of basic maintenance before the poor weather starts can help insure the best possible visibility during the shorter days and longer nights of winter.
Your windshield should always be kept clean, but especially so in the winter. Dead bugs, sap from parking under trees and even bird droppings all make it hard to see out, and can be hard to remove completely. A clean rag and some vinegar can usually loosen up any residue that has been left on the glass. If you live where it’s cold in the winter, frost, snow and ice left on the windshield while you drive can make navigation downright dangerous. Always completely scrape and clear snow and ice, from all your vehicle’s glass, before getting underway. Don’t forget to clean the inside surface of your windshield completely and regularly. Film from smoke and other substances builds up inside over time and can significantly reduce visibility. Glass cleaners containing vinegar make the task quick and easy.
If there is residue on your windshield that just doesn’t come off, stop by the dealership to see what options we can provide for you.
With the glass clean inside and out, don’t forget to remove any leaves or twigs that may be left in the inlets at the base of the windshield. These will restrict airflow into the cabin that is needed for heating and defrosting the inside of the windows. Some older vehicles also have windshield washer jets mounted below the trailing edge of the hood which can be blocked by leaves.
If the clean glass has any cracks or divots, these should also be taken care of by a professional auto glass repair facility. Small cracks and divots can now usually be repaired, without replacing the entire windshield, by injecting a polymer into the crack and then polishing the surface after it cures. Many dealerships now offer this service to their customers.
Many auto insurance companies will even pay for these small repairs without charging any deductible because it can reduce the risk of future accidents. Check with your insurer to find out about their policies and take advantage of a free repair if it’s available.
Over time, exposure to road sand and other debris can cause thousands of tiny pits and scratches in windshield glass. During the winter months, when the sun is lower in the sky, or at night, these pits can cause reflections that dramatically reduce visibility, even if the glass is clean. If your windshield has deteriorated like this, it may be time to replace it entirely. Of course, windshields with large cracks or star fractures should also be replaced immediately.
With the glass in good clean condition, it’s important to keep it that way. Windshield wipers are made of rubber and, just like tires, they need to be replaced periodically – usually at least once a year. To keep the windshield clear and streak-free, the rubber blades need to be free of cracks and cuts, and the rubber needs to flex to follow the curved contour of the glass.
Oxidation and long-term exposure to the sun will cause wiper blade rubber to harden and crack. Just as with tires, winter temperatures also cause rubber to stiffen. Like winter tires, winter wiper blades are made from different rubber formulations that stay pliable in sub-freezing temperatures, and they often have covers or shrouds over the wiper frames to prevent ice build-up. When you buy wiper blades, make sure you get the right size for your vehicle. If you have a hatchback, station wagon, van or SUV with a rear wiper, don’t forget to replace that blade as well, so you can see out the back.
Remember to keep the windshield washer fluid reservoir full throughout the year. It’s especially important to use a de-icing washer fluid during the winter months to prevent the fluid from freezing. These fluids typically contain some ethanol or ethylene glycol to lower the freezing point. Washer fluid is inexpensive, and it’s a good idea to keep a couple of extra gallons on hand so you can top off your washer fluid tank in between visits to your dealer’s service department.
It doesn’t take much effort to maximize your visibility, so spend a few minutes to care for your windshield and wipers. If you live in the snowy North, don’t forget to put an ice-scraper in the car. If you stop by today, we’ll help you keep your car ready for anything.