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How and Why to Keep Your Car Windshield Clean

With Autumn here, and Winter to follow, the sun starts to sink lower in the sky, and as that happens, driving in heavy traffic becomes difficult and dangerous.

A good pair of sunglasses help hugely, but something that'll aid your visibility further has a clean windshield. Trying to see ahead is ridiculously hard when you have a dangerous combination of that low-lying sun - which always sits in the low position at rush-hour - a screen covered in smeared bug guts and general greasy road grime such as diesel and ice-melting salt, and the inside of the glass being dirty, and you've got a recipe for a car crash. It's even worse if it rains and then the sun comes out again, as it's now not on sitting at a direct eye level, but it's also bouncing it off the road, through your dirty windshield and dazzling you so much it's painful. So, what can you do to help make vision through your windshield better at this time of year?

First off, replace your windshield wiper blades.

If the rubber of your wipers is nicked (cut) in places, then they'll not clean the glass properly and will leave annoying streak marks across it. This impedes vision and doesn't help with glare.

Second, clean the inside of your screen.

If you've not done this in a while, you'll be surprised by just how much horrible grime will appear on the cloth once you have. Cleaning not only allows much better vision (obviously), but it also aids in the screen not misting up as easily when the temperature drops.

What products should I use to clean interior car glass?

I've tried lots of car-specific glass cleaners, but honestly, the non-smear household stuff is almost always as good. I've found that using thick kitchen roll works well as it's absorbent and effective at pulling away from the grime instead of pushing it about.

Thirdly, clean the exterior of the windshield.

This is very important, and if the road grime has built up over time, there's more to it than simply giving the glass a quick once over with the sponge and dirty water in a bucket from your local garage. Cold water does not clean diesel and oily deposits, and a sponge will barely touch the bug splats.

What products should I use to clean exterior car glass?

Using glass cleaner alone (the stuff you used on the inside) usually isn't enough. It won't cut through the heavier stuff, such as the aforementioned oily deposits and smeared sticky bug splats, very well, so there's a couple of products you can use. Before using these, though, give the glass a clean using washing-up detergent (Fairy, Stardrops, etc.) in hot water and a microfibre wash mitt. I normally don’t recommend this - certainly on bodywork - but they are highly effective at their job: cleaning away heavy grime build-up.

Next, car glass polish is readily available from good car valeting/detailing stores, and this is used to cut through the grime quickly and effectively, leaving a spotless screen. I find it best to use a normal glass cleaner to finish off the job and remove any polish excess polish residue.

Finally, use a glass sealant.

"What's one of those" you may be asking. It sounds; the product will chemically react with the glass surface, bonding to it to create a strong but invisible layer of protection. This means the glass is now hydrophobic, and water will sheet (slide) off the glass almost as soon as it touches it. As the car speeds up, the more effectively the rain clears, and weirdly the heavier the rain, the more effective it is - so much so that you barely need to use your wipers. Glass sealant also means that bug splats are far more easily removed, and road grime will be wiped away without trouble. A decent glass sealant should last for a good few months so that reapplication won't be necessary very often.

After you've accomplished all of these steps, the glare should be much less severe than on a dirty windshield, and it'll ensure that vision through it when it rains heavily will be so much better. The result? A safer and far less stressful drive for you.

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