Etching is small scratches that occur in a windshield. Not only is etching ugly, but it can also affect visibility and even the value of your vehicle. Understanding what causes it, how to avoid it, and how to repair it is very important.
One of the most common causes of etching is improper windshield wiper use. Old wipers have an uneven blade edge, which can trap debris and scrape it across the window. The result is heavily etched lines in the pattern of the blade movement. Using even new blades on a dry window can also lead to this type of etching, as grit is scraped across the unlubricated glass.
Etching also occurs due to exposure. Frequent exposure to high winds that blast sand and grit against the window can cause an etched haze to develop. Driving on dirt roads or parking in dirt lots frequently can also cause this issue. Acid etching is also an exposure problem. Acid rain, pollutants, and even the natural acids in bird droppings can all cause etching on the windshield.
Signs of Etching
It's usually quite obvious when severe etching has occurred. There will be a haze on the glass. It could be an all-over haze, or the haze may follow a pattern such as the rainbow-shaped path of the windshield wiper blades.
You won't be able to get rid of this haze via washing. In fact, dirt often gets stuck in the haze and the window may develop a yellowed cast that looks dingy. Visibility is usually impacted, especially at night or in direct sunlight when major glares can impact your sight lines.
Repair and Prevention
Minor etching that has only affected the top coating of the glass can sometimes be repaired. A mobile windshield repair service will apply a cleaner that removes any dirt stuck in the etch marks. They will then buff and polish the glass to remove the light scratches — effectively sanding the window smooth and then polishing it until it is clear again.
Deep etching can't always be repaired. In this case, the best solution is to have the windshield replaced and then take steps to avoid etching in the future. This includes changing the wipers often and always using wiper fluid if the wipers are engaged during dry weather. You may also want to cover the car when parked to prevent sandblasting from blowing grit.
Contact a mobile windshield repair and replacement service if you notice etching damage on your window.