How to Fix Scratches in Auto Glass in 7 Steps

How to Fix Scratches in Auto Glass in 7 Steps

Minor scratches in windshields and vehicle windows can sometimes be fixed at home with basic supplies. (Here’s our opinion on DIY methods for glass repair). If your vehicle’s glass has shallow scratches, one of three products might help you remove or reduce the scratches. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to apply these products.

  1. Check the depth.
  2. Gather supplies.
  3. Clean the scratch.
  4. Mark the scratched area.
  5. Prepare the repair product.
  6. Apply the repair product.
  7. Clean the window.

Step 1: Check the Depth

First, check the depth of the scratches with your fingernail. These do-it-yourself applications only work with minor scratches, which usually are too shallow to catch your nail. If you can feel the scratch as you run your fingernail over it, you’ll likely need to have a professional auto glass repair facility look at it. They have more advanced tools and compounds that can take care of deeper scratches and cracks.

Step 2: Gather Your Supplies

Assuming your vehicle’s scratches are shallow, you can get the supplies needed. You’ll want:

  • water
  • glass cleaner
  • soft cloths
  • a spatula
  • small bowls
  • dry-erase marker or tape
  • drill with rubber polishing wheel

(Some of these items, especially the latter ones, are optional but make the repair work much easier.)

You’ll also need the scratch-repair product itself, of which there are three options:

  • clear acrylic nail polish – which many people have but only works on the shallowest scratches
  • cerium oxide – which is the best product for most minor scratches but few people have on hand
  • baking soda and white toothpaste – which can work but often requires multiple applications

Acrylic scratch remover can be used instead of clear nail polish, but it does about as good a job and most people don’t already have scratch remover. Cerium oxide is a sealant and polish that’s used on glass, metal and ceramic. It’s often called “jeweler’s rouge” and is relatively inexpensive for the amount that’s needed.

Step 3: Clean the Scratch

Before actually repairing the scratch, make sure there’s no debris that’ll interfere with the bond between the repair product and glass. Thoroughly clean the scratched area with the glass cleaner and a soft cloth. (There’s no reason to clean the entire glass at this point, as you’ll likely get fingerprints and some product on the glass while repairing the scratch.

Step 4: Mark the Scratched Area

As the repair progresses, it can become difficult to see where the glass was scratched. So you always know where you should be working, mark the scratched area. The easiest way to do this is by outlining the scratch with a dry-erase marker on the opposite (undamaged) side of the glass. Alternatively, you can place a piece of tape on the opposite side.

Step 5: Prepare the Repair Product

Now is the time to prepare the repair product you’re using. This will vary slightly depending on the product your using, and you can skip this step if you’re using an acrylic product.

For cerium oxide, use a spatula to mix the powder with water in a small bowl. Combine the two ingredients until they form a slurry that’s the consistency of Elmer’s Glue. Keep additional water on hand in case the slurry begins to dry out during the repair.

For baking soda and white toothpaste, use about 1 teaspoon of baking soda and a quarter of a standard toothpaste tube. Mix together with water until a slurry is formed and the baking soda is no longer detectable. Keep all items on hand, as you’ll probably need to mix up more for additional applications.

Step 6: Apply the Repair Product

With the product ready, you can start repairing the scratch. The precise steps you should follow depend on what product you’re using. (Be sure to follow any included instructions that are available when using a repair-specific product.)

If using acrylic scratch remover or nail polish, fill the scratch in and wipe away any excess. The product should dry hard and clear, and there should be minimal buffing needed.

If using cerium oxide, fill the scratch in begin gently buffing it. The drill and rubber polishing wheel make buffing much easier. Continue filling in the scratch with more cerium oxide and buffing until the result is a clear and smooth repair. For best results, apply the cerium oxide to a cloth and then to the scratch. If the solution gets elsewhere on the glass, it can actually cause small scratches.

If using the homemade mixture, follow the instructions for cerium oxide. Be even gentler when buffing, though, and plan on going through many more applications.

Step 7: Clean the Window

Once the repair is fully made, wipe away any repair product that remains and clean the window. You can clean the entire window at this time. The result should be a clear glass without scratches in it.

Major Auto Glass Repair

If you have more significant scratches or these products don’t work, your vehicle’s glass likely needs to be professionally repaired. Let us at Anthony Volk Glass take care of the scratches for you. We’ve been performing auto glass repair for three generations and would be happy to repair your vehicle’s windshield or windows. Call Anthony first at (610) 436-9727 or use our online quote request form.

We look forward to helping you!

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Anthony Volk

Anthony Volk is a third generation auto glass installer born and raised in West Chester, PA. With over 20 years of personal auto glass experience he and his team will bring that experience to you.