Broken car windows need to be repaired or replaced as soon as possible. But there may be situations in which you have to continue driving the car before those repairs can be made. If you find yourself in such a situation, here are some quick and easy tips on how to protect and stabilize the window so you can keep driving your car without making the damage worse.
1. Vacuum up the glass.
If the driver or passenger window has been shattered, the first step is putting on a pair of gloves and vacuuming up the glass. It's best to use a shop vac if you have access to one because a residential vacuum can get damaged from broken glass.
If you're concerned about some lingering pieces after vacuuming, there are some tricks for getting up those last few stubborn shards. First, use a flashlight to shine around the interior. The remaining glass pieces will reflect the light, making them easier to see. Next, use some duct tape or a damp paper towel to blot up the slivers. Be careful not to apply too much pressure so you don't tear the seat.
Be sure to also vacuum around the door and the window seal to remove any stray glass bits that have become lodged between the glass and the door.
Lastly, empty the vacuum bag and carefully wipe down the hoses and nozzles to remove any glass pieces.
2. Wipe down the door frame.
Once you're sure the car is free of glass chips, use a soft, damp cloth and gently wipe down the door near the window seal to remove dirt and dust. This is to prepare the door for the tape that will be applied to protect the broken window. If dirt and grime remain as a residue on the door, the tape won't seal properly.
3. Cover the window with tape.
If your window is mostly shattered but still intact, the next step is to cover the entire window with clear packing tape. Be sure you only apply tape on the inside of the window since some tape adhesives have been known to remove paint.
Starting on one side, apply the tape so that it covers both the door frame and the window, going all the way across to the other side. Place the next strip a little higher, and keep going up with multiple layers until you reach the top part of the window frame.
The tape should stabilize the glass and hold it in place, preventing it from breaking further, until you can get it replaced.
Some people prefer to cover the window with cardboard since taping up four sides may be easier than covering the entire piece of glass with packing tape. There's nothing inherently wrong with this method. Just be aware that tape will give a better seal to keep out moisture—something that may be important in inclement weather, especially if it will be a few days before you can get your window replaced. You can also cover it with plastic if the car will be parked until it's fixed.
4. Temporarily protect a small crack.
If your window has suffered a small crack, you may want to seal it before getting it repaired, as hitting even a small bump in the road can cause it to shatter. There are a few ways to do this.
- Use packing tape to cover both sides of the crack, making sure the tape extends out and around the crack.
- Purchase a glass adhesive from your local auto supply store. The adhesive will flow into the crack, offering temporary protection until you can get the window replaced.
- If you have a chip in your windshield, and your insurance won't pay for a repair, you may not be able to afford a replacement right away. In the meantime, consider purchasing a windshield repair kit from an auto store. This can prevent the chip from spreading and leading to cracks in the windshield.
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