Fixing Scratched Glass – Part 1

It happens to almost every windshield, as well as many other panes of glass on a vehicle: scratches.  Scratches are inevitable. This is especially true in rough environments like sandy places, construction sites, extremely cold areas (where scraping ice leads to scratches) and highways. In fact, highway driving is a very common cause of windshield scratches. So, what can you do? This article will look at the types of scratches and how to determine if you can fix a scratch in your windshield.

In the next article, we will compare different methods of fixing scratched glass. I will do an actual comparison using the different techniques I’ve found to remove the scratches.

Can I Fix It?

Glass can be damaged in many ways. It can be shattered, chipped, cracked, and scratched. Shattered glass includes holes and the complete destruction of the integrity of the window. This can be caused by flying debris such as rocks, metal objects, bits of road fragments, and possibly even bullets (or BBs and pellets). You MUST replace the shattered glass.

Chipped glass usually occurs when road debris, rocks, or other foreign items strike the glass, but only take a small chunk of glass out of the windshield. Sometimes, chipped glass can be fixed if the hole is small. Companies can fill the chip with a special chemical mixture to fill the chip and keep the hole from spreading.

Cracked glass is an actual split or break in the glass. Usually, this creates a line. That line continues to grow if not treated or fixed. Usually cracked glass must be replaced.

Scratches are the least destructive of all of these. A scratch can usually be repaired by using cutting and buffing compounds (and a lot of patience). However, some scratches are very deep and cannot be fixed by the average person. Also, some scratches cannot be fixed, even by professionals. Sometimes the glass needs to be completely replaced.

How to Test a Scratch

So how can you tell if you can fix a scratch yourself? I researched this and found a simple test you can do. Simply glide your fingernail over the face of the glass. If you fingernail snags or catches when you glide your fingernail over the scratch, the scratch is too deep to fix, and you will need to replace the glass.

Ways to Fix a Scratch

If the scratch passes the fingernail test (your fingernail does not catch in the scratch), there are a few ways that you can fix the glass. Essentially, all of the ways included a certain degree of cutting and buffing the glass.

The following ways to fix glass will be examined in detail and compared. In the next article, the results will be presented.

The solutions include:

  • Cutting Compound and Pumice
  • Toothpaste
  • Cerium Oxide paste

I found these solutions after much research. I am skeptical of all of these solutions, but I will test them out on my own 1931 Model A Ford, and I will report the results.


Scratched glass is not the end of the world. Many times it can be fixed using one or more solutions. Usually, this involves highly polishing the scratch with fine abrasives. Look for the next installment of this series for the results of the three methods above.



Written by Gary Pradel