Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Is Your Windshield Sandblasted?

Photo of a sandblasted windshield with the headline: “Is Your Windshield Sandblasted?”

Most windshield damage happens fast, whether it’s a stray piece of gravel out of nowhere or a hail storm wreaking general havoc. But one type of damage happens slowly, over time, so you may not even notice it at first: Sandblasting is the result of dust and near-microscopic debris pitting your windshield over time. When the air is thick with particles, you may see or hear the dry spray against the glass. These tiny fragments aren’t large enough to cause a crack, but they’re still capable of etching pits into the surface.

These pits are most visible when sunlight or oncoming headlights shine through them, lighting up small sparks of illumination on the surface of the glass. If the damage is extensive enough, it may look like a general haze that won’t wash off. It’s not good news: a blasted windshield usually has to be replaced. In this article, we’ll show you how to minimize the risk of windshield sandblasting and discuss options for dealing with the problem.

How to Minimize the Risk of Sandblasting

Many drivers go their whole lives without falling victim to significant sandblasting, while others have to replace a windshield every couple of years. Frequent sandblasting like this is usually the result of driving in very sandy, windy environments, and if that’s where life takes you, there may not be much you can do about it.

Tailgating is the more common cause of sandblasting; following other vehicles too closely makes it more likely you’ll catch some of the dust being kicked up by their tires. The closer you are to them, the harder the impacts are likely to be. And let’s face it: the real danger of following another vehicle too closely is that you dramatically increase your odds of a collision.

How to Keep a Safe Following Distance

Illustrated graphics show one car behind another on open road, demonstrating how to derive the distance between the vehicles by counting the number of seconds that transpire between the first and second car passing a road sign.

The simplest way to calculate safe following distance is to start counting off seconds (one-Mississippi, two-Mississippi, etc.) as the vehicle in front of you passes a sign or other landmark. Stop counting when your vehicle passes the same landmark. Keep in mind that 2-4 seconds is a bare minimum; the farther you are from other vehicles, the lower the risks.

This trick is effective at any speed on dry, smooth roads, but when you’re driving at night, in rain, or in other conditions of poor visibility, make 4 seconds an absolute minimum. Make it 10 in heavy rain or when driving on ice or snow. Granted, your windshield probably won’t be etched under those conditions, but it’s the safe way to drive.

Can it Be Repaired?

Although small areas of shallow etching can, technically speaking, be buffed out, a sandblasted windshield usually has to be replaced. It’s best get a professional opinion from a certified windshield technician.

Protect Your Paint

If you’re one of the dusty-terrain drivers who has to replace a windshield every year or two, the dust is probably taking a toll on your paint, as well, so keep an eye on it. While there isn’t much you can do about the windshield, you can cover the vehicle’s body with paint protection film. This transparent, urethane “force field” will keep dust away from the vehicle finish, and it can be installed for far less money than a new paint job.

Finding the Right Auto Glass Shop

Windshield replacement requires genuine skill, so be sure to hire a shop with certified technicians. The windshield is a critical part of your vehicle’s roll-over protection system, and certification classes teach technicians to install auto glass according to the guidelines specified for each vehicle by its manufacturer. A sub-par installation not only jeopardizes passenger safety, it can also place stresses on the glass that can cause it to crack.

There are other factors that require genuine expertise, such as electrical connections, rearview mirror calibration, and so on. Training and experience are everything, so look for a shop that’s been around for a while and has a good reputation in the community. A little research goes a long way.

If you’re looking for an auto glass shop in Wichita, Kansas, you can’t do any better than The Glassman ( They also perform windshield repair, so you may be able to save some money if your damage doesn’t require complete replacement.

Good luck, happy driving, and please don’t tailgate!

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