Posted on: 3 September 2018Share
If you spend a lot of time driving on old forest service roads and backcountry tracks to get to your next hike or mountain adventure, you are likely well acquainted with windshield damage. The gravel on these unmaintained roads can easily fly up and chip your windshield, which can lead to the need for an expensive replacement. The following tips will help you protect your windshield from the type of damage that is common when driving to a trailhead.
Tip #1: Install a deflector
A deflector is a small shield-like item that is installed onto the front of your car's hood. Most deflectors are darker in color, and they are designed to give your car a sporty look, so it won't detract from the car to install one. One issue with many modern cars is that they have a low-slung hood that slopes quickly to the front windshield. While this does wonders for aerodynamics and fuel efficiency, it also makes it more likely for gravel to be kicked up the hood where it will chip the glass. A deflector prevents this. As its name implies, the gravel will skip up onto the hood only to be deflected away.
Tip #2: Increase your distance
Although you can kick up your own gravel and damage a windshield, it's much more likely that any gravel that chips your glass will actually be kicked up by a vehicle in front of you. Most people know the rule to leave one care space between them and the next vehicle for every 10 MPH of speed. This is a great safety rule on paved roads, but on rougher back country roads you should double or even triple this distance. Gravel that's thrown up can travel quite the distance, so leave plenty of space, so the rocks don't land on your car.
Tip #3: Top off your washer fluid
Dust and dirt on many back roads will settle on your windshield, making it difficult to see. Make sure you top off your windshield wiper fluid before every trip. Then, ensure that you actually spray the fluid before turning on the wipers. Using wipers on dusty, dry glass is a sure recipe to leave deep etches in the glass from scraping the sand across the windshield. You want to spray the fluid first, so it acts as a lubricant and prevents the etching. Etched glass can't be repaired, so it's worth it to always top off the wiper fluid.
If you do get a rock chip, take it to a cracked windshield repair service immediately. Often, chips can be repaired if they aren't too big, which is less expensive than replacement.