How to Handle a Broken Car Window

Taking care of broken car glass is not something that anyone wants to do. But protecting the window until you can have it repairs is an important step. Whether it was shattered by hail, a smash and grab incident or an accident, every car owner should know how to take care of the problem.

For most situations, it’s not a safety issue to drive with broken car glass, but it should be repaired or replaced as soon as possible. In the meantime, you should clear away the broken glass and cover the window. This doesn’t restore the security of the vehicle in case of theft, but can protect the interior from bad weather and excessive wind.

Supplies Needed for Covering a Broken Window

  • Thick work gloves,
  • One roll of masking tape, and
  • Micro-fiber cloth.
  • A high-density plastic trash bag can work just fine as a temporary cover for a broken window. The temporary car window cover won’t provide good visibility until you can get it replaced. But using a clear transparent plastic bag will at least allow you to see light and color in your peripheral field.
Steps for Temporarily Covering a Broken Window

1. Preparation

First, put on a pair of work gloves to protect your hands before handling glass shards. Get a bag or container which will make it easier to dispose of or recycle the material.

2. Remove the Broken Glass

Start by clearing away the larger pieces of glass. Use your hands to collect and toss the shattered pieces into the bag or container. Gently break away the remaining glass still attached to the car. Then, use a shop vac to vacuum the smaller pieces of glass from inside the car, around the window frame, and down inside the seal. The long vacuum attachment is helpful for reaching the small shards in the carpet, on the seat and inside the car door.

3. Clean Around the Window

Next, you will need to prep the surfaces around the window for good adhesion. It’s important to clear away dirt, dust and buildup so that the tape covering will stick well. Use a damp cloth to clean the window seal and the car frame on all sides. Allow this area to dry for a few minutes.

4. Position the Plastic Covering

Then, from inside the car, position the plastic over the window frame. Hold the bag against the top edge of the frame and fix it in position temporarily with a few small pieces of masking tape. Avoid using other types of tape as they can damage the car’s paint or become difficult to remove from car glass later.

5. Secure the Plastic Covering

Prepare six to 10 longer pieces of masking tape. Smooth the plastic flat and pull it towards one side of the frame of the car. Use one piece of tape at a time to firmly attach the plastic around each side of the window. The plastic should be stretched taught and not leave slack in the surface which will flap in the wind and cause noise while driving.

6. Seal the Window Covering

Next, use extra pieces of tape to reinforce the seal around the window. A second layer of tape will also help keep the plastic covering in place even if there is moisture or strong air pressure as you drive. Make sure there are no holes between the plastic and the window frame where air and water can leak in. Gaps will increase the likeliness of the plastic tearing before you can get the window fixed.

7. Add a Second Layer on the Outside

If the temporary covering will need to hold up for multiple days, over the weekend or in bad weather, it’s best to add a second layer of plastic. Repeat steps four to six with another plastic covering from the outside of the window. That should complete the process of covering a broken car window.

Safety Concerns

Be aware that covering a window decreases the driver’s range of vision. If a window is broken, decrease your speed and drive with extra care.

Never inhibit the driver’s visibility by covering a window with dark or opaque materials. Do not attempt to cover a broken windshield.

Remember, this is only a temporary solution. To protect the car and its passengers, it’s best to replace the window promptly.