Can an Ice Scraper Damage Your Windshield? – Beat the Frost

We’ve found ourselves in an arctic chill reminiscent of a close date with members of the prehistoric ice age. As Colorado natives, we consider ourselves used to the brutal winter mornings and crips afternoons. The sun is bright, the snow is white, and everything is frozen in sight. Your ice scraper is in hand and you’re ready to take the… land?

I ran out of rhymes there.

Though we may be built for this weather, things have been significantly rough in 2023. A record cold has been stretching across the region, and it’s not even the lowest the temperature has dropped in the past few months. Overall, it’s Hyperborean and harsh.

So, as I stand using an ice scraper with reckless abandon, cracking at the seemingly permanent ice on my windshield, I have to question the validity of the tool. It’s a great invention for these sub-zero mornings, sure. But at what cost? Does scraping a sharp tool across your auto glass have any long-term effects on your windshield’s health?

Should I use an ice scraper unless totally necessary? Or should I just wait, letting the nonexistent heat melt the block of ice known as my daily vehicle?

As an auto glass repair service, SLP knows about windshields. Let’s answer the question for those interested.

Windshields Are Strong… Really Strong

If you’ve ever cracked or damaged your windshield, you may have formed a bias and misconception of auto glass strength. Though reasonable, it’s important to remember just how durable auto glass truly is. Yes, a quickly thrown baseball may crash through a house window, but most flying objects are meant with significant resistance on the automobile front.

Excerpt from How Strong Are Modern Windshields? – Far From Frail:

Ultimately, car manufacturers put safety as their top priority when creating a vehicle. Sure, everything breaks under enough force, but modern technology has made windshields invulnerable to tensile stress and five times stronger than steel.

You heard that right. A sheet of glass pulled lengthwise is five times tougher than steel.

Now, this doesn’t mean that you should treat your windshield like it’s Iron Man. Though it may be stronger than steel, it’s not as strong as a tank. While impressive, this fact can be a bit misleading.

Every driver knows that a well-thrown rock can pierce through a windshield. A well-thrown rock will not pierce steel, regardless of the pitcher’s strength. So how is glass five-time stronger than steel? It has to do with malleability. Glass is stiffer than steel but brittler (hence the rock shattering it); glass takes more strength to bend, but once it bends, it’s easy to crack.

Therefore, semantics aside, your windshield is harder than steel in some ways. It’s still impressive, though. Windshields have come a long way over the history of the automobile, and they continue to become safer.

Henceforth, a plethora of technology and effort has been put into making your windshield as durable as possible. Windshield resistance is not some trick planned by Big Auto Glass, hoping that you have to get as many replacements as possible.

Therefore, if you are worried about an ice scraper doing damage, you are probably worrying too much. Windshields are tougher than initially thought may create. They aren’t brittle panes strapped to your vehicle with hope and crossed fingers.

So, Will an Ice Scraper Hurt It?

Ultimately, it depends.

The ice scraper itself is not hazardous to the auto glass. A correct and appropriate ice scraper should be a plastic wedge-shaped tool with a fairly thin ending. If it’s metal, it’s not for a windshield. Windshield-based scrapers are always plastic (or a softer material). A metal scraper will damage your glass (duh).

Inherently, your windshield is strong enough to deal with plastic pressing against it. The act of scraping should not cause any issue with your glass, whether immediate or over time. It’s a simple tool created for a simple purpose. It’s been used for decades without issue.

But, as the story goes, you can always damage glass with something. Theoretically, I could damage glass with a hot dog if I swing it hard enough. Therefore, if you use your ice scraper incorrectly (to an extreme level), you can cause damage.

Light-to-Medium Pressure

If you are facing a bone-chilling morning with stubborn ice, you may be willing to put immense pressure on your ice scraper. Anger and cold can lead to pressing extremely hard on the blade, pushing into the glass. Unfortunately, this is the quickest way to damage your windshield with a scraper. Don’t do it, regardless of how rushed you are.

If you press too hard, you could put enough pressure on the glass to chip it. If there is debris under the ice, you could be pressing it into the glass, cutting the outside pane.

For the best results, let your defrost run for 10-to-15 minutes to allow for the ice to soften. If you don’t have time, be very careful about how hard you are pressing.

Never Tap

If you have a solidified chunk of ice, you may be tempted to use your scraper to hit and tap the ice. Hitting the ice may break it up, but it’s more likely to cause pressure damage on your windshield. Therefore, you should never use your scraper to tap or hit the ice straight on.

Start your scraper from one part of the ice and continue on. Scrape starting with the section you already cleared, not just random spots on the ice. Never tap, hit, or crack the ice. It’s not worth the chance of breakage.

Can an Ice Scraper Damage Broken Glass?

If your windshield is already damaged with a chip, crack, or scrape, you may be hesitant to use an ice scraper at all. It makes sense; if a scraper can potentially hurt intact glass, using it on damaged glass will only exacerbate chances.

Is this true? Will an ice scraper make existing damage worse? There’s a chance.

While the correct usage of a scraper is unlikely to make damage significantly worse, incorrect usage certainly will. Push too hard on an existing crack and it’s likely to spread. Therefore, if you have damage, you need to make sure you are extra careful and soft around it. This caution can make the ice-scraping process longer and more arduous (than it already is).

There are a plethora of winter-based hazards for your windshield (we broke them all down here). If your windshield is already damaged, these hazards will only make it worse. Therefore, it’s important to get your windshield and auto glass repaired as soon as possible to avoid excess damage and excess cost.

A small chip or crack and be repaired with a resin injection (cheaper). If the crack gets too large, you will need an entire replacement. Therefore, it’s always cheaper and safer to get it fixed ASAP.

Get Your Glass Repaired!

Get your windshield or auto glass repaired before winter hazards damage it.

Time for self-promotion!

At SLP Auto Glass, we are committed to excellence in everything we do. We are passionate about ensuring that your vehicle is in a much safer state with a new windshield designed and installed with safety in mind.

As a full-service and locally-owned auto glass company, we care about our friends and neighbors. You can count on us for fast, efficient, reliable, and affordable auto glass services that are customized to meet and exceed your needs.

Reach out to us! We can give you a free quote ASAP.