Piston Slap: Clicking and Clacking About Glass

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
piston slap clicking and clacking about glass

TTAC commentator and contributor David Holzman writes:

Like just about everyone else whose car is at least four years old, my windshield (1999 Honda Accord) is pitted enough to make driving into the sun a real chore. What can I do about it, if anything?

I tried some glass polish from one of the big mail order car stuff places, in Wash. State I think. (I’m blanking on the name, but I used to get their catalog). Cost about $20, didn’t do squat.

BTW, Car Talk got this question in the last two years, said there wasn’t anything you could do. That’s hard for me to believe.

Sajeev answers:

Click and Clack said what? Glass refinishing products come in varying strengths, so there is a product for every need. In theory.

The less aggressive ones are commonplace, and they don’t require using a buffing wheel. The more aggressive polishing compounds use tougher cutting material and a power tool. I have not used any of these, but there are a variety of restorers from the Eastwood Company and I suspect the one for deep scratches will easily fix your problem. Just watch out, it’s aggressive enough (just like wet sanding a paint job) to cause hazing and scratches if you don’t use it correctly. The quality of labor is key.

So maybe Car Talk is right: anyone with a late model car should consider replacing the glass instead. For $250 or less (not much more than Eastwood’s treatments, if you include labor) you can have a professional replace the glass and warranty their work. After all, this is a late model Accord with plenty of aftermarket support, not a boat-tail Riviera.

[Send your car queries to mehta@ttac.com]

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4 of 34 comments
  • Petrol42 Petrol42 on Apr 30, 2009

    To clean the inside of the windshield, you need a product like this: http://autogeek.net/glass-surface-cleaner.html What you need to do is first clean the surface with an ammonia free glass cleaner such as Stoner's Invisible Glass. Ammonia affects car window tint and although the windshield doesn't have tint, you run the risk of using this stuff on the tinted parts. After cleaning the surface, you need to buff off the haze with a Microfiber towel on a FLAT surface as this is the only way to get the haze completely off. If you use your hands and a Microfiber towel, you can't apply even pressure and there will be streaks of haze. Also, someone mentioned this but its essential that you don't use fabric softner on Microfiber as this prevents the Microfiber from being absorbant. As for the pits in your windshield. You could try a system like this: http://autogeek.net/diglkitforma.html Although this probably won't get out the deep pits in your windshield, It might clean it up to the point where you might not notice the pits. One last thing, I'm an amateur car detailer and from my limited experience, I've found that hard water has a profound affect glass and at night, these tend to look like pits. To get these hard water spots off, I would have to use a clay bar. You might want to try the clay bar first because it would be your cheapest solution. You could find Mother's Clay Bar kit which now includes 2 clay bars and a bottle of Quick Detailer that is used as a lubricant for under $20 bucks. btw, if you don't know what a clay bar is, its this: http://www.mothers.com/02_products/07240.html

  • JohnHowardOxley JohnHowardOxley on Apr 30, 2009

    Like several other commentators, I find that Invisible Glass and microfiber towels intended for window cleaning do a bang-up job with very little elbow grease. Of course, since I have the extended leather option on my car, I may well have less plastic outgassing than those with vinyl seats and cladding.

  • Wheatridger Wheatridger on Apr 30, 2009

    Joe O and Robstar must live in the mild, humid climes of the Eastern US. Not out here in the windswept Great Plains or mountain states. In Colorado, a fresh windshield will show pitting after a month of driving, or, if you're unlucky, a day. It's a constant irritation, but we in the Scenic States live in a usually invisible fog of airborne dust, sand and worse. I've often thought you could do a good scrap business hauling rust-free used cars to the east and unblemished used windshields back westbound. I'm contemplating a new windshield, but I know it will be painful to watch the replacement get its first pockmarks. But one unexpected side benefit of owing a New Beetle is that the windshield is so far forward, the road rash doesn't force my eyes to refocus away from distance vision so much as in a regular car.

  • Rpn453 Rpn453 on May 01, 2009

    To eliminate fog on the inside of the window on my Mazda3, I modified the defrost vent (blocked off the center) so it blows air in front of the driver and passenger instead of just up the center of the window. You know, kind of like how they used to make them. I also modified my HVAC unit so that the A/C only comes on when I turn it on, so I can run air onto the windshield constantly without running the A/C. Other than that, I just wipe the inside of the window regularly with a cotton cloth or an old shirt. As for the pits on the outside, I just accept them. As long as I have sunglasses on, they don't seem to impair visibility enough to be a big concern. Of course, I never follow large vehicles closely enough to hear the constant pelting of particles on the window, nor do I drive beside them. I get by them or allow them to pass me as quickly as possible. I also pull onto the shoulder a little whenever I meet a large vehicle on a two-lane highway to avoid the big sandblast.