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How to Properly Maintain Your Windshield

We'll show you how to clear your dash cam's view

Have you ever encountered blurry dash cam footage, even when your dash cam is brand new or newly cleaned? You can’t help but wonder – “I’m running a 4K dash cam, but why is my footage still unclear?”

Some of our customers have experienced this, and the culprit?
The car’s dirty windshield.

If this has ever happened to you, or doesn't want this to happen to you, we are here to help you fix it. So in this article, we'll discuss the role of windshield cleanliness, and best practices for keeping your dash cam's view crystal clear.

First, let’s go over some FAQs on dash cam clarity

Why is my dash cam unfocused?

An out-of-focus dash cam can be frustrating, as it can degrade the quality of your recorded footage, which ruins the purpose of a dash cam. There are a few possible reasons why your dash cam is unfocused, such as smudges on the camera lens, moisture buildup, an odd angle, or poor dash cam installation.

Why are there light streaks in my dash cam video?

Noticed light streaks in your dash cam videos? Reflections from dirt, dust, or other particles on your windshield often cause these. External light sources, such as the sun or headlights from other vehicles, can interact with these particles, leading to streaks that distort the video quality, giving a tearing effect across your windshield, pronounced even more by your dash cam lens, as the streaks interact with the windshield’s curve.

Here, we recommend using a CPL filter for your dash cam to reduce glare and reflections. On the windshield, you can also apply an Aqua Shield to stay protected against dust, rain, and other environmental elements. Still, those are mainly band-aid solutions, so read on to get to the heart of this issue.

Why does my dash cam not supply the same quality as the ads?

It's not uncommon for users to notice differences in video quality between their dash cam footage and the captivating advertisements they've seen, especially if you’re victims of fake 4Ks. While there can be multiple factors at play, one significant element to consider is your windshield.

Advertisements typically showcase dash cams in ideal conditions, but the real world can be quite different. Dash cam lenses are designed to capture crisp footage through a clean and unobstructed windshield. However, if your windshield is scratched, dirty, or obstructed by stickers, or even tinting, it can distort the incoming light and affect the camera's image quality.

Additionally, certain types of windshield tints or coatings might not interact well with the dash cam's sensors, resulting in less-than-optimal video clarity, or grain.

Beyond that, camera specifications, and even post-processing techniques can all contribute to differences between advertised and actual dash cam footage. If you want the best quality videos, we recommend you get a 4K dash cam with a Sony STARVIS 2 sensor like the Thinkware U3000, or VIOFO A139 Pro. Good with 2K? The VIOFO A119 Mini 2 will do the job for you, too.

How Windshields Affect Dash Cams

A streaky or dirty windshield can have a significant impact on your dash cam footage. It might not only cause distorted visuals and obstructed sight, but it can also jeopardize your overall driving safety. If your windshield is dirty, it reduces visibility for both you and your dash cam, perhaps missing important details that could make or break an event.

How often should I clean my windshield?

Another question we get is how often does the windshield need to be cleaned. For us, maintaining maximum dash cam performance requires a regular windshield cleaning plan.

Various factors, including your driving environment, weather conditions, and regular use determine cleaning frequency. If you routinely drive through dusty or muddy places, you may need to clean your windshield more frequently to ensure a good view.

With average use, cleaning your windshield every couple of months is ideal.

Are standard cleaners enough to fully clean my windshield?

While ordinary household glass cleaners can be helpful for regular cleaning, they may not be sufficient for maintaining a clear and streak-free windshield.

Specialized automobile glass cleaners are made to remove difficult grime, grease, and filth without leaving behind any trace. We recommend you use these car care products, so you can keep your windshield clean like a pro.

Our Step-by-Step Guide to Cleaning Your Windshield

Top Things to Have and Consider

✅ Specialized automotive glass cleaners (of course, we want the best results)

Microfibre towels

✅ Mild, standard bottled soap

✅ Water

Vinyl Scraper

✅ Shaded or mild weather environment (for optimal cleaning conditions)

Step 1: Choose the Right Time and Place

Park your vehicle in a shaded area or wait for a day with mild weather. Cleaning your windshield in direct sunlight or extreme temperatures can cause cleaning solutions to evaporate quickly and leave streaks.

Step 2: Gather Your Cleaning Supplies

Next, ensure you have all the necessary materials ready, including the automotive glass cleaner and a microfibre cloth. If you don’t have them, you can stick with soap and water.

Step 3: Prepare the Windshield

Begin by using your hand or a brush to gently remove any loose debris, such as leaves, dust or dirt, from the windshield's surface. This will prevent scratching the glass during the cleaning process.

An initial pass with a basic soap solution can help break down and remove stubborn dirt and grime on the windshield. Start by wiping the windshield with a cloth dampened with mild soapy water.

Step 4: Apply the Glass Cleaner

Spray the glass cleaner evenly onto the windshield's exterior surface. Here, we recommend using Meguiar's Perfect Clarity for professional-grade glass cleaning results, or Rain-X Automotive Glass Cleaner suitable for tinted windows. Start from the top and work your way down to ensure complete coverage.

Step 5: Wipe the Windshield

Take a microfiber cloth or lint-free towel and fold it into a manageable size. Beginning at the top of the windshield, gently wipe the glass in a horizontal or vertical motion. Choose one direction and stick with it for consistent results. Apply gentle pressure while wiping to remove dirt, grime, and streaks. Avoid pressing too hard, as this can leave micro-scratches on the glass.

Step 6: Inspect for Streaks or Smudges

After wiping the windshield, step back and inspect it for any streaks or smudges that might still be visible. If you notice any imperfections, reapply the glass cleaner and use a clean section of the microfiber cloth to wipe away the streaks.

After using glass cleaner, it's a good idea to give the windshield a final rinse with clean water. This helps remove any remaining cleaning solution or residue. You can lightly mist the windshield with water and wipe it down with a clean, damp cloth. Make sure to follow up with a dry towel to prevent water spots.

Step 7: Interior Cleaning

This is important, but mostly forgotten. For optimal results, you should also clean the interior side of the windshield using the same process, your dash cam has to see through both sides of your windshield after all!

Repeat all steps, and after cleaning, allow the windshield to air dry for a few minutes. Avoid using the windshield wipers immediately after cleaning, as this can spread residual cleaning solution and create streaks.

Streaking and how to remove them

Streaks on the windshield can occur due to several reasons, such as improper cleaning technique, using too much cleaning solution, or using a dirty cloth. Sometimes, streaks won’t show themselves until after the job is done, and light hits the windshield from a different angle, so keep your eyes peeled. Thankfully they can be removed, with a little bit more elbow grease, and the following steps.

    • Re-clean: If streaks appear, start by re-cleaning the affected area using the glass cleaner and a clean microfiber cloth. Apply gentle pressure and use circular motions to remove the streaks.
    • Use Less Solution: Using too much cleaning solution can leave streaks. Use a minimal amount of glass cleaner to avoid over-saturating the surface.
    • Change Cloth: Sometimes, streaks can occur if you're using a cloth that's not completely clean. Switch to a fresh, clean microfiber cloth to ensure a streak-free finish.
    • Check Lighting: Sometimes streaks become more visible in certain lighting conditions. If you notice streaks indoors, take your vehicle outside in natural light to assess if the streaks are still visible.
    • Buffing: Gently buff the glass with a clean, dry microfiber cloth after cleaning to ensure the removal of any residue and to achieve a streak-free shine.

Clean Windshield for the Win!

And once the windshield is dry and clear, it’s time to test your dash cam to ensure that it captures high-quality and unobstructed footage. Ensuring that your windshield is clean keeps your dash cam footage clear, so you have to do it regularly. For best results, we recommend using the right materials like the Car Care Essentials.