My experiences with car ownership over the past 30 years have included plenty of issues with windshields. Rock chips, stars, and bullseye dings, pitting and abrasion wear that accelerates more rapidly at the track, vandals, and various other incidents have warranted repair or replacement to many a windshield. Dealing with the issue is time-consuming and a replacement windshield is typically never as well installed and/or comparable in quality as the original. So when my new car was on its way I began researching ways to protect my windshield from at least some of these concerns. My search led to ClearPlex invisible windshield protection film.
ClearPlex is a multi-layer and optically clear transparent film that adheres to the windshield, and works in much the same way as autobody film protects the paint on your car. It is designed to cushion impacts that can damage unprotected glass, leaving only a minimal pin-point on the film. ClearPlex is scratch-resistant and stands up to everyday abrasions, such as from windshield wipers or highway "sandblasting." Its UV stabilizers also decrease the amount of heat accumulation in your vehicle, its polarized finish helps to reduce glare, and it is guaranteed not to peel, bubble, crack or yellow.
ClearPlex can be easily installed on your car’s windshield by a qualified technician in less than an hour. A template of your windshield is cut, allowing the correct amount of film to be cut to size. The film is then squeegeed onto your windshield over a waterbased glue, and then a heat gun is used to thermally fit, contour and bond the product to the glass. ClearPlex can be easily removed at the end of its useful life, and a new piece can be installed.
It has so far saved me one or two windshield trashing occurrences on the highway, as well as heavy abrasion pitting caused by intensive sandblasting at track days. Based on the film’s current condition, it should last one or two seasons since the car in question is used during the spring, summer and fall only. Incidentally, a friend of mine who has used ClearPlex on his winter-going vehicle has been very pleased with the results too; he even uses a scraper on it to remove frost from the windshield (note that the scraper edge must be in perfect condition).
ClearPlex does demand a certain amount of care. One must keep windshield wipers clean, and only use them in the wet or with washer fluid to ensure smooth action over the windshield. Hard impacts with sharp rocks can cut the surface slightly; if that happens these burrs must be very carefully smoothed out using a razorblade just enough to make them slightly smoother to the touch. I recommend washing by hand with soap and water, and do not use a powerwasher closer than two feet to the surface (especially around the edges). Spray wax is great for getting off stubborn bug guts, and it conditions the film surface too, so use it regularly on the entire surface.
So what are the real-world downsides, besides the minor amount of care? There is an ultra-minor distortion visible when focusing directly at the windshield from inside the car (but since you’ll be looking well past this when driving, it isn’t really noticeable), very faint prisms occur along lines in bright sunlight, and there is a mild cornea-effect with lights at night.
But overall, it’s a great product, and I will certainly re-new the film when the smooth clear surface begins to deteriorate over time.
Special thanks to the guys at Refine Automotive Salon in Calgary for the expert install. Doug Neilson