Hydrophobic Windshield Treatments

Wet WeatherIf you are like me, the worst time to be driving is at night in the pouring rain. It's like driving into a wet sack of coal! When another vehicle approaches, the glare of their headlights can be blinding. Hydrophobic windshield treatments can make it easier for a driver to see well in wet weather.

Windshield Treatments are Effective

A study by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute concluded that these windshield treatments can result in significantly improved driver visual performance.

The image below shows the treated side on the left and the untreated side on the right of the windshield.

image of rainy windshield showing action of hydrophobic windshield treatments

In the study researchers found that treated glass increased drivers' visual acuity by as much as 34 percent and cut response time to a test target from four seconds to three. A single second represents a significant margin of safety, since it translates to about 17 meters at 60 km/h.

Water Beads and Runs Off

There are a number of brands of these coatings on the market with a range of prices. They are applied to clean auto glass and then repel water, causing it to bead and stream off making it easier for wipers to keep the windshield clear and for you to see.

Helps Repel Snow and Ice

The treatment also helps to repel snow and sleet and make it easier to scrape ice off. Applying it to LED lights can assist in keeping them clean as well.

Basic Treatment is Economical

I have tried two types. The first was a bottle costing between $5 and $10 and the second was a kit for $80. 

A single treatment seemed to last me about a month and there were many re-applications in the bottle. The kit was not as generous.

Pre-Cleaning the Windshield

The only difficulty I found was in cleaning the windshield well before applying it. The kit came with special cleaning materials and instructions for their use. Bottle simply advised to apply to a clean windshield and the manufacturer did not answer my inquiry about proper pre-treatment cleaning.

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I once applied Rain-X treatment to a new vehicle windshield and hit a massive rain coming into Las Vegas, in the desert, 2 weeks after the application. I was very surprised how most of the heavy rain was being blown off by the oncoming wind driving about 100km/h. It was like a StarTrek warp drive scene, and I barely needed to engage the wipers at all.

But the effect was muted after the second reapplication and the third was like it didn't even matter, so I stopped. I suspect that a very thorough cleaning is required every time with a 99% isopropyl alcohol to achieve the best possible result.