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  #1  
Old 06-06-2011, 07:50 PM
Grateful-UnDead Grateful-UnDead is offline
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How to clean car windshield?

I recently bought a new car; now the inside surface of the windshield is coated with a fine milky white film.

I have tried everything I can think of to clean it off, to no avail. All I have managed to do is to smear it around, and with the passage of time, the problem is getting worse.

I have tried: Windex; turpentine; water solution of each of: dish detergent, floor cleaner, vinegar, ammonia, bicarb, alcohol, and various combinations of these.

Also, used each of the above with paper towels, newspaper, terry cloth, shammy.

Nothing works.

Any suggestions?

Thanks in advance.
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  #2  
Old 06-06-2011, 08:02 PM
Joey P Joey P is online now
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If Windex and a commercially available auto glass cleaner like Invisible Glass glass didn't do the trick, and it was new car from a dealer I'd bring it back and ask them to take care of it. I also wouldn't mention all the other things I've tried if I were you.
My guess is that it's off-gassing from the dashboard and if I had to take a guess, I'd say you need a solvent like Naptha/lighter fluid/goo gone/nail polish remover.
But like I said, I'd take it to the dealer and not say anything like "I tried floor cleaner and it didn't help at all".
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  #3  
Old 06-06-2011, 08:08 PM
UncleRojelio UncleRojelio is online now
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Have you checked that you don't have a leak in your heater core? A heater core leak will put a mist of coolant on your windscreen.

Barring that, try the ArmorAll window cleaner. My wife swears by it.
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  #4  
Old 06-06-2011, 08:14 PM
GaryM GaryM is offline
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I had a windshield replaced a few years ago and the fellows who did the work swear by "Sprayway Glass Cleaner"

I'd also recommend using microfiber cloths for the cleaning.
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  #5  
Old 06-06-2011, 08:15 PM
Grateful-UnDead Grateful-UnDead is offline
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I took it back to the dealer, but they said: "New cars do that; it will go away."

They checked the radiator, head gaskets etc, etc. They found no mechanical problem, but they did agree that it is a combination of off-gassing and road film passing through the ventilation system.

I tried Armorall, and it didn't touch it.

I haven't tried lighter fluid, but sounds like it could be a fun thing to do. Could entertain the neighborhood too!
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  #6  
Old 06-06-2011, 09:02 PM
CookingWithGas CookingWithGas is offline
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Acetone is my go-to solvent.

Be careful what you use, though. Once I used a degreasing solution on my windshield that etched it. I later found very tiny print on the back of the jug that said not to use it on glass.
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  #7  
Old 06-06-2011, 09:09 PM
notfrommensa notfrommensa is offline
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*Disclaimer* I have not tried this.

A former acquaintance of mine cleans the inside of his windshield with diluted rubbing alcohol.
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  #8  
Old 06-06-2011, 09:10 PM
SanDiegoTim SanDiegoTim is offline
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What are you wiping the glass with?
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  #9  
Old 06-06-2011, 09:17 PM
salinqmind salinqmind is offline
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Oh good, I can ask two questions:

1) I was driving at night and something, I have no idea what, hit my car windshield. A big bug? It made a real 'splat' and the next morning I saw blood in a big streak across the glass. I washed it off. Surprise, there is still a white streak of something on the glass, and it's like etched in the glass. I looked at it in daylight and scraped it with my nail, and nothing came off, it's like etched with acid. Any ideas of what hit my windshield, how to get it off? Weirdest thing...

2) Will ArmorAll take deodorant off the vinyl on the door, just below the window? I confess on a hot day I grazed it with my armpit putting the tube in the bank chute, can't help if I'm short.
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  #10  
Old 06-06-2011, 09:18 PM
Grateful-UnDead Grateful-UnDead is offline
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Note the OP in which I detail what I have tried already:

I tried both isopropanol and methanol (no way I was going to waste the drinking variety!!!!)

Also used various different wiping materials, note above.

All that happened was that the white film was just smeared around.
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  #11  
Old 06-06-2011, 11:05 PM
Gary T Gary T is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CookingWithGas View Post
Acetone is my go-to solvent.
BINGO!! We have a winner.

Seriously, use acetone and fine steel wool.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Grateful-UnDead View Post
I tried Armorall, and it didn't touch it.
Armor All protectant?

I'm astounded. Not that Armor All didn't clean it, but that anyone would use a protectant, clearly designed to leave a layer of stuff on the surface it's applied to, as a cleaner. Didn't touch it? Probably made it twice as bad.
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  #12  
Old 06-06-2011, 11:19 PM
Askance Askance is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary T View Post
Armor All protectant?

I'm astounded. Not that Armor All didn't clean it, but that anyone would use a protectant, clearly designed to leave a layer of stuff on the surface it's applied to, as a cleaner. Didn't touch it? Probably made it twice as bad.
No. See post #3: ArmorAll Window Cleaner.
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  #13  
Old 06-07-2011, 12:10 AM
JFLuvly JFLuvly is offline
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Did you try the windshield washer fluid?
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  #14  
Old 06-07-2011, 12:22 AM
The Second Stone The Second Stone is offline
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Windex and paper towels several times, then Fog-X
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  #15  
Old 06-07-2011, 02:34 AM
Grateful-UnDead Grateful-UnDead is offline
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Acetone and steel wool????

In reading the posts, I am surprised that it seems that I am the only one that has experienced this problem. Surely my car isn't the only new car on the road?

However, I will try those commercial cleaners which I haven't already tried; thanks for the suggestions from all.
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  #16  
Old 06-07-2011, 02:46 AM
toofs toofs is offline
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Acetone and 0000 steel wool will get it. Put a towel on the dashboard making sure it covers the entire dash because acetone will soften most plastics and painted surfaces.

Stoner Invisible Glass is awesome with a microfiber towel. Invisible Glass and the microfiber towels are both available at Pep-Boys, Autozone, etc.

Start with Invisible Glass first. Clean the windshield a few times, flipping the microfiber towel around frequently to expose a clean surface.
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  #17  
Old 06-07-2011, 05:46 AM
lazybratsche lazybratsche is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grateful-UnDead View Post
In reading the posts, I am surprised that it seems that I am the only one that has experienced this problem. Surely my car isn't the only new car on the road?
I don't think this is at all normal for new cars -- my bullshit detector went off when you said that the dealer told you it was common. Of course my sample size is pretty small so I could be wrong.

But if I were a car manufacturer I would work damn hard to ensure that my customers could see through their windshield. This kind of thing is a possible liability, leaves a very bad impression on customers, and is probably worthy of a recall if it happened frequently to some particular model.
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  #18  
Old 06-07-2011, 06:36 AM
Khendrask Khendrask is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lazybratsche View Post
I don't think this is at all normal for new cars -- my bullshit detector went off when you said that the dealer told you it was common. Of course my sample size is pretty small so I could be wrong.

But if I were a car manufacturer I would work damn hard to ensure that my customers could see through their windshield. This kind of thing is a possible liability, leaves a very bad impression on customers, and is probably worthy of a recall if it happened frequently to some particular model.
It actually is pretty common. Most of the time the film is caused by the outgassing of the plastics used in the interior. It is exacerbated by hot weather and running the A/C. Some cars show it more, some people see it more, but it is almost always there.
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  #19  
Old 06-07-2011, 06:49 AM
don't ask don't ask is offline
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I use Rain-X 2 in 1. If you use it a couple of times to clean the windows you can then carry it around and spray it on whenever it is raining. If it doesn't rain for weeks spray it on in the morning, throw over a jug of water and run the wipers. Works like a charm.
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  #20  
Old 06-07-2011, 07:26 AM
bucketybuck bucketybuck is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grateful-UnDead View Post
I took it back to the dealer, but they said: "New cars do that; it will go away."
Wut?

My career to this point has been spent in dealership service departments and I have never heard of this.
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  #21  
Old 06-07-2011, 08:31 AM
Chefguy Chefguy is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grateful-UnDead View Post
I took it back to the dealer, but they said: "New cars do that; it will go away."

They checked the radiator, head gaskets etc, etc. They found no mechanical problem, but they did agree that it is a combination of off-gassing and road film passing through the ventilation system.

I tried Armorall, and it didn't touch it.

I haven't tried lighter fluid, but sounds like it could be a fun thing to do. Could entertain the neighborhood too!
They did all that, but didn't offer to clean it off? I'd go back and tell them you want it removed or you want a new windshield. Take it to the ownership, if necessary. This is clearly some mutant funk. The products you've tried should have cleaned it up.
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  #22  
Old 06-07-2011, 09:26 AM
Dewey Finn Dewey Finn is offline
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If it's not too late, make sure to note your dissatisfaction when you get the survey call from the car manufacturer. I bought a car last year, and I got the impression that the dealer really, really wants you to say good things about them when the manufacturer calls. (I think the call is about a month after you get the car.)

Also, try calling the manufacturer directly.
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  #23  
Old 06-07-2011, 12:55 PM
Arrendajo Arrendajo is offline
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Originally Posted by don't ask View Post
I use Rain-X 2 in 1. If you use it a couple of times to clean the windows you can then carry it around and spray it on whenever it is raining. If it doesn't rain for weeks spray it on in the morning, throw over a jug of water and run the wipers. Works like a charm.
I think the OP is talking about cleaning the inside of the windshield.
I had a problem with this after I bought my new Honda Fit. The problem was exacerbated by the sharp slope of the windshield and the large shelf-like dash area. I simply couldn't reach the inside of the windshield very well to clean it. I got it clean OK with Windex and paper towels, but it was really awkward. The problem lessened over the next year or so and now I don't need to clean it so often. The slope of the windshield also makes the film more obvious and annoying; if it were more vertical it wouldn't be as big a problem. I found the ArmorAll glass cleaner wipes didn't work any better than Windex and paper towel. I finally bought one of those microfiber pads on a stick (as advertised on TV!) so I could reach the inside windshield without contortions.
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  #24  
Old 06-07-2011, 01:05 PM
gallows fodder gallows fodder is offline
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Why steel wool on glass?
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  #25  
Old 06-07-2011, 01:38 PM
kenobi 65 kenobi 65 is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by salinqmind View Post
1) I was driving at night and something, I have no idea what, hit my car windshield. A big bug? It made a real 'splat' and the next morning I saw blood in a big streak across the glass. I washed it off. Surprise, there is still a white streak of something on the glass, and it's like etched in the glass. I looked at it in daylight and scraped it with my nail, and nothing came off, it's like etched with acid. Any ideas of what hit my windshield, how to get it off? Weirdest thing...
Are you in the South? It sounds like it might be the remnants of a "lovebug". Their "splats" tend to leave a white mass (I think it's the female's eggs), and are acidic; they can etch paint or glass if left on the car for a while.

We were driving with my father-in-law in Florida (in his brand-new car) about 6 weeks ago, and it turned out to be lovebug season in the Tampa area. He was pretty upset about it, and, as soon as we got back to his house, he immediately scrubbed all of the dead bugs off of his car.
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  #26  
Old 06-07-2011, 04:48 PM
salinqmind salinqmind is offline
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No, I'm in the Northeast, no lovebugs that I know of... It's the darndest thing, no one I've asked has any idea what caused that splat. I'm going to try rubbing a just a corner of it with steel wool. I know it's not a good thing to do, but it's right in my line of vision.
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  #27  
Old 06-07-2011, 05:01 PM
Dewey Finn Dewey Finn is offline
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How about going to a local, independent carwash or detailing firm? Presumably they have experience with all sorts of stuff.
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  #28  
Old 06-07-2011, 05:02 PM
Grateful-UnDead Grateful-UnDead is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arrendajo View Post
I think the OP is talking about cleaning the inside of the windshield.
I had a problem with this after I bought my new Honda Fit. The problem was exacerbated by the sharp slope of the windshield and the large shelf-like dash area. I simply couldn't reach the inside of the windshield very well to clean it. I got it clean OK with Windex and paper towels, but it was really awkward. The problem lessened over the next year or so and now I don't need to clean it so often. The slope of the windshield also makes the film more obvious and annoying; if it were more vertical it wouldn't be as big a problem. I found the ArmorAll glass cleaner wipes didn't work any better than Windex and paper towel. I finally bought one of those microfiber pads on a stick (as advertised on TV!) so I could reach the inside windshield without contortions.
Yes, correct.

In my car (Ford) the angle of the windshield doesn't seem to be the issue; the film is more or less evenly distributed over the entire inside surface, and while awkward is generally accessible. Of course, my attempts at cleaning it have spread it around a lot as well.

I went out earlier after reading some of the posts above, and bought a collection of commercial cleaners and a microfiber cloth.

Nada......!

Are you guys serious: use steel wool on glass??? That would scratch the glass so much that I wouldn't be able to see through it anyway. Or are you just joshin' me?
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  #29  
Old 06-07-2011, 05:07 PM
ZenBeam ZenBeam is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chefguy View Post
They did all that, but didn't offer to clean it off? I'd go back and tell them you want it removed or you want a new windshield. Take it to the ownership, if necessary. This is clearly some mutant funk. The products you've tried should have cleaned it up.
Yeah, WTF? They didn't at least clean it once?

I'd be wary of using steel wool. I'd try a plastic scrungy* pad used for cleaning teflon pans first. Those should be safe for glass (maybe fine enough steel wool is too, but I'd use the plastic one first anyway).

* pardon the technical language.
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  #30  
Old 06-07-2011, 05:17 PM
Grateful-UnDead Grateful-UnDead is offline
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Originally Posted by ZenBeam View Post
Yeah, WTF? They didn't at least clean it once?

I'd be wary of using steel wool. I'd try a plastic scrungy* pad used for cleaning teflon pans first. Those should be safe for glass (maybe fine enough steel wool is too, but I'd use the plastic one first anyway).

* pardon the technical language.
Yes, they did try; and failed. Ditto with a commercial cleaner.

But the hassle factor is too great to keep at either the dealer or a commercial cleaner.

It is less aggravating to try to fix it myself when I have odd moments.

I prefer that the little molecules do their thing on the glass before I start using any kind of abrasive.

Besides which, the problem is not one that requires an abrasive; Ie: the white film smears around pretty easily, it just won't lift off. So an abrasive wouldn't make any difference, other than scratching the glass.
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  #31  
Old 06-07-2011, 06:05 PM
Dr. Strangelove Dr. Strangelove is offline
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Originally Posted by Grateful-UnDead View Post
Are you guys serious: use steel wool on glass??? That would scratch the glass so much that I wouldn't be able to see through it anyway. Or are you just joshin' me?
I can't give you any first-hand information, but there's nothing inherently wrong about it.

To a first approximation, you can't scratch a hard substance with a softer one. Steel is softer than glass, so it should abrade away contaminants without actually scratching the glass.

Of course the real world is more complex, and I couldn't guarantee that all the oxides of iron or the common contaminants of steel wool aren't harder than glass. I couldn't recommend aluminum for the same purpose, for instance, since even though aluminum is much softer than glass, it quickly oxidizes to corundum, which is much harder than glass.
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  #32  
Old 06-07-2011, 07:06 PM
ZenBeam ZenBeam is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grateful-UnDead View Post
Besides which, the problem is not one that requires an abrasive; Ie: the white film smears around pretty easily, it just won't lift off. So an abrasive wouldn't make any difference, other than scratching the glass.
This description makes me think it isn't really white film that smears around. How can it smear around, but not be able to be removed?

If it were an etching of the glass, the "film smearing around" could be water or oil filling the small roughness, making it transparent at least temporarily.

The normal build up on the inside of the windshield that I'm familiar with is fairly easily removed, but it's caused by outgassing (IIRC), and comes back repeatedly, especially when the car is new. This sounds like something different. Good luck.
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  #33  
Old 06-07-2011, 10:43 PM
Fubaya Fubaya is offline
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Originally Posted by Grateful-UnDead View Post
Are you guys serious: use steel wool on glass??? That would scratch the glass so much that I wouldn't be able to see through it anyway. Or are you just joshin' me?
It doesn't scratch the glass. Detail shops, body shops, dealerships etc all use the stuff. Just use fine steel wool, not the stuff they sell for scrubbing pots and pans.
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  #34  
Old 06-07-2011, 10:58 PM
JFLuvly JFLuvly is offline
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Quote:
Did you try the windshield washer fluid?
Seriously, especially the summer stuff with the bug remover.

Also we used cigarette ashes on the outside of the windshield to remove road grime, the stuff that is really noticible when you use the windshield wipers and it leaves a film. Just wet the windshield and rub a handful of ashes on it and it was like new. Not sure how well it would work in your case but it might help.
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  #35  
Old 06-07-2011, 11:36 PM
TehBearJew TehBearJew is offline
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I use windex or similar and wipe off with crumpled up newspaper. No joke. My mechanic said that's how he does it. Hard to believe at first but the newspaper doesn't smear or streak like paper towels.

Steel wool..wowow
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  #36  
Old 06-07-2011, 11:57 PM
Grateful-UnDead Grateful-UnDead is offline
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Ahaaa success!

I tried ethyl acetate nail polish remover (LOTS of it) plus paper towels; then followed up with Armourall Window Cleaner and paper towels.

Apparently only terrorists are allowed to buy acetone any more.

From what I can see under the lights in my garage, the white streaking is gone and the windshield looks sparkling clean; just like it was when I first took delivery.

Thanks for the info on the steel wool; that has been a revelation to me. I would not have dared to use any kind of abrasive on glass, but I will keep that knowledge in reserve.

Thanks to all for your suggestions
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  #37  
Old 06-08-2011, 12:53 AM
Askance Askance is offline
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Make sure you air the car out thoroughly, that nail polish is nasty stuff to breathe in. You don't want to drive while you can still smell it in there.
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  #38  
Old 06-08-2011, 07:46 AM
Gary T Gary T is offline
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Glad your problem is solved.

Years ago, I bought a rear window defroster kit. It had the heater grid (VERY thin copper strips) with bonded-on adhesive on one side to stick to the glass. The instructions made a HUGE deal of getting the glass ABSOLUTELY CLEAN. The main step in this was to clean the glass with acetone and fine steel wool. I don't recall clearly, but I'm thinking there may have been a follow-up step using alcohol and a cloth. I can only speculate, but perhaps some contaminants lightly bond to the glass surface and require the steel wool in combination with the solvent to completely detach them from said surface. Anyway, it worked fine and there was no scratching whatsoever.
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  #39  
Old 06-08-2011, 09:30 AM
Northern Piper Northern Piper is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bucketybuck View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by Grateful-UnDead
I took it back to the dealer, but they said: "New cars do that; it will go away."
Wut?

My career to this point has been spent in dealership service departments and I have never heard of this.
I've had the same problem with two new cars I've bought over the years, and got the same answer. And, it does go away over time.
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