Last Updated on July 1, 2022
How did your car get broken into? You left it in covered parking at your apartment complex, you wake up (coffee in hand) and reach for the handle only to realize your entire passenger seat is covered in broken glass.
Someone has just tried to steal from you, so hopefully, you don’t keep anything of value in your vehicle overnight.
Obviously you don’t want to just leave it as-is. Keep reading to learn how to cover a broken window properly, from a quick and easy method to a longer term temporary solution.
What Caused It?
Break-ins happen to everyone at some point in their life—it’s just a part of living in a society where we all live so close together. Maybe if you live out in the country, you’ll have fewer people “checking doors” up and down the street, but by and large, break-ins are pretty standard.
So, what caused this to happen? The most common situation is someone noticing something of value in your vehicle they want and smashing the window with any blunt instrument. Sure, they may have helped you remove water spots or old window tint on that window, but there are better ways to do so.
If you have your window slightly open to let the interior breathe because of hot weather or a moldy smell in your car, a thief could just grab the window, pull, and it will explode.
Now, you could also break your window by throwing a long piece of lumber in there, not checking to see if it would clear the window, then slamming the rear hatch on that lumber. This would definitely break your window.
Or, you could be driving behind a truck with an unsecured hammer in the back, they go over a bump, and you drive right into the hammer, windshield-first. Many ways to skin this cat, but the moral is—your window is broken, and you need to fix it.
Reasons to Cover That Window ASAP
#1 – Precipitation
There’s a reason windows were invented. So you can get light in and see through a surface while also keeping the elements at bay. Pretty amazing, really, if you think about it.
So, now that you no longer have a window, you’ll still be able to see through it—because there’s nothing there ;). But if anything other than a perfect day happens outside, you’re in trouble.
If it rains and you leave the windows down, for example, water will get into your car which can ultimately result in mold forming. This is very hard to get rid of and could cause quite a stench. Plus, if you need to drive somewhere and it’s raining, you’ll get wet. (people care about this for some reason, and I’m like “why don’t you drive with your race helmet on?”)
Additionally, and while this may be an extreme case, if you have a broken window you won’t be able to keep heat inside of your vehicle for very long. So, you’ll get cold on those -20F days and if you do it for too long, you could get a chill or hypothermia.
Again, not likely, but it could happen. Plus, if anyone’s driving with you and they get chilled to the bone, they won’t want to drive with you again (ask me how I know).
Now, if your windshield is broken just don’t drive. If it starts to snow, hail, or rain, you won’t be able to see and you’re causing a problem for anyone else on the road. Not to mention it’s a huge safety hazard.
Related: Best Car Covers for Hail Protection
#2 – Sun
It may not seem like a big deal to fill your car with sunlight and warmth and happiness, but let me tell you—IT IS.
Modern windows have a UV coating in them to prevent some of the more harmful wavelengths from traveling through the pane of glass and into your vehicle. These UV (UltraViolet) rays can harm your skin if there is prolonged exposure say, if you’re on a long road trip, your arms will get sunburned.
Also, if you live in a particularly sunny climate, and you haven’t covered up that broken window, you’ll find that your interior will start to fade, crack, and break quicker.
#3 – Safety
Why did someone break your window? To get inside. So now, anybody can get inside your car until you replace it.
While covering it up won’t exactly prevent the most tenacious of criminals from doing what they do, it will make it harder to tell what’s inside—and what is or isn’t worth stealing. Out of sight, out of mind.
#4 – Comfort
While this goes along with precipitation, it’s more comfortable to drive in a car where there isn’t one window perpetually gone from the equation.
There will be less wind noise, and fewer climate control dramatics, and you’ll arrive at your destination less stressed and more refreshed. (That sounds like a cosmetics line… man I need a vacation.)
See Also: 4 Reasons Your Car Window Doesn’t Go Up
Prepping the Area
So, let’s take this back to the beginning. You wake up, make your coffee, go out to the car and you have a busted window. What do you do?
#1 – Remove Remaining Glass
If your car has been made in the last 50 years, it should have safety glass that breaks into small pieces, not long jagged shards. Typically, the windshield is made of laminated glass while the remaining windows use tempered glass.
But, since our readers are varied, I have to say *please wear gloves and long sleeves before you work around any glass*. Now, remove any remaining glass by going around the perimeter of the window and scooping/brushing this into a garbage can.
#2 – Vacuum
Next, go through the interior of the car and the ground under where the window was to vacuum up any leftover glass pieces.
Use a Shop Vac or something industrial for this because I don’t know how powerful/sturdy your vacuum cleaner is and don’t want to hear “you broke my vacuum cleaner, Al” in the comment section.
The compact Armor All AA255 is perfect for cars but really, any shop vacuum will do.
#3 – Clean
Next, clean the outer edge of the paint around where the window used to be with a paper towel with some isopropyl alcohol in it. This will prep the surface for whatever adhesive you’re going to use in the next section.
Best Ways to Cover a Broken Car Window
Now we need to cover it. So, here are some cheap ways to create your own window covering.
Method #1: Heavy Duty Garbage Bag
Example: Frost King Contractor Clean Up Bags
Grab a hefty. Use some duct tape to affix this garbage bag to the outside of your vehicle to cover the opening. This will flap in the wind because the bag has dimension to it, so it will go in and out as the wind moves across the surface.
Method #2: Crash Wrap
Example: ArmorDillo Crash Wrap
This is a pretty cost-effective way of covering up that broken window. This is basically like a heavy duty version of the saran wrap that you’d use in your kitchen to save food for later.
You’re going to stretch the roll over whatever windows you are trying to cover and then cut it off at the end and press it down tight. This is a waterproof, puncture-resistant solution to this issue you’re trying to solve.
Method #3: Plastic Sheeting
Example: Frost King Polyethylene Sheeting
You’ve probably seen this product on job sites before, so you know it can take a beating. This is thick plastic sheeting that is a bit harder to see through than glass.
You’ll need an adhesive like duct tape to affix the sheeting over the opening, but it should hold for as long as the duct tape does. It could keep you high and dry for months!
Method #4: Plexiglass (Acrylic Sheet)
Example: Acrylic Sheeting at Home Depot
If things just suck right now, and getting a new window won’t be in the picture for at least a few months, plexiglass might be the move.
You can use some cardboard to get the shape of the opening you are trying to cover, then lay that out on top of a square yard of Plexiglass.
Then, you can use a sharpie to trace the outline of the cardboard and cut it out using a hack saw. Finally, finish the edges with sandpaper and then wipe down those edges using some isopropyl alcohol and a paper towel.
This way, the shavings won’t impede your adhesive’s stick to the outside of your car. Now Finally finally, use some more duct tape to stick this to your window, and you should be good indefinitely.
Can You Drive With a Broken Car Window?
Yes, you can drive with a broken car window (please don’t drive without a windshield though). It may not always be the most comfortable situation, and you could get rain, snow, hail, or UV radiation through that window—but you can do it.
It’s just like rolling the window down, except when you roll the window up nothing happens. Could make a good prank for when you’re rolling around with your buddies. Who knows, they may actually help you cover it up!