Over the last 20 or so years the popularity of using chemical products to treat car windows and windshields has surged dramatically. Products like RainX or Aquapel form a hydrophobic layer on auto glass that wicks water off. The effectiveness and safety of these products, however, has been called into question.
Here we will explore some of the pros and cons of using these types of window treatments.
1. They do work as advertised
There is no doubt that these products do what they are intended to do, which is form a hydrophobic surface on your auto glass. This is similar to treatments or waxes which are used on tents and hiking gear like jackets and boots. When water touches these surfaces, it beads up and rolls away to a surface that is friendlier.
These products are remarkably effective at creating this hydrophobic layer.
2. That’s not always a good thing
So while these products do what their marketing says they do, that may not always be what you want.
When rain is anything more than “moderate,” it will pool up and roll off of your windshield, making the job of your wipers much easier. However, when rain is less than “moderate,” the small droplets have a tendency to bead up and sit in one place. Depending on the quality of your wipers, they may actually just spread these beads around and impair visibility, rather than help it.
3. They can sometimes leave a residue
Much like a poorly-applied wax, these products can leave a misty residue on windshields that can be hard to get off. In more humid parts of the country such as the Southeast, this can create a dangerously foggy situation for the driver.
4. They’re inexpensive
The relatively low cost of these window treatments (most can be purchased for around $5 at your local hardware or auto parts store) means that you can give them a try without much of a risk.
Many people use these products once and never look back. Others find that they don’t do what they want them to do. They may work differently depending on the shape of the windshield or the composition of the glass.
As inexpensive as they are, it’s worth giving these products a shot so you can see for yourself.