“Under the weather” is an odd expression. It usually refers to being sick, but if you think about it, nobody is immune from weather, and that goes for cars and their windshields, too. Whether the climate you’re dealing with is icy, hot, snowy, wet or gritty, there are several ways you can weatherproof your windshield in order to preserve optimum visibility—and keep your car in good health!

Prepping Your Windshield for Cold Weather

Glass repair companies are really busy in the winter because cold, icy weather can be hard on windshields. So before the first Arctic blast of the year hits, it’s a good idea to inspect your windshield for tiny nicks or cracks and have them repaired as soon as possible by a reputable windshield repair and replacement company. The reason this is so important is that dirt, debris, and water can settle into those small cracks and nicks. When temperatures drop below freezing, the wet debris can expand and turn a small nick in the glass into a bigger crack, which is more expensive to fix.

Before the next cold front hits, here are some things you can do to protect your windshield:

  • Affix some kind of covering to your windshield to prevent the ice, frost, and snow from settling on it in the first place. Huffington Post suggests using a couple of old bath towels to do the trick, but you can also use sheets of cardboard or an old blanket, too. If you live in an area with a climate that has consistent, long stretches of icy, cold weather, you may want to invest in an official windshield cover for the job.
  • Thanks to the folks at NASA, there’s now a spray solution called IceFree that you can apply to your windshield to prevent ice from forming on it down to 20 degrees Fahrenheit. They say that even if you forget or are caught off guard by inclement weather, you can still spray the mixture on top of the ice and it will safely accelerate the melting process.

In addition, there are several things you definitely want to avoid doing to your windshield during cold weather.

  • Never de-ice a windshield by pouring hot water on it. Any sudden temperature change (from hot to cold or vice versa) is a sure way to shock the glass and make it crack, particularly if it has already been weakened by nicks or dings.
  • It’s also important to use the defroster to warm up your windshield gradually—don’t blast it on high at sub-freezing temperatures or that will also shock the glass. Make sure to allow plenty of time between defrosting, scraping, and departure time.

Waterproofing Your Windshield

A torrential downpour can make visibility a huge problem when you’re on the road, which can lead to all kinds of safety hazards. So waterproofing your windshield is another way to keep you, and everybody else on the road, safe when driving in rainy conditions. This YouTube video shows the vast visibility difference you can expect between treated and untreated windshields. Invest in a quality windshield waterproofing product like Critical Auto Glass Protection Systemthat uses a “water beading” technology to repel water, sleet, and snow. It also reduces snow, ice, and frost (not to mention salt and bugs!) build-up and lasts up to a full year.

It’s also important to make sure that your windshield wipers are in good working order. Keep an eye out for signs that it’s time to replace your windshield wipers, like persistent streaks and smears on the glass. The guys at Car Talk also recommend that if you use special winter windshield wipers that are heavier and sturdier than regular ones, you should switch them out when the weather gets better so that they don’t wear out the windshield wiper motor.

Summer and Your Windshield

Unlike winter ice and spring thunderstorms, dry, sunny weather doesn’t usually make you worry about your windshield. Yet there are always windshield dangers lurking on the road. To protect your windshield and ensure safe driving, even in the summer, follow these tips from Cars.com:

  • Park in shady areas on hot days (if at all possible) to avoid high temperature stress on the windshield.
  • Don’t blast the air conditioner when it’s hot or the temperature extremes could shock the windshield. Let some of the hot air out by opening doors and rolling down windows first and then gradually build up to cooler temps with the air conditioner.

And no matter the weather, always follow the 3-second driving distance rule and don’t tailgate other cars. In fact, give a particularly wide berth to gravel trucks and other construction-type vehicles that could shoot pebbles at your windshield. Remember: protect your windshield and your windshield will protect you!