How to Cover a Broken Car Window (Quick, Temporary Fix)

Finding your car with a broken car window in the morning is both frustrating and a huge disruption to your daily routine. It’s important to quickly cover up the damage until it can be properly fixed.

This article guides you through simple steps to secure your vehicle quickly. Let’s dive in and get your car protected.

IMPORTANT: Never drive with a broken front windshield whether it’s covered or not. In fact, federal law states that you may not even drive with a crack larger than 3/4″ in diameter, two cracks within three inches of each other, intersecting cracks, or cracks directly in the driver’s view.

Reasons to Cover That Broken Car Window ASAP


Having a busted car window can make your car look junky and may not exactly create the best impression of you on others. You don’t want people seeing you roll up looking like that, right?

Covering it up keeps your car looking decent until you can swap the window out.

Protect the Occupants

Your safety and that of your passengers should be a top priority. A broken car window can leave sharp glass fragments that may cut you or your passengers. Covering the window helps to contain the glass shards and protect everyone inside.

Protect the Interior

Once the glass is gone, rain, dust and whatever else can get into your car. That leads to stains, weird smells and damage over time. Keep the interior protected by covering the broken window.

Prevent Theft

Sadly, a broken car window can make your vehicle a target for thieves. They might see it as an easy opportunity to access your car and steal any valuable belongings you might have inside. Covering the window can deter potential criminals by reducing their visibility and making it (slightly) more difficult for them to break in.

But remember, that cover is just temporary. Get that window replaced ASAP for you and your car’s sake.

Safety Precautions

Safety Gear

Dealing with a smashed car window can be a perilous endeavor. Before getting started, arm yourself with work gloves and safety goggles as shattered glass can easily cut fingers or get in your eyes if you’re not careful.

Broken Glass Removal

Once geared up, it’s time to start plucking out the larger chunks. Carefully grab any big pieces by hand and drop them in a sturdy bag or bin, so they don’t end up causing damage somewhere else. With the big stuff out of the way, bring in the cavalry, a shop-vac.

Use attachments to get into all the nooks where glass shards may be hiding, like the window seal and between seat cushions. Don’t forget under mats and behind headrests too. Be aware that some types of window tint may make the job harder or easier than those without.

When tackling the aftermath of a broken window, caution is key. Protect yourself and thoroughly scour the interior to ensure no glass splinters are left behind. Be safe and watch your step, because dealing with broken auto glass can quickly go from annoying to dangerous without the right precautions.

Gathering the Materials

crash wrap

In this section, we will discuss the necessary materials for covering a broken car window. Whether it’s a temporary fix or a makeshift solution until you can get a proper repair, having these materials on hand will make the process smoother.

Choosing the Right Cover

When it comes to covering your broken car window, you have a few options. The most commonly used materials are:

  • Crash wrap – This is a type of plastic film that auto body shops use to temporarily cover broken windows on a car. It’s designed to be strong and flexible, and it adheres to the window frame without leaving a residue. This is probably the best temporary window covering because it’s easy to apply, provides a clear view, and it’s easily removed. But it can be hard to find unless you purchase it online.
  • Clear plastic sheeting – Clear plastic sheeting will keep the elements out while still allowing light in. Cut it to overlay the window and tape it securely to the frames.
  • Heavy duty garbage bags – Using clear yard debris garbage bags is an effective temporary cover as it is thicker than normal garbage bags and you’ll be able to still see through.
  • Plywood – For a sturdy barrier, cut a piece of plywood to fit over the window space. Drill holes and use zip ties or cords to strap the wood securely over the opening.
  • Plexiglass – Plexiglass sheets can be cut to size (your local Home Depot or Lowe’s may do it for you) and holes can be drilled to attach it with zip ties or small screws. It provides a hard, clear cover that keeps the elements out while allowing light in.

Securing With Tape

To hold your chosen cover material in place, you’ll need a reliable adhesive. We recommend using a combination of the following tapes:

  • Masking tape: Preferably a wide variant (around two inches), masking tape serves as a protective barrier between your car’s paint job and the duct tape. Place this around the entire window frame, and then apply the duct tape over the masking tape to avoid damage to your paint. Not very durable but it’ll be easy to remove when it’s time.
  • Duct tape: With its strong adhesive and durability, duct tape can secure the edges of the cover material to the window frame. It is also water-resistant and will hold up well even after exposure to different weather conditions. It’s biggest drawback is that it’s hard to remove and will leave residue.

Covering the Window

shattered window glass

Glass Removal and Cleaning

First things first, you need to wear safety gloves and remove any large pieces of broken glass from your car’s window. It’s impossible to collect all the small glass shards in the first step, so use a vacuum cleaner to clear the seats, carpets, headrests, and window seal.

Be sure to tap firmly, but not excessively hard with a rubber mallet or hammer if any stubborn shards remain lodged in the frame. Dispose of the glass in a paper bag, and seal it with tape before tossing it in the trash.

Applying the Cover

Now that your car window is free of broken glass, it’s time to cover it. Use one of the materials in the “Choosing the Right Cover” section above. For instance, if using a garbage bag, cut the bag to fit the size of your window and then tape it to the window frame with masking tape.

Make sure the edges are properly sealed, leaving no room for wind or rain to get in.

Final Touches

After applying the cover, double-check the seals to ensure it holds up well against the weather. If needed, add extra tape reinforcement on the edges. Remember that this is only a temporary solution and you should plan on replacing the broken window with a new one as soon as possible.

Overall, following these steps should help you cover your broken car window effectively and give you more time before getting a professional replacement.

Why Cardboard Shouldn’t Be Used

You may think that using cardboard to cover a broken car window is a quick and easy fix, but it’s actually not the best option for several reasons.

First, cardboard is not a durable material. It can easily be damaged by rain, wind, and other weather conditions, which means you’ll be constantly replacing it. This isn’t ideal, especially if it takes a while for you to get your window properly fixed.

Secondly, cardboard doesn’t provide much security for your vehicle. It’s certainly better than leaving your broken window exposed, but it won’t take much effort for a potential thief to rip it off and gain access to your car. This puts your belongings and potentially your safety at risk.

In addition, using cardboard as a temporary window cover can obstruct your view and reduce visibility while driving, increasing the chances of an accident. A clear and unobstructed view is more important than you may think for safe driving, and cardboard just doesn’t provide that.

Finally, while covering your broken window with cardboard may seem like a budget-friendly solution, it could actually end up costing more in the long run. Frequent replacement of the cardboard due to damage or theft can easily add up, and you may be better off investing in a more secure and durable temporary window covering from the get-go.

Legal Considerations

Before covering your broken car window, it is important to be aware of any legal implications that could arise from your temporary solution. In some cities or states, certain types of temporary window coverings may be deemed illegal and could result in a fine or citation.

First and foremost, check with your local authorities on the legality of your chosen method for covering your broken car window. Make sure the material used is transparent enough to maintain visibility for both you and other drivers on the road. If you’re unsure of what materials may be considered legal, consult your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) for guidance.

To avoid any legal issues, aim to find a temporary solution that provides enough visibility and adheres to local laws. Keep in mind that a temporary fix should not be a long-term solution; it’s always best to repair or replace your broken window as soon as possible.

Preparing for a Permanent Solution

Now that you’ve managed to cover your broken car window temporarily, you need to start thinking about a permanent fix. A few tips:

Avoid Procrastination

As soon as possible, schedule an appointment with an auto glass specialist to assess the damage to your car window. By acting promptly, you minimize the risk of further damage or accidents caused by a lack of visibility.

Get Multiple Quotes

You’ll want to gather quotes from professionals to find a fair and affordable price for the repair. These days, it’s easy to discover good local businesses through online reviews and recommendations. Remember to weigh the benefits of an OEM vs aftermarket windshield while deciding.

Ask Questions

Doing your due diligence is key to finding the right person to fix your window. Don’t hesitate to ask questions or request references to verify the expertise and reputation of the auto glass professional.

Adrian Bell

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