How to Cover a Broken Car Window: A List of Temporary Solutions

We always think that a broken car window is another person’s misfortune … until it happens to us! It’s happened to me before, and trust me, it’s not a fun process to deal with. But the fact remains that it can happen to anyone, anytime.

Whether it’s a broken side window, a broken rear window replacement you need, or if you need to get your windshield replaced, all of these are not fun situations to be in.

When it does, you’re left wondering what your next steps should be, and how you can cover it for the time-being.

Passenger side broken car window

Most car owners expect thieves and break-ins to be the cause of broken car windows, but crushed glass can also occur due to heavy hail, a collision, or even just a stray stone hitting the window in the wrong place.

Replacing the car glass isn’t as simple, nor is it as quick of a process and quick fix. It can also represent a significant cost, especially if several windows of your car need to be replaced. So, lack of time, budget, or other elements might leave you driving for a few days before you can get it permanently fixed.

Covering a broken window doesn’t only protect passengers, but it also acts as a shield against outside elements.

In this article, we’ll explain the reasons why it’s important to cover a broken window, and we’ll also walk you through (in detail) all the different steps you need to take to cover it properly.

Why Should You Cover Your Broken Car Window?

Ideally, a broken window should be replaced with hard glass immediately.

Realistically speaking though, this isn’t always possible, for one too many reasons. For the most part, you might need to use your vehicle for a few days before you can perform window fixes.

So, temporarily covering it until you can install a window replacement is important for several reasons:

Appearance

When faced with driving a car with broken glass, our priorities might shift and appearance might be the last of our worries.

For some of us, however, this isn’t the case. Keeping a clean, neat look is essential for many people, no matter what the circumstances may be.

Covering a car window doesn’t have to be a messy process, with orange duct tape strips fighting each other across the empty space. When done properly, a cover will give a much more polished look than just leaving broken glass there unattended.

Keeps Yourself and Your Passengers Safe

Whether the broken glass is on the passenger or the driver’s side, it still remains a hazard for everyone inside the car.

While driving, small glass pieces can easily detach and fly inside the vehicle. Possibilities of where they can land are unfortunately endless. They can get into your eyes, seats, a kid’s car seat, and so on.

They can also fly outside, potentially harming pedestrians walking by. If it falls on the road, a sharp broken glass can cut through the rubber tread of someone’s car or bicycle tire.

Protects Against Whether

Although a temporary cover won’t fully protect your vehicle from all weather elements, and you’ll still need to get your auto glass replaced for that kind of protection, it still provides a safety layer. A rainy day would be disastrous for any car with a non-covered broken window.

Without a proper cover, strong winds could bring debris, dust, and small objects inside your vehicle, potentially damaging the interior in the process.

If your car interior is covered with a delicate material, such as leather, sun exposure could also cause great damage.

Avoid Easy Access

Driving around or even simply parking your vehicle with a non-covered broken window brings attention — a whole lot of attention you don’t want!

Although a car with a temporary cover wouldn’t be all that difficult to break in, it still provides a psychological feeling of privacy and protection. This is especially true if you install the cover professionally so that it doesn’t look like a cover unless people come up close to it and inspect it carefully.

How to Cover Broken Car Windows?

Covering the opening before getting it fixed isn’t complicated, and is a task that most people can handle on their own.

Preparing the Surface to Cover

Before covering the opening, you’ll need to clean and secure the surface from glass debris.

Items Needed

To properly and safely prepare the area, you’ll need the following items handy.

  • Small hammer or another heavy tool.
  • Gloves: Should be made of strong and thick material to avoid cuts.
  • Microfiber cloth.
  • Vacuum cleaner.
  • Masking tape.

Removing Glass Debris

If glass pieces still stand strong, you’ll need to remove them first. Wear gloves to avoid cuts, and use a hammer to detach the most stubborn piece of glass.

Most likely, glass debris may have fallen inside your vehicle. Use a car vacuum cleaner to clear the seats, carpets, and headrests. Use a small attachment to remove debris from the window seal as well.

Vacuum a few times if needed, too. Taking your time to ensure you remove all the glass is one of the most important steps when it comes to safety!

Dusting Off

Before covering the broken car window, wipe down the window and remove any dust and dirt from the outside frame. To avoid scratches, it’s best to use a microfiber cloth.

This will ensure that the masking or duct tapes stick properly. It also prevents moisture and water from getting in.

You can also wash the outside window frame with water if you feel the need to. Just ensure that it’s fully dry before using any tape.

Masking Tape

Using masking tape is often overlooked, but can save the car paint around your window frame. Applying duct tape directly on your car will likely chip the paint and leave a residue, so you don’t want to do that.

Cover the window frame with a layer of masking tape, about two inches wide. You can then safely apply duct tape on top of it.

This step will be a prerequisite for every cover (except the crash wrap) described below.

Clear Duct Tape as a Window Cover

Covering the opening with duct tape requires only one item, which is often found in most homes. That will save you from having to run down to your hardware store.

Open the car’s door to start taping from the inside of your vehicle. Lay strips of your clear duct tape vertically, starting from one side of the window to the other. Make sure that the strips overlap until they cover the entire space.

Repeat this process, but by laying the strips horizontally this time. This will ensure that your cover is now stronger and more durable.

Once the opening is entirely covered horizontally and vertically from the inside, repeat the process on the outside.

Covers made of duct tape are popular, as they’re sturdy and help keep the moisture out.

Crash Wrap as a Window Cover

Crash wraps might be the fastest and easiest way to cover a broken car window opening.

Before installing the wrap, you’ll still need to clean the area from any remaining glass debris. You’ll also have to clean the frame from any dirt and dust. However, you won’t need to apply masking tape.

Crash wraps come as a wide plastic roll. Stick the length of the roll on one side of the window and roll it over the other side. Cut at the desired width and press the plastic against the window frame.

Once you do all of that, you’re done!

The best crash wraps protect your car interior from ultraviolet lights and are also water and weather resistant.

The plastic can be applied directly to your car without chipping the paint. As you remove the cash wrap to proceed with a permanent window repair, simply tear it away.

They can last from a few weeks to a few months without deteriorating. It doesn’t stick to itself and can even be applied to a frozen surface in winter. If you’re planning to drive, it should withstand a speed of 50 miles per hour.

Plastic Bag as a Window Cover

Using a plastic bag to cover the opening can be a convenient temporary window fix if you’re not planning to use your vehicle for the time being, until you can fix the broken car window, perform glass repairs and install proper glass replacements.

You’ll have to consider the type of plastic bag you’ll be using, though. If you manage to get your hands on some, high density bags are preferable. They’re thicker and offer better protection. You can use high density trash bags if you have ones at home.

On the other hand, low density bags (such as low density garbage bags) tend to puncture easily, and you’ll end up with a hole fairly quickly.

Start off by fixing the plastic bag from the inside. The bag should be tightly sealed over the window frame, or else it will flap and potentially break and fly away.

This may become a safety hazard when driving, especially at high speeds. This is why it’s best to keep plastic bags as a cover option only if you’re not intending to drive while you have this system set up.

Note that it can be difficult to stretch the bag on your own while placing the duct tape around. So, you’ll probably need a second pair of hands to apply the plastic bag properly.

Place duct tape all around the frame and ensure that it’s fully sealed. Add an extra layer of duct tape if needed. For extra protection, you can repeat this process from the outside with a new bag.

You can also tape over the bag itself, applying layers of duct tape all over the opening in horizontal and vertical layers.

What About Cardboard?

If you have other cover options handy, cardboard is best to avoid. It’s usually the last option you should resort to, if nothing else can be applied instead.

Even if you won’t be driving, it has a few disadvantages you have to know about.

First things first, cardboard isn’t see-through and will block your visibility, creating a safety hazard on the road. If not secured properly with duct tape, flying cardboard could cause serious accidents.

Also, when it rains, cardboard retains moisture and is hard to dry. After a few days of rain, water could leak inside the car.

Other Things to Consider

When applying a cover, always use a transparent, see-through material. Although colorful covers might seem trendy, they reduce your visibility, which can pose a great safety risk to you and everyone around you at the time you’re driving.

Duct tape, plastic bags, and crash wraps are all available in a transparent color.

Also, be sure to check the regulations of your city before you ever install a cover on a broken car window of yours. It’s sometimes illegal to drive with a plastic cover, even if you’re only doing this temporarily.

Last but not least, remember that such covers should always be a temporary fix until you can fix the broken car window (which you should strive to do as soon as possible). These covers are not a permanent solution!

Wrapping it Up

Dealing with a vehicle that has a broken window is a stressful experience on its own. Luckily, covering it until a permanent fix can be set up should be an easy process.

If you have the time to run to your auto body shop, the crash wrap solution might be the safest and most convenient option you could go with.

If you need an immediate solution and have clear duct tape at home, you shouldn’t need anything else.

Covering the opening with a plastic bag is the least desirable solution, and should only be used if you’re not planning to drive your car before you can get a permanent fix up.

Ensure that this temporary fix doesn’t become permanent or last longer than it should. New hard glass might be an investment, but it’s fully waterproof and more durable (and safe) than any temporary solution!

Kyle Palmer

From childhood go karting and motocross, to collecting and obsessing over scalextric, matchbox and radio controlled cars, I've always had an obsession with cars. Learning through manuals, books, trial and error, and more knowledgeable family members, I've also enjoyed tinkering with the mechanics and electronics of any vehicles I've owned. Now, over 3 decades later, I've started this site as a place for me to share my knowledge, to teach others how to care for and maintain their vehicles themselves, at home, so they can get the most of their vehicles and save a pretty penny compared to always seeking out professional help.

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